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Texas Takes on UTPA; Preview and Open Thread

Texas baseball returns to action tonight at 6 PM versus hated UTPA.

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Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

Texas attempts to up its winning streak to seven games tonight versus the UTPA Broncs at 6 PM at UFCUDFF. I was preparing to talk about all of the great things the Texas pitching and hitting has done through 9 games (insert small sample size disclaimer here), but instead I'm just going to link to the notes from the preview of the game.

• The Texas baseball team ranks in the Top 11 of each major college baseball poll (USA Today Coaches Poll - 6; Perfect Game - 8; NCBWA - 9; Baseball America - 9; - 9; Collegiate Baseball - 11).
• The Longhorn offense is currently second in the NCAA in extra base hits (Texas Tech - 37) with 35 in just nine games. UT blasted 20 of these extra base hits (15 doubles, four triples, one home run) in the series vs. Minnesota. Collin Shaw had six (five doubles, one triple), and has a team-high nine extra base hits this season (eight doubles, one triple), after having six (five doubles, one triple) in all of 2014.
• The pitching staff tossed its third consecutive shutout on Sunday, which was the first time Texas has done that since March 22-24, 2002, against UTPA. Prior to that, Texas hadn't recorded three straight since 1983 vs. Dallas Baptist.
• Texas' starting pitchers went 4-0 on the weekend, and did not allow an earned run. The pitching staff's ERA went from 4.30 entering the weekend to 2.36 at the end.
• The staff did not allow an earned run throughout the entire Minnesota series, and it held Minnesota to an .067 batting average (3 for 45) with runners on base. With runners in scoring position, it held the Gophers hitless (0 for 18), and with two outs Minnesota hit .118 (4-for-34) with zero RBIs.
• Comparatively, Texas hit .302 (26-for-86) with runners on base, .364 (20-for-55) with runners in scoring position and .362 (17-for-47) with two outs. Sixteen of UT's 28 RBIs on the weekend came with two down in the inning, including all seven on Sunday.
• The 7-2 start by Texas is its best since 2010. The Longhorns have won six games in a row after starting the season 1-2.
• The 31 runs scored by the Longhorns this series was the highest total in a four-game set since they had 34 against Dallas Baptist in 1989.
• Longhorn base runners swiped six bases in Sunday's game, the most since they had six steals against California on March 30, 2012.
• Texas is outscoring its opponents 31-2 from the seventh inning on this season.
• The offense has scored 44 of its 63 total runs in innings where the leadoff man reaches base safely.
• The Horns have not trailed in the last 48 innings. Their last deficit was in the sixth inning of last Sunday's (2/15) win over Rice.
• Six Texas hitters have an OPS (on base % + slugging %) over .800, and three over 1.000: Tres Barrera (1.162), Ben Johnson (1.143), Collin Shaw (1.061), Michael Cantu (.935), Bret Boswell (.896) and Brooks Marlow (.809). Last season, the Longhorns finished with one player over .800 (Mark Payton, .900).
• Five Longhorns are batting above .300 currently: Ben Johnson (.476), Tres Barrera (.371), Collin Shaw (.368), Michael Cantu (.348) and Bret Boswell (.343).
Ben Johnson has recorded a hit in each of the first nine games, giving him a 10-game hit streak dating back to last season. Johnson is hitting a team-high .476 on the year and leads the Big 12 with 20 hits.
Brooks Marlow recorded the first four-RBI game of his career in the series finale. It was the 14th multi-RBI game of his career.
• The defense is off to a strong start as well, fielding .986, with only five errors in 359 chances. The Horns have also turned 11 double plays in the first nine games, after turning 71 in 57 games in 2014. In the Minnesota series Texas committed just one error for a .994 fielding percentage.

That about sums up everything I wanted to say. Comparing this year's offense to last year's through 9 games you get this interesting nugget:

2014 - .251 BA, .331 SLG, 4.6 R/G

2015 - .309 BA, .457 SLG, 7 R/G

Hopefully this sample isn't an outlier and this is the offense we'll see in 2015. If so, look out!

Anyhow, Connor Mayes is on the mound for his second career start tonight. First pitch is at 6 PM and this'll be your open thread.

Hook 'em.