Mid-week game are typically one-off match-ups on a Tuesday or Wednesday night against in-state, usually inferior opponents. Last seasons mid-weeks included heavy weight Texas A&M, but largely featured low Division 1 team such as UT Rio Grande Valley and Prairie View A&M.
The Longhorns went an unacceptable 6-5 in mid-weeks in 2016, including losses to Texas A&M Corpus Christi, Lamar, and Texas State. If Texas wants to make the NCAA tourney this season, the team will need to treat these weekday games seriously and come out on top of most of them.
That’s why Wednesday night’s seemingly insignificant match-up against Sam Houston State is crucial.
The ‘Horns will travel to Huntsville to face the Bearkats, with the first pitch set for 6:30 PM CST. The Longhorns won last season’s lone meeting with Sam Houston State 12-3.
Despite last year’s blow-out Texas victory, Sam Houston State should not be taken lightly. The team has made the NCAA tournament seven out of the past 10 years. In 2016, Matt Deggs’ club overcame a 0-5 start to make the post-season again with a 42-22 record.
The Bearkats have started solidly in 2017, taking their first series against Nevada 2-1. Sam Houston State thrived on excellent pitching, and its only loss was in extra innings.
Sam Houston State is a school near and dear to first-year Texas coach David Pierce, as the school was his first Division 1 head coaching job. As skipper for the Bearkats from 2012-2014, he led the team to an NCAA regional all three years and won Southland Coach of the Year in 2012.
Expect Nolan Kingham to take the mound for Texas. The sophomore had two productive innings against Rice as a reliever on Opening Day, but earned a loss to his name after giving up a run in a flukey 9th inning.
Kingham’s progress will likely be what to watch for on Wednesday night, but perhaps just as important will be the effectiveness of Texas’ relievers. David Pierce has said that he doesn’t want nor expect his starters to go the distance, but the Longhorns’ bullpen had troubling moments in the Rice series.
Falling to 2-3 would kill any momentum Texas acquired over the weekend, so it’s vital for the ‘Horns to not take Wednesday’s game as an exhibition. Weekday games are often an opportunity to try out new players and get young guys experience, but Texas should be hungry for a win. And I think they should get it.
Prediction: Texas victory, 6-2.