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No. 1 Texas squeaks past Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, 5-4

The Longhorns struggled with runners in scoring position and allowed four unearned runs while committing three errors, but left the Gulf Coast with a win.

The No. 1-ranked Texas Longhorns completed their sweep of the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders on Wednesday evening with a 5-4 win at Whataburger Field in Corpus Christi. A late sacrifice fly in the seventh inning off the bat of pinch-hitter Skyler Messinger pushed the Longhorns to the narrow win.

Playing on a cold day for South Texas with the temperatures at first pitch at just 45 degrees, Texas called upon sophomore left-hander Lucas Gordon to start the game. And while his box score turned out pretty darn good for a player making his second career start (5.0 innings pitched with just two base runners allowed and four strikeouts) he was the recipient of some bad luck in the opening frames of the game.

A&M-Corpus Christi kicked off the scoring with an unearned run in the bottom of the second thanks to a throwing error by junior shortstop Trey Faltine and two wild pitches, and the Islanders were able to add three more runs in the fifth inning — all of them unearned. All things considered, Gordon pitched well as he survived three errors committed by the Longhorn defense and didn’t allow his first hit of the game until the fifth inning.

Fortunately, the Longhorns able to keep up with the Islanders in the first half of the game, matching the score through the first five innings at four runs a piece. Texas scored two runs in the third inning, one in the fourth, and one more in the fifth off of timely, patient hitting from multiple batters. In fact, of the five runs Texas scored in the game, four of the five came off of counts with two strikes.

It wasn’t until the seventh inning that Texas was able to take the lead back from Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and break the stalemate. After five innings from Gordon and a quality inning of relief from Daniel Blair (1.0 inning pitched, two strikeouts, one walk), catcher Slias Ardoin led the seventh inning off with a leadoff single before ultimately advancing to third base with just one out. Head coach David Pierce called on Messinger to pinch hit in the designated hitter spot, and the Kansas transfer came through with a sacrifice fly to score Ardoin and put UT up 5-4.

The remaining three frames were closed out by a duo of Texas relievers. Left-hander Luke Harrison held the Islanders at bay with two innings pitched, allowing just two base runners and striking out one, while closer Aaron Nixon picked up his first save of the season with a scoreless, two-strikeout, one-walk ninth inning.

The team pitching performance from the Texas staff was yet again stellar, as the combined four pitchers for Texas allowed just two hits and four walks all game while striking out nine. On the other side of the plate, it was a team effort to score runs, with five Longhorns accounting for five RBI. Silas Ardoin led the way for the Horns with a 3-for-5 day with two doubles, three runs, and one RBI. However, Texas also left 10 runners on base and struck out nine times.

With the win, the Longhorns escaped Corpus Christi by what is so far their only remotely competitive game of the season. But while the past few nights have seen many ranked teams drop mid-week games to unranked opponents (including No. 4 Oklahoma State, No. 10 Florida State, No. 11 Arizona, and No. 19 Georgia Tech taking losses just yesterday), the Longhorns will gladly take their perfect 5-0 record into the weekend, where they will face fellow undefeated 5-0 Alabama in Austin at UFCU Disch-Falk Field.

Just a heads up though regarding this weekend’s games — due to another round of potentially freezing weather, UT has shifted the game times from their original scheduling. If you aren’t planning on heading down to the Disch, you can also catch these games on Longhorn Network.