Another good midweek start from left-hander Pete Hansen and two runs in the bottom of the first inning got the No. 9 Texas Longhorns (15-6) off to a good start against the Incarnate Word Cardinals (8-6) on Tuesday and the Horns didn’t let up in the 10-1 victory at UFCU Disch-Falk Field.
Still trying to work his way back into the weekend rotation and regain all of his velocity, Hansen started out the game working efficiently, retiring the side in the first inning on only seven pitches thanks to strong command that allowed him to pitch to contact.
When the Cardinals did hit the ball hard in the first inning, Dylan Campbell took an adventurous route to the hard-hit line drive towards the left-center gap, but was able to come up with the play in his first outfield start at Texas.
Campbell made the necessary plays in the outfield with three other putouts, but his bat was more impressive — he hit the first home run of career, driving a ball to right-center field with a short, powerful swing and driving in another run with an RBI in the second inning. His approach at the plate was steady enough that he hit the ball hard even when he was retired.
It was a positive performance for Campbell, who typically plays second base — head coach David Pierce is trying to find a fourth outfielder with the season-ending injury suffered by Austin Todd and with a left-hander on the mound, Pierce went with Campbell over Dalton Porter, one of the team’s few left-handed hitters. Call the experiment a success through one game.
An even more lightly-used player came through late in the contest. After getting off to a rough start to his career in 2019 with only two hits in 25 at bats, outfielder Peter Geib missed the 2020 season due to injury. He appeared in two games earlier in this season, but saw his first at bat in nearly two years as a pinch hitter in the seventh inning with two runners on base and came through, smashing a first-pitch fastball into the visitor’s bullpen for the final margin.
In support of Hansen, the Longhorns got off to a fast start as Pierce’s team once again illustrated how dangerous the speed at the top of the order can be — right fielder Douglas Hodo III reached on a bunt single and advanced on a throwing error by the catcher and center fielder Eric Kennedy also reached on a bunt single, setting up sacrifice flies from first baseman Ivan Melendez and third baseman Cam Williams.
Campbell had a nice piece of hitting in the second inning, going down to get a low pitch with two strikes and sending it into right field, where the combination of the ball moving from the shade of the stadium into the bright sunlight resulted in a hit that scored designated hitter Tanner Witt. A lashed liner that the second baseman couldn’t corral led off the inning for Witt, but he had to wait to score when a double from second baseman Mitchell Daly found the visitor’s bullpen cutout in left field. Then a sacrifice fly by Hodo scored the fourth run of the game for the Longhorns.
Witt had a solid day at the plate in his second game as a designated hitter, going 2-for-2 with a walk.
On the mound, Hansen had all the run support he needed and made the most of it, throwing 77 pitches in 4.1 shutout innings, scattering four hits and walking two batters with four strikeouts.
In relief, right-hander Cole Quintanilla, left-hander Lucas Gordon, and right-hander Coy Cobb all pitched well, but right-hander Parmer Wenzel was a bit shaky, allowing a run on three hits in his only inning of work.
All told, though, it was another dominating performance in a midweek game — the Horns have now scored 61 runs in the five midweek contests. The only real blemish came when the bullpen allowed Sam Houston State turn a 10-2 lead into a close contest with a seven-run seventh inning before Texas scored five runs in the next two frames.
The Longhorns remain at the Disch for a weekend rivalry series against the 12-7 Sooners in the first away series for Skip Johnson’s team.