On a cloudy, windy day at the Disch, the Texas Longhorns appeared to be suffering from that lost hour of sleep that we all had to endure this morning. Not so much for the Stanford Cardinal baseball team, however.
Stanford came right out of the gate fully caffeinated and quickly got the scoring started against Texas starter Chase Shugart after Cardinal clean up hitter Andrew Daschbach blasted a one out 3 run, no-doubter to left field. Shugart escaped the inning with no further damage done after Stanford’s Kyle Stowers was thrown out attempting to steal second base.
Stanford starting pitcher Brendan Beck, younger brother of Thursday night starter Tristan Beck, was locked in from the first pitch he threw. Beck made quick work of the Longhorns in the home half of the first, sitting the ‘Horns down 1-2-3. That would become the theme of the next couple of innings as Shugart and Beck would go on to exchange three-up, three-down innings into the top of the fourth after Andrew Daschbach reached after getting plunked by a 0-1 pitch from Shugart. Daschbach would advance to third after a couple of Cardinal groundouts, but would be stranded there to end the inning.
The Longhorns struggled mightily against Brendan Beck who was perfect through five complete innings. Fifteen up, 15 down for the freshman right-hander. Beck was efficient, and did a great job keeping the ball down in the zone, producing a lot of weak contact from the Texas bats.
Even with the gem that Beck was trowing for Stanford, the Longhorns still found themselves right in the thick of the game, after Shugart was able to settle in and put up four scoreless innings, until the top of the 6th inning. An inning that could only be described as implosion from the Texas pitching staff.
Shugart was forced to exit the game before recording an out in the 6th after an awkward landing on his plant foot. David Pierce and the trainer came out to check on the Texas starter, but after a brief conversation, Pierce made the move to Bryce Elder, who had been warming up in the bullpen. The true freshman entered the game and struggled to find the strike zone. The first two Stanford hitters reached via the walk, followed by a single back up the middle to load the bases with nobody out. Elder, who appeared rattled, failed to throw a single strike to next batter and fell behind in the count 3-0.
Pierce had seen enough and decided to go get Elder from the game and bring in Jake McKenzie, who had been warming up off and on since the game started. At least it felt that way.
The first pitch from McKenzie resulted in ball four and a run came in to score, making it 4-0 Stanford. McKenzie struggled a bit with command as a wild-pitch plated another run. Still with nobody out the Texas bullpen would issue the fourth walk of inning to load the bases once again. McKenzie battled to get back-to-back strikeouts before walking the fifth Cardinal hitter of the inning. After a pass ball, HBP, and a two-run single, the ‘Horns finally found their way out of the inning after a pop up in foul ground stopped the bleeding. Stanford found themselves in complete control after the six-run inning made it 9-0 with Beck still pitching a perfect game.
After 17 straight Texas batters were set down by Beck, Duke Ellis finally cracked the code with two outs in the Longhorns half of the 6th with a single that just snuck under the glove of Beck. That would be the extent of the excitement for Texas as a strike out would end the inning.
Pierce turned to Matteo Bocchi in the 7th, who recorded two quick outs before giving up a double and a walk. The next batter singled off of Bocchi to extend the Stanford lead 10-0.
After a leadoff single by Masen Hibbeler in the 7th, Stanford pulled Beck from the game, drawing a nice ovation from the Longhorn faithful. Rightfully so, as he was masterful this afternoon. An RBI groundout later in the inning by Zach Zubia gave the ‘Horns their only run of the game.
If there is one bright spot to focus on for this game, it is what we saw out of Kamron Fields on the mound. In his first appearance as a pitcher for the Longhorns, the freshman earned his first career strikeout against the first batter he faced...on only three pitches. He then got a fly out, and a ground out to end the inning. A 1-2-3 inning in your first collegiate appearance? Not bad, young man.
Stanford added one final run in the 9th and the Longhorns went quietly in the bottom of the 9th to end the game 11-1, sealing the 3-1 series victory for the Cardinal.
After an 8-6 game one victory Thursday night, the Longhorns went on to only score a total of 5 runs over the course of the next three games. The Longhorns pitching staff gave up 33 runs during this 4 game set with Stanford. That will not win you many ballgames.
Unfortunately, things won’t get any easier for David Pierce and his team as Texas faces a quick turnaround before traveling to Fayetteville, Arkansas for a 2 game midweek series against the 5th ranked Razorbacks. It is gut check time for this team and we will find out a lot about what they are made of come Tuesday and Wednesday.
I will be happy with a split against Arkansas but right now, that doesn’t look like a good bet. Anything can happen though and I want to believe that Pierce will have his team ready to send a message once game time rolls around Tuesday night.
Things should get better. Until then, keep your horns up.