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Texas Longhorns baseball hosts Stanford in top-25 showdown

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The ‘Horns will face a difficult task against the 11-1 Cardinal in this weekend’s four-game series.

Texas Sports — @Texasbaseball Twitter

As if there wasn’t already enough Silicon Valley bros headed to Austin for South by Southwest, Stanford Cardinal baseball (11-1) will come to town to face the Texas Longhorns (8-4) in a four game series starting tonight at 6:30 pm CST.

Stanford will be one of Texas’ toughest tests of the season, as the Cardinal have ridden dominant pitching to victory against excellent teams. Stanford has swept the likes of Cal State Fullerton and Rice, and also beat Michigan in three of four games.

On offense, Stanford isn’t nearly as special, as the Cardinal have hit only .243 on the year. However, there are still some stars in the lineup, such as outfielder Brandon Wulff, who has hit .368 on the season. Also be on the lookout for Andrew Daschbach, who has hit three dingers and leads the Cardinal with a .639 slugging percentage.

This weekend will be a great litmus test for the ‘Horns, as Texas hasn’t played a team nearly as complete as Stanford. The ‘Horns did travel to Baton Rouge to play LSU, but the Tigers struggled from the mound and were far from a finished product.

Texas must continue its hot hitting streak, which will be no easy task against a Stanford group that has only allowed two or less runs in seven of twelve games so far. The ‘Horns are hitting a respectable .282 on the year, but may need to rely on walks and timely homers from guys like Zach Zubia rather than rally from base hits this weekend. Batters have only hit .197 this season against Stanford.

In my opinion, the ‘Horns splitting this series with two wins (something Texas failed to do at Stanford last year) would be a really respectable showing. Below are the headliners — I mean, starting pitchers — for Disch by Falk West festivities this weekend.

Thursday — 6:30 pm

Texas RHP Nico O’Donnell: O’Donnell (1.04 ERA) has two appearances to his Longhorn career — a 3.1 inning start against Lamar and a 5.1 inning start against UTSA. However, the freshman looked comfortable in the latter performance, notching six strikeouts, two walks and one hit. Stanford is a big step up from mid-week games O’Donnell has appeared in, but David Pierce is putting his trust in the San Antonio Native to kick off the weekend the right way.

Stanford RHP Tristan Beck: A bit of chess is being played by the two head coaches this weekend, as the Cardinal are rolling out their stud on Thursday while the ‘Horns are going with a mid-week starter. Beck (1.50 ERA) has struck out a team-high 20 batters in his 18 innings pitched and batters are only hitting .161 against him. The 6’4 junior has a rapidly rising MLB draft stock and will look to carry that momentum into Thursday night.

Friday — 6:30 pm

Texas RHP Nolan Kingham: After a dominant 2017 season, the Kingham (3.57 ERA) was expected to be Texas’ ace this season. However, the junior has looked only good, but not great so far. Kingham followed up a disappointing start against LSU with a less than ideal game against Northwestern in which he allowed seven hits and three runs in 5.2 innings. However, the Las Vegas native did sit down seven batters last weekend against the Wildcats. Hopefully that’s a sign of his mojo coming back, because the ‘Horns will definitely need it.

Stanford LHP Kris Bubic: Bubic (1.56) is Stanford other undeniable star from the mound this season. The southpaw has racked up 18 strikeouts in 17.1 innings pitched, and allowed an opponent batting average of only .180. Don’t expect Bubic to be giving out any free passes to Disch by Falk West this weekend, as he has only walked two batters on the year.

Saturday — 2:30 pm

Texas RHP Blair Henley: Henley (0.53 ERA) has a bit unexpectedly been Texas’ most consistent starter by far this season. Despite not being a strikeout pitcher, the sophomore has thrown strikes and gotten out of jams at the right time. He has allowed only one run all season, which came in his first start against UL Lafayette.

Stanford LHP Erik Miller: Miller (4.22 ERA) was the starting pitcher in Stanford’s lone defeat this season, allowing three runs (two earned) in a 5-0 loss to Michigan. The freshman may be one of the more vulnerable Cardinal starters, but keep in mind that Miller was a top 100 overall recruit last season who was ranked as the best player in Missouri. The 6’5 lefty will be yet another tall task for ‘Horns hitters.

Sunday — 1 pm

Texas RHP Chase Shugart: Though Shugart (5.19 ERA) hasn’t looked as rocky as his numbers may make it appear, the junior hasn’t gone through a seamless transition from reliever to starter. Over the past two games (10.2 innings pitched), Shugart has struck out 10 total batters, but he has also allowed 14 hits and 10 runs (five in each start). The good news is that the once wild Shugart has only walked one batter on the season.

Stanford TBA: Brendan Beck (2.53 ERA) has made three starts this season and could definitely be a candidate to be the surprise headliner for this weekend’s festivities.