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Texas rebounds from Friday loss with series win over Kansas

On Sunday, Dylan Campbell set the school record with a 26-game hitting streak.

Texas baseball

With head coach David Pierce’s team still suffering the consequences of the sweep by the Oklahoma Sooners at home two weeks ago, the Texas Longhorns averted disaster in Lawrence with a series win over the Kansas Jayhawks.

Texas remains in fourth place in the Big 12 standings with a 12-9 record as first-place West Virginia looms as the final conference series following a next week’s non-conference tilt against San Jose State and moved up two spots to 25th nationally in D1Baseball’s RPI, but remained outside the Top 25.

There were positives as the Longhorns bounced back from a 10-4 Friday loss to win on Saturday and Sunday, especially right fielder Dylan Campbell breaking the 15-year-old record of 25 consecutive games with a base hit held by Michael Torres with a 2-for-3 performance in Sunday’s 7-6 victory. Texas also received key pitching performances from Lebarron Johnson Jr. and Travis Sthele to finish the weekend.

Friday’s defeat, which featured Campbell extending his hitting streak with an RBI single in the eighth, turned on a five-run fifth inning that knocked Texas ace left-hander Lucas Gordon from the game having allowed six runs, five earned, on nine hits over 4.2 innings, followed by three relievers who each gave up at least one run.

Three players had multi-hit games for the Horns, including catcher Garret Guillemette, who went 2-for-4 with a double, home run, and two RBI, but the bottom of the order struggled and the entire lineup wasn’t able to get to Jayhawks starter Colin Baumgartner, who gave up two earned runs in 6.2 innings.

Saturday’s 6-2 win was all about Johnson’s best performance for Texas — the lanky right-hander struck out a career-high 12 batters while allowing one run on four hits over a career-high 7.0 innings. By getting ahead early in counts with a fastball that reached 97 miles per hour and then erasing hitters with his split-finger pitch in the low 90s, Johnson avoided his typical command problems, issuing only one walk with one wild pitch.

The bats did the rest with first baseman Jared Thomas continuing his torrid month with a 4-for-5 performance that featured a double, triple, and an RBI. Designated hitter Tanner Carlson and shortstop Mitchell Daly each drove in two runs and Campbell hit his ninth home run of the season.

The 7-6 win on Sunday was a back-and-forth affair through the first six innings that sat at 3-3 until the Longhorns scored four runs in the seventh to break the game open with a combination of execution and power — Texas has two RBI singles, scored on a safety squeeze, and received a two-run home run by center fielder Eric Kennedy, his team-leading 12th.

With right-hander Tanner Witt needing 31 pitches to escape the first inning with only one run allowed, Texas turned to right-hander Travis Sthele needing the former weekend starter to eat up inning. and that’s exactly what Sthele did over 5.1 innings during which he scattered seven hits while allowing three runs and tying his career high with nine strikeouts.

The bullpen struggled to close the game, however, when right-hander Zane Morehouse was hit by two base hits to open the ninth inning, driving Morehouse from the game. Right-hander Andre Duplantier had to work around an error by third baseman Peyton Powell that loaded the bases, striking out red-hot Kansas second baseman Kodi Shojinaga on a full count before leaving after a fielder’s choice that scored one run and a single that cut the deficit to 7-6. With the tying run on second base, left-hander Ace Whitehead earned the first save of his Longhorns career with a strikeout looking on a 1-2 pitch.

Texas returns to UFCU Disch-Falk Field for the final seven games of the regular season, starting with a Tuesday matchup against UT Arlington.