Texas went 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position with zero RBI, leaving 11 runners on base. Combined with three baserunning mistakes in the first three innings and some poor luck on hard-hit balls in play, the Longhorns were stymied offensively.
With runners on first and second with two outs in the ninth inning, first baseman Zach Zubia capped a poor day by watching a third strike to end the game and set up a huge Sunday matchup with the winner taking the series.
Texas looked like it might mount a two-out rally in the first inning after second baseman Mitchell Daly had a loud out on a well-hit ball into the left-center gap. Zubia drew a walk and designated hitter Ivan Melendez singled into field field, but Zubia wasn’t watching head coach David Pierce at third base and tried to take the extra base, but was thrown out easily to end the frame.
Stevens got into trouble early, allowing a base hit to lead off the bottom of the first. A balk moved the runner to second and a groundout to second advanced the runner to third. But on a ground ball to Trey Faltine at shortstop, the TCU played tried to score and was cut down easily by Faltine for the second out. Another single put runners at first and third. A ground ball to Zubia got Stevens out of the first.
In the second, third baseman Cam Williams hooked a slider down the third-base line for a double and moved to third on a single from catcher DJ Petrinsky through the left side of the infield. Another baserunning mistake hurt the Longhorns, as Williams came off third base on a ball hit by right fielder Douglas Hodo III to the pitcher and was thrown out at home in the subsequent rundown. Another ground ball to the pitcher, this time by left fielder Eric Kennedy, put runners on second and third with two outs. Faltine hit a sharp ground ball up the middle, but it was right into the TCU shift for the third out and another missed opportunity for Texas.
Stevens looked like he might cruise through the second, but three straight singles produced two runs for the Horned Frogs to take the lead. A running catch by center fielder Mike Antico moving to his left limited the damage.
Antico led off the third with a bunt single and Daly followed with a bunt single of his own. Zubia hit a fly ball and Antico was able to score when the TCU center fielder’s throw to third was too high. Once again, however, a baserunning mistake marred the inning, as Daly was caught in a rundown on a ground ball from Melendez to shortstop. With the second baseman playing up the middle, Williams hit into a fielder’s choice on a hard-hit ball to end yet another threat for Texas.
When Stevens got out of the two-run second inning, he pitched three perfect frames until TCU singled to lead off the sixth inning. Zubia erased the runner with a nicely-done 3-6 double play and Stevens retired the side facing the minimum. Stevens only allowed one more runner before leaving the game after seven innings with two runs allowed on six hits and four strikeouts.
But the strong effort from Stevens wasn’t enough thanks to the offensive struggles.
First pitch on Sunday is at 1 p.m. Central on ESPN+.