Saturated conditions did not make the final game of the series between Texas and Louisiana-Lafayette particularly pretty to watch as the Longhorns failed to complete the sweep against the Ragin’ Cajuns.
Walks, especially, hurt Texas’ chances of pulling out the brooms as it dug itself into a deep hole it couldn’t quite pull themselves out of. On Sunday, Texas lost to Louisiana-Lafayette 8-6 and was unable to finish off its series on a high note in Lafayette, La.
The Longhorns’ pitching staff struggled consistently with its control and issued seven walks through five innings. Starting pitcher freshman Coy Cobb made his collegiate debut and was only able to get through 3.1 innings before being pulled due to pitch count reasons. The Ragin’ Cajuns took advantage of the young arm to the tune of four runs (three earned) and coerced Cobb into two walks.
Redshirt sophomore Tristan Stevens, who came into the game in relief of Cobb, made an appearance he will soon like to forget. After walking his first two batters, he was pulled from action and replaced by senior Brandon Ivey. Ivey, who has found his role as the team’s only left-hander, was perfect in his appearance. In his two outs of duty, he came away spotless and handed off the reins to true freshman Jack Neely going into the fifth inning.
Neely, like Stevens, had a rough outing. Neely failed to record even one out and allowed three earned runs and two walks in his collegiate debut. Sophomore Matt Whelan played mop-up duty and allowed one earned run himself.
Meanwhile, offensively, Texas was stagnant. Through six innings, the Longhorn bats only mustered one run that came from a junior third baseman Ryan Reynolds double in the second inning.
Down 8-1 Texas showed fight as a four-run seventh inning propelled Texas back into the game. The momentum was heavily guided by freshman outfielder Eric Kennedy, who smacked his first career home run, in pinch-hit duty.
The three-run opposite field bomb was the turning point for Texas as it stormed back into the game 8-5. Senior pitcher Matteo Bocchi, who has made a living as a reliever that gets out of sticky situations, was given the task of finishing out the game. He excelled in his three innings of work as not only did he not allow a run to score, he didn’t even allow a hit.
Texas fed off of Bocchi’s success and pushed to tie the game in the top of the ninth inning. The team did manage to scratch one run but the Longhorns’ efforts came up just short as a two-out strikeout with bases loaded would seal the game in Louisiana-Lafayette’s favor.
The Longhorns’ overall first weekend success is something to applaud as the Cajun crowd made the environment a difficult one to win in and should build confidence for the younger players as they begin to face a tougher stretch of opponents.
Texas will play next against head coach David Pierce’s former team, the Rice University Owls, in Houston, Texas on Tuesday, Feb. 19th. First pitch is set for 7 P.M.
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