After playing 15 of the last 18 games against top-25 opponents, the No. 13 Texas Longhorns return home to UFCU Disch-Falk Field this weekend for a three-game series against the Xavier Musketeers following recent struggles.
A trip to Fort Worth last weekend resulted in two blown leads for Texas prior to a 3-2 loss to Incarnate Word in San Antonio on Tuesday — with the offense struggling and the team sitting at 17-11 overall, the Horns could use some success this weekend to springboard into a remaining schedule that does not currently feature a single ranked opponent.
At 9-15 overall, Xavier looks like a prime opponent to get Texas back on track in the first meetings between the two programs. The Musketeers are 7-12 on the road this season and lost the opening series to the No. 7 Tar Heels by a combined score of 34-9. A trip to Arizona State didn’t go much better, but Xavier did pull off a win against No. 8 Louisville before falling to Wright State by a score of 10-0 on Wednesday.
Xavier does have several dangerous hitters, including shortstop Chris Givens, who leads the team with a .350 batting average and team-leading 36 hits. Designated hitter Connor Grammes is riding a six-game hitting streak and sits at .320 on the season.
Also listed as the Sunday starter, Grammes has struggled on the mound this season — he’s 1-5 with a 7.33 ERA, largely because of control issues and his propensity to give up extra-base hits, including five home runs.
On Friday, Damien Richard will receive his first start of the season for Xavier after seven relief appearances that largely haven’t gone well, as his ERA currently sits at 9.98. Richard has struggled to limit base runners, allowing base hits and walks at a high rate in addition to hitting four batters in 15.1 innings.
Saturday starter Griffin Lanoue looks good by comparison with a 6.27 ERA, but Texas should have a major advantage on the mound throughout the weekend series. And the poor pitching by the Musketeers could help the Longhorns offense, as opponents are hitting .301 with 38 home runs against Xavier.
First pitch for Friday’s game is at 7:00 p.m. Central on Longhorn Network and 104.9 The Horn.