After taking the series opener over 7th ranked Stanford, Texas Baseball dropped the next 3 games, capped off by a 11-1 victory by the Cardinal on Sunday afternoon. The Longhorns will now travel to Arkansas for a 2 game midweek series against the Razorbacks. Let’s take a look at some thought, takeaways and notes from the weekend.
Pitcher of the Weekend- Nico O’Donnell
Despite allowing 2 runs in 4 innings, there was a lot to like about Nico O’Donnell’s outing on Thursday. The freshman commanded both his breaking balls and showed improved command on his fastball. David Pierce sounded excited about development and future for O’Donnell, who continues to progress with each start he makes. While he doesn’t have an overpowering fastball (usually sitting in the high 80’s), his ability to throw a solid 3 pitch mix has been shown in all 3 of his starts.
Stat of the Weekend- 9.60
9.60 was the ERA for the Texas bullpen this weekend. On Saturday, Texas trailed 5-3 entering the 9th, but Beau Ridgeway and Josh Sawyer combined to allow 4 runs, helping Stanford pad their lead to 9-3. On Sunday, Texas only trailed 3-0 entering the 6th, when Chase Shugart exited with a injury. Bryce Elder and Jake McKenzie then let up a combined 4 walks and 5 runs, helping Stanford build a 9-0 lead.
Main Takeaway- The Bullpen
The bullpen is in desperate need of a shot in the arm. I was encouraged by what Kamron Fields showed in his first appearance of the year today, but he is still working his way back from a shoulder injury. David Pierce said they have to find a way to get Beau Ridgeway right, and it’s hard to argue with that. Ridgeway has forced Texas into a position where they are having to go with a closer by committee right now. Bryce Elder seemed like a potential solution, but the right-hander couldn’t record an out on Sunday, throwing 3 strikes in 14 pitches. Bryce Verplank flashed a great fastball-slider combination on Friday, but struggled a little more with his command on Sunday, allowing a walk and a run.
After the game, Pierce said Beau Ridgeway would receive the start on Tuesday against Arkansas, followed by Nico O’Donnell on Wednesday. The possibility of Ridgeway starting a game was mentioned on Saturday, but it has now been confirmed.
David Hamilton finished the final 2 games of the series by going 0 for 6 at the plate with 4 strikeouts. He continues to battle a right shoulder injury, playing at 2B instead of his usual position of SS on Sunday.
RHP Tristan Stevens continues his return from Tommy John surgery, and Pierce sounds increasingly confident that the Missouri native can be a contributor soon. Stevens would give Texas another arm to work with as roles continue to be defined in the Texas bullpen.
Quotes from David Pierce
Overall thoughts on the game
“Really tough day yesterday. Expected a little better in our fight to get back to even this weekend. The bottom is if you don’t have location against them, you are going to get beat. Chase didn’t have his location in the 1st, and then he located. Then we got to the 6th, and we brought our best two strike throwers to follow him, and for whatever reason it wasn’t good for them. Honestly, I thought [Stanford’s] pitcher pitched well, but we were very undisciplined at home plate. We had a very poor approach for the type of weather we were playing in. That was the bottom line.”
On the message to his team
“I think the biggest thing I want to see is our guys maintain their discipline. When things are going well for them, stay with it, and then when we struggle and are behind, get back to our discipline and doing the things that made them good. That’s my biggest message to them. It seems like we are down by 3 and everybody’s panicking and swinging with length instead of just passing the bat to the next guy.”
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