Legendary novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote: “It’s a funny thing about coming home. Looks the same, smells the same, feels the same. You realize what has changed is you.”
Well, for the No. 12 Texas Longhorns, they certainly returned home to the friendly confines of UFCU Disch-Falk Field a changed team on Tuesday evening. After mustering up just 11 runs over their past five games, Texas absolutely blasted Texas Southern by the score of 17-3. The game was called after seven innings, as both managers had agreed to a run-rule policy before the game.
Typically, these post-game recaps would be an excellent place to read up on both analysis as well as a detailed account of scoring plays and critical moments of the game. However, under these special circumstances of dealing with a football score to cover, please excuse and enjoy an abridged re-telling of tonight’s monstrous beatdown over Texas Southern.
Manager David Pierce tabbed sophomore pitcher Matt Whelan to make his third start of the year. Whelan, who started the last game at the Disch, had arguably his best performance of the young season.
Whelan was able to go four innings, ultimately pitching more than half the game for the ‘Horns. In those four innings of work, Whelan allowed three hits and one earned run, while striking out five and throwing 62 total pitches.
Texas used three pitchers in relief of Whelan — Nico O’Donnell, Matteo Bocchi, and Jack Neely combined to throw three innings, with O’Donnell allowing the other two runs to Texas Southern as Bocchi and Neely each threw scoreless frames.
However, who are we kidding talking about pitching? Tonight was about one thing — the offense.
Texas Southern was actually be the first team to break the ice on the scoreboard, scoring a run off Whelan in the top of the second to get out to a 1-0 lead.
But after that, it was all Texas.
Texas responded with four runs in the bottom of the second, utilizing four walks and two hit batters to their advantage. Somehow, the Longhorns were able to score four runs with just one hit in the inning, a single from sophomore third baseman Ryan Reynolds.
The third inning provided a little more fireworks for the fans in burnt orange.
Texas plated five more runs to extend the lead to 9-1, this time using their bats in lieu of patience and favorable pitch counts. Reynolds singled again, and senior first baseman Tate Shaw was hit by a pitch to put two runners on. Senior shortstop Masen Hibbeler drove in the first run of the inning with an RBI double to left field.
After freshman second baseman Lance Ford got on base with an infield single, the bases were loaded for freshman catcher Caston Peter. Steppping up to the plate, and the moment, Peter ripped a two-run double down the right field line for his first RBI of the season.
The scoring wasn’t not quite over, and not to be outdone himself, freshman left fielder Eric Kennedy capped off the inning with his own two-run double to right field.
Texas added a mere single run to their lead in the fifth inning with an RBI single by junior right fielder Austin Todd to push the game to 10-1. Texas Southern responded in their next time up with two runs in the sixth to cut the lead to 10-3.
At that point, Texas decided enough was enough, proceeding with their best offensive performance in a single inning this season and bludgeoning the Tigers in the sixth inning by scoring seven runs.
Peter, who already had knocked in his first two RBIs of the season, one-upped himself by knocking in three more to go along with his first home run of the season to score the first three runs of the inning.
Four more runs scored, with two coming via a throwing error on a ball hit by sophomore designed hitter Zach Zubia, and two coming off of singles.
Texas and Texas Southern took the field for the top of the seventh, but Neely retired the side and the game was called after 6.5 innings of play — Texas had defeated the Texas Southern Tigers by virtue of a pre-determined run rule, final score 17-3.
Now, before you celebrate this victory too hard, keep in mind that Texas Southern wasn’t exactly, how you say, a good opponent. The Tigers came into tonight’s game sporting a 2-10 record, and allowed on average 13.5 runs per game. A victory this large, quite honestly, should have been expected from Longhorns fans out of respect to what Texas has done so far this season.
However, that doesn’t make this victory any less a reason to praise individual performances or take positive momentum into a huge conference opening series against Texas Tech this weekend.
Peter had his biggest game of his career, and lineup mainstays such as Hibbeler, Reynolds, and Kennedy all had a multi-hit game and were responsible for at least two runs a piece in tonight’s win. Junior center fielder Duke Ellis continued his hot start to the season with a 2-for-4 performance, including a walk and two runs. Todd added another RBI to his team-leading total of 21. Whelan turned in a great start, as Texas continues to search for it’s best midweek starter and fourth option on the mound.
Sure, it was Texas Southern. Saying they’re bad this season might actually be a compliment. Noting that Texas only scored 17 runs is, perhaps, a legitimate complaint.
But it’s a midweek game. These can be weird. This was the final game before a five-game stretch of facing No. 11 Texas Tech and No. 14 Arkansas. If this was the final tune-up before facing some of college baseball’s big boys — you take this result, and the positives with it.
Enjoy tonight, Horns fans. Because the real fun is just about to begin.
Texas will turn their attention to hosting Texas Tech this weekend for a three-game series to kick off conference play. Texas Tech, the preseason favorite to win the Big 12, will undoubtedly be a tough opponent in what could be a pivotal, conference-deciding series. Taking at least two out of three games at home against Tech could be a necessity if Texas has any hope of repeating as Big 12 Champions.
Check back here for your preview of the Texas Tech series later in the week, and for the latest news and rumors surrounding the Texas baseball team, and all other going-ons on and around the Forty Acres.