David Pierce’s team is on a roll.
Texas Longhorns baseball (22-12, 9-3 Big 12) won its sixth straight on Sunday afternoon, defeating the Baylor Bears (14-16, 3-9 Big 12) 4-1 at Disch Falk Field to complete the series sweep. Since falling to 9-9 on March 14, the ‘Horns have bounced back to win 13 of their last 16 games.
On Sunday, the key for Texas yet again was stout defense. After Chase Shugart turned in seven scoreless innings on the mound Saturday, Blair Henley had a tremendous seven inning performance of his own — though he did allow a solo homer in the second.
Baylor is far from a good offensive team — they have only averaged two runs a game in their last 16 games — but the ‘Horns’ ability to hold the Bears in check this weekend could be an excellent sign that Texas is finally finding its defensive mojo.
On offense, Texas continues to look improved in year two of David Pierce, as the ‘Horns have sufficient pop in their lineup. Texas jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning on Sunday following a Kody Clemens RBI single and Zach Zubia two run blast. The dinger was Zubia’s sixth of the season.
Three up, three down for @blairhenley17 in the 3rd. @zachzubia will lead things off in the home half. He did this⬇️ in his first AB. pic.twitter.com/xOeyFehzB0— Texas Baseball (@TexasBaseball) April 8, 2018
Texas’ defense held highly steady after gaining a three run cushion. Henley allowed the aforementioned solo shot in the second, but otherwise turned in another great performance. The sophomore only notched four strikeouts and allowed five hits, three walks, and a hit by pitch, but expertly managed the game in his 99 pitches before being replaced by lefty Josh Sawyer.
Sawyer continued to have a solid weekend after turning in a scoreless inning on Friday night. Sawyer come on in the eighth after Henley allowed a leadoff single, and got a fielder’s choice, and then a “strike ‘em out, throw ‘em out” double play after Baylor tried to steal following a K.
In the bottom of the eighth, Texas added to its lead. David Hamilton earned a leadoff walk, and then Petrinsky knocked a double in the gap to easily score Hamilton.
Petrinsky would not end up scoring, and if there is one complaint about Texas on Sunday it’s that the ‘Horns could have scored even more. Texas left 10 runners on base on Sunday, and left at least one runner on base in every inning.
With Beau Ridgeway and Bryce Elder warming up in the bullpen, Sawyer came on again in the ninth and was able to close the game out without assistance. The lefty allowed a one-out single, but otherwise faced little trouble in giving Texas the series sweep.
Texas is ranked second in the Big 12, behind only the 8-0 Oklahoma Sooners. The ‘Horns will travel to Norman to face the top 25 foe in a key Big 12 series next weekend. But first, Texas will play another hated rival, as Texas will travel to College Station on Tuesday to play Texas A&M. It will be a very tough four games for the ‘Horns, as OU is ranked No. 19 in the nation, and the Aggies are just outside of the Top 25.
The ‘Horns themselves will be on the brink of the top 25 following the big weekend. Texas could put itself in position to host a regional if the team can continue the momentum. That is a big if, however, as Texas’ schedule will now start to pick up significantly.
For now, enjoy the sweep, Texas fans. After stuttering less than a month ago, it looks like Pierce’s team is back on track.