Daylight savings time may start tomorrow, but Texas’s baseball team may have already set their clocks back an hour before today’s game. After giving up five runs in the first two innings, No. 23 Texas ultimately fell to No. 5 Stanford 9-3 at UFCU Disch-Falk Field. Stanford lead the game from start to finish thanks to two big innings highlighted by two out production.
The game started with a lot of energy, easily the most I’ve seen at a home game this season. A rowdy crowd and almost packed house at the Disch welcomed starting pitcher Blair Henley to the mound. The weather today was the only thing hotter than Henley, who came into the game with just a 0.53 ERA and a 12 IP scoreless innings streak.
It didn’t last long for either of those numbers to change.
Stanford got on the board in the first inning after what should have been a routine pop up to shallow center field became a Kameron Fields error after he lost the ball in the sun. A runner who was holding on third was able to cross home for the Cardinal. Texas couldn’t respond with anything in their half of the inning, as the 1-2-3 batters of Hamilton-Hibbeler-Clemens were retired.
Stanford followed up their first inning performance with a bigger second inning. After a lead-off walk and stolen base were surrendered to Stanford’s Kyle Stowers, a ground out and a Henley strikeout got Stanford to 2 outs in the inning with one man on base. Texas couldn’t jump on their chance to escape the inning unscathed, though, as Henley subsequently hit the next batter, then gave up a shallow line drive to center field that scored one for the Cardinal. Stanford increased its lead to 3-0 with another single to center, and jumped up to a 5-0 lead after a full count 2 RBI line drive double to center off the bat of Andrew Daschbach. Henley got the next batter out on a grounder back to the pitcher, but left the second inning having given up five runs in the game- five times the amount he had given up on the season before that point.
Texas would answer back in the fourth inning, scoring three runs of their own. As always, the production came through the top of the order. Hibbeler laced a one out double to left-center field, and Clemens walked to bring Zach Zubia crushed a shot to left field to bring in three.
This ball was CRUSHED. @zachzubia got the Horns back in the ballgame. #HookEm pic.twitter.com/JauFWquPte— Texas Baseball (@TexasBaseball) March 10, 2018
Texas would continue to put runners in scoring position, and Kameron Fields came up to the plate with two outs, the bases loaded, and a shot to put the Longhorns ahead in this game for the first time. However, Fields popped up to shallow right to end the inning and ultimately the best chance the Horns had at taking the lead in the game.
Henley would continue pitching through the sixth inning, where he was pulled in favor of Andy McGuire. Henley settled down after two miserable first innings, but definitely wasn’t as sharp as we had seen him over the past month:
Blair Henley: 6.0 IP, 5 R (5 ER), 5 H, 4 K, 4 BB, 1 HBP, 107 Pitches
Texas and Stanford would trade goose eggs on the scoreboard until the top of the ninth inning. With the lead-off man reaching first for Stanford, Beau Ridgeway came to pitch in relief of Josh Sawyer. Ridgeway didn’t have anything on his pitches and was giving up hard hit after hard hit with relative ease and loaded the bases for the Cardinal. However, with two outs in the inning, Ridgeway managed to still give himself and the Horns a chance to escape the ninth and still have a chance at a comeback with the top of the order set to bat in the bottom of the ninth.
And again, with two outs, the Longhorns failed to get off the field. Ridgeway served up a homerun to Stanford’s Kyle Stowers, and the Cardinal would add three more runs for insurance and head into the bottom of the ninth up 9-3. And although Texas was able to put two men on base, the Horns couldn’t get either of them home and lost the game.
Looking back, there are three big moments of the game that could’ve dramatically shifted things in Texas’s favor. If Texas is able to escape the second and ninth innings and get their third outs instead of giving up three runs, and/or if Texas is able to bring runners home in their own two-out scenario they encountered in the fourth inning, then this could be a much different ball game.
Obviously, hindsight is twenty/twenty, and shouldn’t distract from the fact that UT didn’t show up to play at the beginning of the game. Aside from giving up five runs in two innings, the Horns were also held without a hit the first time through the order. Despite some good individual moments and plays, overall the Horns got outplayed by Stanford and dropped their second straight to the Cardinal.
Texas will play Stanford tomorrow one last time this series before the Cardinal make like trees and leave Austin. First pitch is set for 1:00 PM CT, and you can catch the game at the Disch or on LHN.