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No. 2 Texas drops third straight with 8-4 loss to College of Charleston

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Head coach David Pierce might want to avoid such extended stretches away from home after the Longhorns lost for the fifth time in seven games on Tuesday.

The No. 2 Texas Longhorns are limping into Wednesday’s final game of a stretch featuring 10 of 11 contests away from UFCU Disch-Falk Field after dropping Tuesday’s contest 8-4 against the College of Charleston Cougars at College of Charleston Baseball Stadium at Patriots Point.

The Longhorns have now lost three straight on their five-game road trip to South Carolina and five of the last seven overall as the bats have failed to generate enough run support for a pitching staff that suddenly looks extremely mortal without right-hander Tanner Witt, the Sunday starter for the first two games who is now out for the season with an elbow injury.

On Tuesday it was right-hander Andre Duplantier with his second straight disappointing start. After allowing six runs in the third inning and seven runs overall in 4.1 innings against Texas State in San Marcos last Tuesday, Duplantier dug himself a hole even more quickly in Mount Pleasant. The Cougars led off the game with an 0-2 single, singled again on the next pitch, both runners advanced on a wild pitch, then Duplantier walked the bases loaded with a free pass on five pitches. JT Marr broke open the scoring by wasting little time hitting his second home run of the season with a grand slam on the first pitch he saw.

Duplantier left his pitch up and out over the plate, but the announcers correctly identified the opposite-field swing by Marr as a popup. It just so happened to be a popup that found the short 300-foot wall in left field.

Finally able to record an out, Duplantier missed his location on another important pitch — with catcher Silas Ardoin set up outside, Duplantier left his pitch inside to Donald Hansis, who put a better swing on his pitch than Marr did, getting it just over the wall in right-center for a 5-0 lead.

Duplantier didn’t see the second inning, replaced by right-hander Justin Eckhardt, who started last Wednesday’s game against Texas State. Eckhardt gave up three singles and a stolen base to once again load the bases before recording his first out, which came on a fielder’s choice to extend the College of Charleston lead to 6-0. He escaped the second without further damage.

Texas finally responded in the third inning with second baseman Mitchell Daly leading off with a single and advancing on two groundouts before first baseman Ivan Melendez singled him home for yet another two-out RBI this season. After Ardoin doubled to put runners on second and third, right fielder Murphy Stehly singled to drive in two runs.

Eckhardt managed to last 3.1 innings total, allowing two runs on four hits with three strikeouts before he was replaced by left-hander Luke Harrison, who allowed one run over 2.2 innings on four hits with two strikeouts, but he did allow an inherited runner to score in the fifth inning and his own run to score in the sixth following a double and a triple. Right-hander Marcus Olivarez pitched the eighth, giving up a hit and striking out one batter.

The Longhorns were not able to come back from the early deficit, failing to score over the final five innings despite totaling 12 hits overall as the Cougars were able to come through in clutch situations, stranding 12 Texas baserunners. And it wasn’t for a lack of effort by the visitors, as the Horns left the bases loaded in the eighth and ninth innings after a home run by shortstop Trey Faltine ended their scoring in the fourth.

In the eighth, Texas loaded the bases with one out on two singles and a walk, but Daly struck out and so did center fielder Douglas Hodo III to end the threat. Neither went down easily — Daly saw five pitches and went down swinging, and Hodo saw seven pitches, reaching a full count, but went down swinging himself. Against Hodo, there wasn’t anything complicated about it for right-handed reliever William Privette, who simply threw a good fastball right by Hodo.

Privette worked two innings, striking out five to continue his stellar results in his 2022 season — he has a 0.95 ERA with 26 strikeouts and two saves in 19.0 innings. He just had to dodge two bases-loaded jams to preserve his minuscule ERA.

In the ninth, Texas sent the 2-3-4 hitters to the plate and looked poised to take advantage. Left fielder Eric Kennedy singled up the middle, Melendez drew a walk, and so did Stehly with one out. But pinch-hitter Dylan Campbell struck out swinging and third baseman Skyler Messinger flied out to center field to end the game.

Messinger was one of the primary culprits in the Longhorns failing to come through with two out and runners in scoring position, stranding six baserunners during a 1-for-5 performance. Hodo stranded three baserunners as Texas was unable to take advantage of seven combined hits from the 3-4-5 batters. Hitting in the six spot, designated hitter Peyton Powell was 0-for-3 with a walk and Messinger couldn’t come through behind him as his struggles continue.

Texas faces The Citadel at 6 p.m. Central on Wednesday in Charleston to end the lengthy period spent almost entirely away from the Disch. ESPN+ is broadcasting the game.