Giving away the series opener on Friday night amplified the importance of game two for the No. 9 Texas Longhorns on Saturday night in Forth Worth.
Entering Saturday night’s contest, this team had two options after watching the No. 22 TCU Horned Frogs celebrate a walk off victory a night ago — feel bad for themselves and allow TCU to walk all over them or forget all about the loss and prove that they are the better team.
It quickly became evident which option this team decided on. Whatever words head coach David Pierce had for his team after last night, he clearly got the point across to secure a 13-1 win.
Just minutes into the game, Texas secured a 2-0 lead after sophomore designated hitter Zach Zubia sent a laser over the left field fence that appeared to have an exit velocity of approximately 110 MPH. The big man made sure this one had no chance of being robbed.
Texas junior right-hander Blair Henley had the luxury of taking the mound with a lead before even throwing a pitch. Despite the early cushion, however, Henley issued a leadoff walk that quickly turned into a bases-loaded threat for the Horned Frogs after back-to-back hits.
It appeared the very first inning of this game was going to be “that inning” for Henley. Instead, the veteran righty remained composed and was able to escape the jam by giving up just one run on a tailor-made double play, followed by a huge strikeout.
Spoiler alert: Henley never had “that inning” tonight. He attacked the zone and did a great job mixing his pitches. He overpowered several of TCU’s best hitters with his fastball, which topped out at 95 MPH.
Blair Henley: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 SO, 93 pitches
In the third inning, the Longhorns sent nine batters to the plate, four of which came across to score after a trio of base hits and walks, along with a sacrifice fly off the bat of senior shortstop Masen Hibbeler.
Just like that and Texas was out in front 6-1, but not for long.
The top of fourth resulted in another run for the Horns as junior center fielder Duke Ellis reached base with one away.
Ellis eventually advanced to third base thanks to a ground out and wild pitch. With two outs away, Texas risked stranding Ellis 90 feet from home when junior right fielder Austin Todd delivered with another RBI knock.
Despite the comfortable lead going into the fifth inning, Texas went for the jugular.
The Horns sent nine to the plate once again, this time scoring five. The big blow came off the bat of freshan left fielder Eric Kennedy after turning a 93 MPH, two-out fastball into a bases-clearing triple into right field. Todd and Zubia added to their RBI totals with a run scoring double and single, respectively.
Thirteen runs. That’s how you respond after dropping a game that you should have won.
Jack Neely and Donny Diaz finished things out for the Longhorns, allowing Pierce to give some much needed rest to the rest of his bullpen.
With the win, the Longhorns improve to 17-9 and will look to win the series on Sunday afternoon. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m. Central on FSSW+.