Following an 11-3 win over the Air Force Fighting Falcons on Friday, the No. 9 seed Texas Longhorns return to UFCU Disch-Falk Field on Saturday to play the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs for a chance to play for a Super Regional bid on Sunday.
Against Air Force ace Paul Skenes, Texas entered the game with a strong plan at the plate and forced Skenes to work hard throughout his 4.0 innings, throwing 115 pitches, an average of five pitches per batter.
“I thought it was a great game for our team,” Texas head coach David Pierce said. “I thought our offense had an incredible plan. Just a ton of really tough outs, tough at bats against a very quality frontline pitcher and I think that was a key to the game when you’re looking at their offense versus our offense and our ability to just grind out at bats. One after the other was outstanding.”
The Longhorns finished with 12 hits, led by third baseman Skyler Messinger, who went 4-for-5 with three RBI and two runs scored. Designated hitter Austin Todd, benefiting from his recent adjustments at the plate, added three RBI. A five-run fifth inning broke the game open for Texas.
Left-hander Pete Hansen helped preserve the bullpen with 6.2 strong innings with help from right-hander Marcus Olivarez and right-hander Coy Cobb. Both relievers gave up one hit with Olivarez striking out three.
“Of course, Pete was outstanding as well — this kid loves being in those big-game environments and he’s been exceptional for us and he might have to help us a little more in the regional, but I know for sure if we get out of this thing, he’ll be ready for next Friday,” Pierce said.
Pierce came away happy with the overall performance.
“If I could have drawn this game up today, I would have drawn it up just like it happened,” Pierce said. “You play it in your mind, you kind of look at things, what we need to do to be successful against Skenes, What we need to do to be successful against their offense, and it just feels good.”
Louisiana Tech advanced to face the home team with a 12-5 win over Dallas Baptist keyed by five runs in the fifth inning and four runs in the sixth inning, aided by seven extra-base hits, including three home runs. Shortstop Taylor Young, the team’s best hitter, came through with two doubles among his three hits and catcher Jorge Corona hit his home runs in those two decisive innings, including a grand slam in the sixth.
Expect left-hander Lucas Gordon (7-1, 2.41 ERA) to receive the start for the Longhorns coming off 7.2 innings against the Horned Frogs in the Big 12 Tournament during which he allowed only a single earned run on two hits with four strikeouts. Gordon has pitched five innings or more in each of his last seven starts.
For Louisiana Tech, right-hander Ryan Jennings (5-1, 3.74 ERA) is the No. 2 starter who had a scoreless outing over 7.2 innings against Old Dominion in the Conference USA Tournament in his last start. In four May starts, Jennings allowed a total of four earned runs. Texas will want to avoid closer Kyle Crigger, who leads the team with a 1.79 ERA, has nine saves, and 74 strikeouts in 65.1 innings.
How to Watch:
Time: Saturday at 6 p.m. Central
TV: Longhorn Network
Radio: 104.9 FM The Horn/1260 AM
Weather: Partly cloudy, 93 degrees, southeast wind four miles per hour