For two separate games played in the same afternoon, Texas looked like two very different teams against the Purdue Boilermakers.
The first game was a battle that featured a firework show from both offenses and mediocre pitching from both starting pitchers. The second game was a battle of the arms and no runs were scored by either team until the ninth inning. The lesson learned from Saturday is that baseball from one inning to the next can be very, very different. Texas, which won the first game 13-6 and lost the second 4-0, looked in control at times and overwhelmed at others.
Head coach David Pierce, who knows the struggles of playing a doubleheader between his time as a head coach and an assistant, said that taking both games is not an easy thing to do.
“I just think that, in all my years of coaching, it’s very difficult to sweep a doubleheader when you’re playing quality, Division-I schools,” Pierce said. “One team seems to drop its guard, and the other team doesn’t want to be swept. And that caught up to us today. I felt like they were the tougher team in game two.”
Over the course of the first game in Saturday’s doubleheader, Texas resembled an offensive juggernaut. The runs added up as early as the second inning when junior catcher Michael McCann smoked a three-run double to left-center field and blew the game open. Freshman Bryce Reagan one-upped McCann with his first career home run, a moonshot into the right field bullpen that made the score 5-3. Another freshman, this time outfielder Eric Kennedy, would add to the lead with a two-run homer himself.
The seven-run second inning would be the turning point in a first game that featured a less-than-stellar performance from redshirt junior starting pitcher Blair Henley. In 6.2 innings pitched, Henley would allow four earned runs on seven hits, while only striking out four.
The offense was there to back up Henley, though, as both junior outfielder Austin Todd and sophomore infielder Sam Bertelson each added a pair of RBI. The 13-run Texas victory in the was on a total of 11 hits.
Texas’ offense stalled in the second game of the day and only mustered one hit on a questionable infield hit from junior infielder Masen Hibbeler. The offense was shut out for the first time in 2019 and looked lost at the plate on multiple occasions.
The positive that emerged from the second game was freshman starting pitcher Coy Cobb’s eye-opening performance. In seven innings pitched, Cobb allowed zero runs on only four hits and looked like a potential future ace.
“I thought Coy started a little shaky, but got better as he went,” Pierce said. “He really started establishing his changeup more so and competed really well.”
Defensively, Texas failed to back up its late game relievers as an error-filled ninth inning would be the Longhorns’ downfall. Texas surrendered four runs in the final inning and was unable stage a comeback.
Bertelson racked up the first two hits in his career on Saturday. His first hit was a welcomed two-run double off the right field wall. Similar to Hibbeler on Friday night, Bertelson’s first hits of the season should take quite a bit of pressure off. Expected to be a constant contributor at either corner infield position, Bertelson plays solid defense, but was just lacking enough offensively to really play a real role in this Texas lineup.
“I just think Sam has talent, and he just has to understand that he can’t hit the high fastball,” Pierce said. “That’s what has always been his nemesis. And today he got pitches he could handle. He took some borderline pitches. But when he got pitches he could drive, he was ready for them and did so.”
Texas will look to close out its series with a victory on Sunday to complete the series win against Purdue on Sunday at Disch-Falk Field. First pitch is set for 12:30 P.M.
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