Looking for a sweep to open the 2019 season, the Texas bats came alive a little too late and the pitching staff struggled as a unit, resulting in an 8-6 loss to Louisiana on Sunday.
With Texas losing Nolan Kingham and Chase Shugart to the 2018 MLB draft last season, David Pierce has been tasked with figuring out how his starting pitching staff will look; something that could easily take a few weeks with so many new arms on campus.
With that being said, true freshman and Katy High School product, Coy Cobb (quite the baseball name) got the nod for the Longhorns in the series finale.
The young right-hander struggled in his collegiate debut. Cobb’s day ended after 3.1 innings pitched, allowing four runs (three earned) on four hits, while issuing two walks.
Cobb was given one run of support in the 2nd inning after Ryan Reynolds doubled down the left field line with one out. After a sacrifice fly off the bat of Masen Hibbeler, Reynolds advanced to third and would then come across to score thanks to a Ragin’ Cajun throwing error.
Pierce turned to a plethora of pitchers to get the Longhorns through the rest of the game. Replacing Cobb, Tristan Stevens entered the game and walked two batters before being pulled without recording an out in favor of Brandon Ivey. Ivey retired the only two batters he faced.
In attempts to analyze another one of his young arms, Pierce made another call to the bullpen, bringing in 6’9” RHP Jack Neely. Unfortunately things wouldn’t fair any better for the freshman. Facing just three batters, Neely walked two, allowed a hit and was charged with three earned runs after Matt Whelan entered the game with the bases loaded.
Whelan would allow four total runs, three of which were charged to Neely, to cross the plate after a bases loaded walk, a sacrifice fly, followed by a two RBI single. Extending the Louisiana lead to 8-1.
The Horns’ bats remained ice cold until the top half of the 7th inning.
Facing experienced RHP Jack Burk, Michael McCann was able to reach on a throwing error by SS Hayden Cantrelle. Pierce then brought on Lance Ford to pinch hit for Bryce Reagan. Ford laced a single to right allowing McCan to advance and eventually come across to score following another Louisiana throwing error.
On base king, Duke Ellis drew a walk after working a full count to put two on for pinch hitter Eric Kennedy (hit for Kamron Fields). Kennedy put the Longhorns right back in the game after launching a 1-0 pitch over the left field wall. The oppo-taco was the Kennedy’s first career long ball, making the score 8-5 in favor of the Ragin’ Cajuns.
Matteo Bocchi, who most definitely will get a shot at a spot in the starting rotation, finished out the remaining three innings for Texas, holding Louisiana to just a couple of walks.
In the 9th, Texas had its best chance to at least tie the game, if not take the lead, after bringing seven hitters to the plate.
Austin Todd reached on a single through the left side, followed by a pair of walks to Zach Zubia and Ryan Reynolds. Loading the bases for Masen Hibbeler with two outs after a groundout and strikeout earlier in the inning.
Hibbeler walked after working a 3-1 count to pull the Horns within two.
Tate Shaw strolled to the plate in place of McCann with a chance to add to the Texas rally.
Unfortunately Shaw was caught looking on a 1-2 pitch that buried the hopes of a Texas comeback.
All things considered, this was a successful weekend for David Pierce and his team. He will continue to tweak the lineup as he figures out what works best and things will continue to fall into place. I like the direction of where this team is headed. Duke Ellis is my series MVP after reaching base 10 times. Talk about a table setter. He added to his strong weekend with a pair of highlight reel catches while roaming centerfield.
The Longhorns return to action on Tuesday as they make the short trip to Houston to take on the Rice Owls. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m. CST.