Following two straight losses, the Longhorns turned to the weekend and ace starting pitcher Bryce Elder to get Texas back on the winning track. And after Elder put the Longhorns in a position to win after throwing 6.2 innings and allowing just one run, Texas flipped the switch and exploded for six runs in the bottom of the seventh, propelling them to a 6-1 victory Friday night at UFCU Disch-Falk Field. Eric Kennedy and DJ Petrinsky each recorded two RBI in the game, with Petrinsky’s coming off a two-run homer.
As he has every Friday this season, Elder was tasked with opening the weekend series. And, as he’s done every Friday all season, he made quick work of the Titans batters and set them down 1-2-3 to start the game. (Ignore LHN’s scoreboard error on CSF’s score)
Cal State Fullerton followed suit, holding the Longhorns to just one base runner in the inning - Austin Todd - who got on via a walk. In fact, neither team made any real threat to score through the first four innings, with only two runners from both teams combined reaching a base past first.
The first score of the game, instead, came all the way in the fifth inning. To this point, Elder was cruising through the Titans lineup, having already notched four strikeouts through four innings. But he ran into trouble in the fifth. After allowing two runners on base with two outs in the inning, Elder yielded a single into left field to CSF’s right fielder and full name scrabble champion, Kameron Guangorena. Elder settled things out with an induced ground out, but the Longhorns now trailed in the game, 1-0.
After making quick work of the Titans in another 1-2-3 inning in the sixth, Elder ran into some more problems in the seventh inning. After getting the first two batters he faced out, Elder hit and walked the next two batters to again put two runners on with two out. Coach David Pierce decided not to ride that situation out with Elder again, and went to the bullpen, ending Elder’s day. The Longhorn’s ace pitcher was at times brilliant, and at times sporadic with his location. He exited the game having thrown 6.2 innings, allowing five hits, three walks, two hit batters and one run, while striking out five.
Pierce called for Dawson Merryman in relief, who got out of the top half of the seventh by inducing a ground out. Up to this point, Texas had only put two runners on base, and were being one-hit by the visiting Titans.
Then, the seventh inning happened.
Zach Zubia led things off for the Horns, lacing a single up the middle to open the inning. After a Cam Williams sacrifice bunt moved Zubia into scoring position, Trey Faltine was walked to put two Longhorns on the bases, where Eric Kennedy brought ‘em both in with a two RBI double to left field.
With the Longhorns now holding their first lead of the ballgame, DJ Petrinsky took his spot in the batters’ box as next man up. And after working a full count, his home run shot to left field fired up the home crowd and put the Horns up, 4-1.
Elevate and Celebrate.— Jake García (@Jake_M_Garcia) March 7, 2020
DJ Petrinsky goes yard for the second time this season, and Texas has opened the floodgates in the 7th. pic.twitter.com/os3yBc0alX
The Longhorns added two more to their lead this inning. After a Cal State Fullerton pitching change, Texas subbed out Douglas Hodo III in favor of Peyton Powell. Powell got in board with a double, and that was followed up with a double off the bat of Murphy Stehly, pushing the Longhorn lead to four, 5-1 Texas.
Austin Todd drove in the final run of the inning and the game, plating Stehly from second with an RBI single up the middle. After the seventh inning, neither team made another threat to score, and Texas rode Merryman and Donny Diaz to a comfortable 6-1 victory - though the ninth inning didn’t lack for highlight plays.
Texas was able to string essentially all of their offensive production in one inning. That was good news for the Horns, since a few Bryce Elder mistakes in the fifth inning was the only real action the Titans bats provided in a night that was otherwise a pitchers’ duel.
Texas and Cal State Fullerton return to action tomorrow at UFCU Disch-Falk Field, with the game set to start at 12:00 PM CST. Like most games this season, you can find this game on Longhorn Network.
Tomorrow’s a big day in sports for Texas. The No. 2 Longhorns softball team plays at McCombs Field at 10:00 AM CST, followed by baseball, then men’s basketball tips off at 3:00 PM CST at the Erwin Center. Let’s hope for a nice little Saturday sweep on the 40 acres.