The No. 19 Texas Longhorns make the short trip up I-35 for a weekend series against the Baylor Bears at Baylor Ballpark seeking to maintain first place in the Big 12 standings.
The matchup pits Texas assistant Steve Rodriguez against the team he coached for seven seasons, including in a sweep last year in Austin during which the Longhorns outscored the Bears 46-9 after taking the series in Waco in 2021. Baylor is winless on the road this season and only 12-11 at home, but has won seven of 10 games at Baylor Ballpark in the last month.
Over the last two days, the Longhorns have been able to get some much-needed rest for a pitching staff forced into action over five straight days after last Thursday’s game against the Wildcats was delayed until Friday. On Monday, the staff held in a 5-2 win over Texas State in San Marcos before falling apart on Tuesday in Austin as right-hander Cameron O’Banan suffered the loss in his collegiate debut, allowing three runs in 0.2 innings, and right-hander Max Grubbs gave up four runs in 1.1 innings in the 9-3 loss.
Needing a series win if not a sweep against a team with a 12-21 overall record, Texas will be in better shape on the mound with a staff that still possesses a Big 12-leading 3.45 ERA overall and is holding opponents to a .231 batting average. Facing a mediocre Baylor offense should help, too — the Bears are hitting 260 as a team with 26 home runs and a .398 slugging percentage. The top of the order is capable with four players hitting over .300, led by infielder Kolby Branch at .364 with 13 doubles, but drops off quickly.
Even with the lack of depth and power offensively, it’s the pitching staff that has struggled the most for Baylor with a 6.78 ERA as opponents hit .301 with 35 home runs allowed, including 10 combined by the Friday and Saturday starters, who have a 1-8 record.
So Texas should be able to get hits and score runs as third baseman Peyton Powell tries to bounce back from a 1-for-7 performance in the two games against Texas Tech. Catcher Garret Guillemette struggled, too, going hitless in eight at bats with five strikeouts.
There is a new twist in the rotation, too, with right-hander Charlie Hurley moving into the Saturday role with right-hander Travis Sthele either available in relief or as the Sunday starter. Sthele hasn’t been poor this year with a 4.91, but he’s struggled to eat up innings and the Longhorns are 3-5 in his starts.
Probable pitching matchups
FRIDAY–Texas LHP Lucas Gordon (3-0, 2.17) vs. Baylor RHP Blake Helton (0-3, 7.61)
SATURDAY–Texas RHP Charlie Hurley (3-0, 2.43) vs. Baylor RHP Mason Marriott (1-5, 7.97)
SUNDAY–Texas TBA vs. Baylor RHP Will Rigney (3-1, 3.31)
First pitch on Friday is at 6:30 p.m. Central before a 2 p.m. Central matchup on Saturday and a 1 p.m. Central finale on Sunday. All three games will air on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.