The Longhorn bats exploded in game 3 of the series against LSU, propelling Texas to a 11-1 victory. The win helped Texas avoid the sweep and get some momentum heading into this upcoming week, when the Longhorns will host UTSA in a midweek game and then welcome in Northwestern for a 4 game series. Let’s take a look at this past weekend’s performance against the Tigers:
Hitters of the Weekend- Zach Zubia and Tate Shaw
Zubia and Shaw both delivered huge offensive performances over the course of the weekend. After going 0 for 3 on Friday with 3 strikeouts, Zubia responded by delivering 6 RBI’s over the final 2 games. He blasted a pair of home runs on Saturday and drove in 3 runs on a bases clearing double on Sunday. Texas will never be mistaken for a power hitting team, but the presence of Zubia in the middle of the order gives David Pierce a run producer with big power. If he can continue to make consistent contact, Texas has found a true weapon at the DH spot going forward.
Shaw finished 0 for 9 against Louisiana-Lafayette opening weekend, but bounced back with a 2 for 3 performance against Lamar on Wednesday. The junior carried that performance over into this weekend, delivering 3 multi-hit games against the Tigers. Similar to last season, Shaw showed a willingness to hit the ball to all fields. His compact swing allows him to hit line drives and use his speed. Despite the series loss, the performances of Zubia and Shaw were encouraging for a team looking for consistent middle-of-the-order production.
Pitcher of the Weekend- Blair Henley
Entering Sunday, Texas pitchers had a 9.50 ERA for the weekend. Henley responded by tossing 6 scoreless innings in Texas’ lone win. The sophomore hurler danced around trouble for most the game, but in the end delivered a much needed performance and gave the bullpen some rest. Henley relied heavily on his 2 seam fastball to get key outs while also mixing in his offspeed pitches. Nolan Kingham and Chase Shugart could not avoid the big inning , but Henley effectively got out of jams, allowing the Texas offense to build a big lead.
Although the Longhorn’s lost the series, there were several positives that can be taken away from the 3 games in Baton Rouge. Several players who had a rough first weekend at the plate began to string together good at-bats. Texas very easy could have won the series if not for some defensive miscues, particularly on Saturday. David Pierce talked about how his team can not allow mistakes to snowball on them, allowing big innings like the ones put up on Friday and Saturday. It is hard to find better teaching moments than a series at Alex Box Stadium. Texas will get another good test this upcoming weekend when they welcome in a solid Northwestern club to Disch-Falk Field.
Quotes from David Pierce
On his thoughts on the series overall
“We played the first two games with the energy, I just thought we played with too much aggression and too much anxiety really. We got tense and things snowballed on us. They made a great commitment to trust their skills today and go out and play the game the right way.
On Blair Henley’s performance
“If he can maintain his focus and preparation through the week, you can see a lot of that. He was really good with location and we had some great defensive plays behind him early when the play could have gotten out of hand.”
On losing the shutout in the 9th
“It stings. Every time you have a chance for a shutout and don’t complete it, yeah it bothers us. Our pitchers and coach Haig, they have a pride in that. When we have opportunities for a shutout, we want to finish the game.”
Pierce mentioned after the game that while Zubia will be the DH going forward, the coaches want him to continue improving his footwork at first base so he can be an option to play in the field. This would help give the lineup more flexibility and options going forward.