Let’s just agree not to ever play on the road again, K?
After a rough weekend on the road in Fort Worth, Texas dropped the final game of their four-game road trip with a 3-2 loss at Incarnate Word. The Longhorns (17-11, 3-3 Big 12) will finally return home after going a less-than-impressive 1-3 over their road trip.
Incarnate Word struck first in this game, scoring two runs in the bottom of the first off of Ty Madden, who left his last appearance with a shoulder injury. With the bases loaded and two outs, Matteo Bocchi came on in relief and was able to get an out to move to the second inning with the Horns down 2-0.
Texas got a run back in the top of the second to cut into the Incarnate Word lead. Zach Zubia led off the inning with a single, and eventually reached third base, scoring on a sacrifice fly by Masen Hibbeler sacrifice fly.
Unfortunately, the Cardinals got the run right back in the bottom of the second inning after a leadoff single came around to score on an RBI ground out. After two innings, Incarnate Word recovered their two-run lead with a score of 3-1.
The Longhorns were able to trim the lead to 3-2 with another sacrifice fly in the fifth inning. Hibbeler singled, stole second, and moved to third on a ground out before scoring on a sacrifice fly courtesy of Michael McCann.
But that was it for the runs in this game, as the score ended 3-2 with the Longhorns in the losing column after another disappointing performance from the plate yet again. The ending was particularly painful, as Hibbeler hit appeared to be a go-ahead home run in the ninth inning, but the ball was caught at the wall in left field.
The pitching from Texas kept them in the game, with good performances coming from Matteo Bocchi and Matt Whelan. Bocchi gave the Longhorns 4.1 innings, two strikeouts, and allowed just one run on four hits. Whelan pitched two scoreless innings out of the bullpen in an extended relief role.
But the offensive production, or lack thereof, was the real story of the games for the Horns. Texas struggled to get runners on base, with just eight total base runners off of four hits and four walks. On top of that, it’s not like the hits for Texas moved the needle that much, with only one extra base hit (a double) compared to three singles.
And that’s been the story of the Longhorns baseball team this season. The team is getting good-to-great pitching performances on a nearly routine basis. Like last year, though, it’s the offense that isn’t as routine, and is suspect to weak showings or off nights like tonight.
This issue is treatable, in the sense that good pitching can win games and typically win more often than not. But if the bats don’t wake up, it will be a tough task for this Longhorns team to duplicate and build upon its success from last year.
Texas plays next at home against Xavier, where the Longhorns will hope to get back to their winning ways with a weekend series against the Musketeers.