The Texas Longhorns skirted around some drama in the ninth inning, but held on to beat the Owls 5-4 on Sunday afternoon at Reckling Park in Houston. The win pushes Texas to 3-0 to start the season, which is the team’s best start since opening the 2009 season 11-0 en route to the school’s most recent College World Series final appearance.
Pitcher Tristan Stevens got the win by way of finishing off the fifth inning, but starter Coy Cobb provided Texas with an excellent start in his first appearance of the season. Cobb gave up six hits in the contest, but limited the Owls to nothing but singles and allowed just one walk in 4.1 innings of work, adding four strikeouts and needing just 63 pitches to retire 13 batters. He may not have received credit for the win, but Cobb’s performance allowed Texas to maintain its initial lead in the early innings of this game.
The Longhorns offense immediately got going in the first inning. After Austin Todd doubled to open the game, Zach Zubia later logged a sac fly to score Todd from third. A second run scored in the first following back-to-back doubles from DJ Petrinsky and Trey Faltine.
Scoring halted until the fourth inning, when Rice added a run to cut the Texas lead down to one. But the Longhorns didn’t wait long to get that run back, and then some — in the top of the fifth inning, Texas mounted a two-out rally, starting with Duke Ellis singling to right centerfield. Zubia followed with a double to bring in Ellis from first, then scored himself via another double by Petrinsky.
Texas added their last run of the game in the sixth inning, with Brenden Dixon singling to bring in Eric Kennedy from third. The Owls responded in the bottom of the sixth with a home run to cut the lead to 5-2, Texas.
Rice made a last-gasp comeback attempt in the bottom of the ninth. After an excellent eighth inning from junior college transfer Dawson Merryman, he ran into trouble in the ninth trying to record the save. A single to open up the inning was immediately followed with a home run that plated two Owls and cut the lead to 5-4. With that, Merryman’s day was done, and Pierce called on veteran reliever Donny Diaz to shut the door on the Owls. Diaz recorded a strikeout and induced two infield popups to get the save and complete the Longhorn sweep, 5-4.
This weekend couldn’t have gone much better for the Horns, who received ample production from veterans and young and new faces. Texas is one of three Big 12 teams to go undefeated in their opening weekend (along with Texas Tech and TCU). But unlike those schools, the Texas wins came on the road, and the victories over Rice undoubtably look better than Tech’s victories over Houston Baptist and Northern Colorado, and TCU’s wins over Kentucky.
Texas baseball returns to Austin to face UTEP on Tuesday night in the first contest of a five-game week for the Longhorns. Tune back here at Burnt Orange Nation for coverage of next week’s games.
For now, enjoy the undefeated start to the season.