Aaron Rodgers said it best when his team seemed down and out: R-E-L-A-X. That is exactly what the Texas baseball fan base needs to do when examining the season at large.
No. 13 Texas travelled to San Antonio to face the University of Incarnate Word. The bout was ugly for the Longhorns, who mustered only four hits and pulled a freshman starter in the first inning in a 3-2 loss. Even though it feels as if Texas has played horrible baseball recently (and it has not been pretty), the team still has the opportunity to right the ship.
Starting Pitcher freshman Ty Madden only managed to record two outs in the first inning before getting pulled in favor of senior Matteo Bocchi. Madden would be charged with two earned runs. Bocchi was charged with the other, in 4.1 innings of work. The combination of sophomore Matt Whelan and freshmen Jack Neely and Kolby Kubichek would combine for the final three innings of the ballgame and allow zero runs on zero hits.
Offensively, Texas was smothered. Of the team’s four hits, freshman Lance Ford had half of them. Sophomore Zach Zubia and senior Masen Hibbeler would combine for the other half, with Hibbeler getting one of the team’s two RBI.
Texas is widely recognized as one of the top baseball teams in the country. Most publications have the Longhorns somewhere in the top-20 and others as high as the top-10. Things as of Tuesday night seem shaky. In Texas’ last 14 games, the Longhorns have scored four or fewer runs 10 times. Their record over that same stretch is 6-8.
The good news is that 12 of those previous 14 games have been against some of the nation’s premier college baseball programs in Stanford, TCU, Arkansas and Texas Tech. Two of those programs are in the top-10 the other two are in the top-20.
“We’ve played a lot of baseball,” head coach David Pierce said. “Probably more than any other team in the country in the month of March. But we came and we played the game the right way today.
To put this season in perspective, in 2018, when Texas reached the College World Series, its season record through 28 games was 16-12. In 2019, Texas’ season record through 28 games is 17-11. Both seasons featured a tough stretch where Texas played Stanford TCU and Arkansas. But 2019’s tough stretch featured Texas Tech, a tougher opponent than 2018’s Northwestern.
Also do not forget that 2018’s squad had far more talented roster that featured Kody Clemens, a healthy David Hamilton and a healthy DJ Petrinsky, a far more experienced weekend rotation, a core of extremely reliable senior relievers, a full-time first baseman, a more consistent Zach Zubia and a Masen Hibbeler, who hadn’t just had the worst slump of his career.
The only thing that 2019 has that 2018 didn’t is Austin Todd full-time. And that’s it. As bad as it seems this recent stretch has been for Texas baseball, brighter days are ahead.
Expect Texas to get some much needed rest and come out swinging as the Longhorns take on Xavier this weekend in Austin. First pitch on Friday night is set for 7 P.M.
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