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Texas baseball finds life, takes TCU series 2-1

Entering the opening series in Big 12 play, a 9-12 record gave every indication that the Longhorns would struggle against the 17-3 Horned Frogs. But Texas fought back.

Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Thursday: Texas 4, TCU 3

In recent weeks, Augie Garrido's Texas Longhorns squad has shuffled the deck on offense to respond to injury and the pitching staff to respond to performance in an effort to kick start a hapless Horns ball club that has failed to win a weekend series since the start of the year. Against the TCU Horned Frogs, that shuffle paid off.

Early on, the Texas offense got to TCU starter Luken Baker, who drew midweek comparisons to Longhorn great Brooks Kieschnick for his size and versatility, for two runs in the second off three infield singles and questionable defense (TCU finished the game one with four errors). Texas right-hander Morgan Cooper, settling in as a weekend starter, got off to a strong start with three scoreless innings until a three-run home run in the fourth inning put TCU ahead 3-2.

Cooper finished with 4.2 innings of work before giving way to the Texas bullpen, which held TCU scoreless through the rest of the contest. Travis Duke, Blake Wellman, Chase Shugart (now coming out of the pen as a reliever, rather than the closer), Josh Sawyer, and Conner Mayes (who picked up his first save of the year in his new role) combined to shut the Horned Frogs out the rest of the way.

Patrick Mathis, back from a hamstring injury, smashed the go-ahead two-run homer in the 5th.

Freshman pitcher Chase Shugart summed up the Longhorns' position nicely.

"There's no doubt in my mind that we can be the team that we want to be. It's either fight or flight now and we don't have wings. Might as well fight."

Friday: Texas 2, TCU 0

Strong pitching from both the starter and the bullpen carried Texas through in the Friday match. Continuing his impressive senior campaign, Ty Culbreth limited TCU to four hits and three walks in his 6.1 innings while striking out three, moving to 4-2 for the year. Impressive scoreless showings from Chase Shugart, Josh Sawyer (struck out all three batters faced), and Conner Mayes (second save of the year) contributed to the shutout.

With the pitching effort put together by the Texas staff, the offense didn't need to do too much. And in the 6th, they finally broke through. Tyler Rand, starting his first series since returning from a broken hand, singled and stole his third base of the year. Travis Jones followed with a single to put runners on the corners, and Kody Clemens (now batting near the top of the order) grounded into a double play to score Rand from third. With nobody aboard, Tres Barrera lifted his second home run of the season over the fence to give Texas the deciding 2-0 advantage.

Following his first home run of the year in the Horns' midweek contest, and with a third to come on Sunday, Barrera took home some conference honors:

Saturday: Texas 5, TCU 9

With the series locked up and a sweep on the line, the Saturday contest was a little more wild than the previous two ballgames. Both starters, TCU's Rex Hill and Kyle Johnston of Texas, were run off quickly after giving up some early runs. But it was the TCU offense that consistently put pressure on the Texas staff, notching 14 hits and scoring in six of nine innings.

Early on the offense made a move to give the squad a shot at the sweep. Facing a 1-0 deficit in the home half of the second, Patrick Mathis singled and was moved over with a bunt and scored on a Kaleb Denny single. Denny scored after Michael Cantu and Zane Gurwitz singles, and a Kody Clemens bases-loaded walk gave Texas a 3-1 advantage.

And in the 5th, with TCU holding a 5-3 lead, Tres Barrera homered again, this time a two-run shot and his third of the week.

But the 5-5 tie was shortlived, as TCU scored three in the sixth and again in the ninth, walking away with the final game on a 9-5 victory.


Texas record: 11-13, 2-1

This week: Tuesday against Lamar (6 p.m. CT, Longhorn Network), weekend at OU