Since the seventh in Saturday’s first game of the doubleheader, Texas has only scored in one inning. That inning, the first in Sunday’s final against the Purdue Boilermakers, played a key role in Texas securing a series victory, as the three runs scored were all it took to win. Texas beat Purdue 3-0, and though it may not have been the most exciting offensive performance, it was effective.
On Sunday, Texas won its third game of its four-game series against Purdue and brings its season record to an impressive 6-2. The Longhorns threw out sophomore Matt Whelan for his second career start on Sunday, and he met the test with flying colors.
In five innings pitch, Whelan was deadly accurate. “Dealin’” Whelan surrendered zero runs on only two hits, but maybe his most impressive statistic was that he did not walk a single batter. Whelan found success with both his high fastball and his changeup, and was a perfect matchup for the free-swinging Boilermaker lineup.
“I think Purdue does a really good job of protecting away,” head coach David Pierce said. “And I think if there’s any weakness, I think it’s up. (Whelan) has the ability to go up as well as anybody on our team. So I thought the matchup was right. He was fresh and ready.”
Pierce, however, made it known that it was Whelan’s intangibles that made gave him enough confidence to give the sophomore his second career start.
“I just trust (Whelan’s) competitiveness,” Pierce said. “I know when he goes on the mound, he’s going to give us everything he has every time out. We got every bit of that today.”
Whelan’s demeanor on the mound can be described as animated, fiery and infectious. And when he’s on his game, he’s as fun to watch as anybody you will see in the country. On Sunday, he was just that. But Whelan said that the baseball diamond isn’t the only place you will see his competitive drive on display.
“I’m kind of like that in everything I do,” Whelan said. “I’m really animated about ping pong… everything. I just think that’s how I am as a person. I think I might get it from my dad or something. But that’s just always who I’ve been.”
The three runs of the day, which were put into motion by a leadoff bunt from junior Duke Ellis and followed by another bunt from freshman two-hole Eric Kennedy, were a nice response from Texas’ rough offensive effort on Saturday night. Junior Austin Todd started the scoring off for the Longhorns with a single that plated Ellis. Senior DJ Petrinksy one-upped him with a two-run double just two batters later.
While scoring in only one of its last 18 innings isn’t an ideal scenario for Texas, Sunday’s at-bats reflected an improved approach from Saturday night’s debacle.
“Our team has a lot of pride and we were pretty upset with not scoring in the game yesterday, and the way we ended the game was so sloppy,” Pierce said. “So we came out and played really solid defense today. Not great, but solid defense.”
Pierce then went on to talk about junior Ryan Reynolds’ performance defensively at third base. Through the first eight games of the season, Reynolds has been perfect. He has made every play you expect a veteran to make, and so many others that only a handful of people in college baseball have the ability to make.
The skipper had high praise for his man at the hot corner after Sunday’s win. He even went as far as to compare him to current Washington Nationals third baseman and former top-10 MLB draft pick, Anthony Rendon. Pierce coached Rendon while an assistant at Rice University, and says that Reynolds has instincts at the same level of Rendon.
“(Reynolds) has been pretty flawless for three years,” Pierce said. “He’s been just an exceptional third baseman. He has as good of instinct as any player I have ever had that has played third base. And that includes Anthony Rendon. And I love Anthony, but he was those same type of instincts and awareness of knowing what to do with the ball even before it’s hit.”
Texas will look to carry Sunday’s momentum into its game versus Sam Houston State University. First pitch at UFCU Disch-Falk Field is set for 6:30 P.M.
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