On Sunday, Texas did the unthinkable. With their backs against the wall versus the Xavier Musketeers, the Longhorns completed an unlikely sweep thanks to a walk-off double from senior outfielder Tate Shaw.
Down by one run with two outs in the bottom of ninth inning, freshman second baseman Lance Ford walked to the plate with no men on base. For the game to continue, Ford needed to reach base safely. He roped a line drive right back up the middle for his second hit of the game.
Senior catcher Michael McCann, who entered the game in the eighth inning to replace an injured Caston Peter, stepped up with the same circumstances. He drew a walk.
With the winning run aboard, Shaw stepped into the box and took the game back for Texas. Shaw was given a ball over the plate and sent it just over halfway up the wall in right-center. Had the wind not been blowing to the south, the ball would have likely been out. Shaw thought so too.
“I thought it was gone, actually,” Shaw said. “The wind… I got no juice. But I knew the game was over.”
Texas took the lead early in the game after scoring three first inning runs. But Xavier fought back and scored one run in the third and another in the sixth. Texas was also able to plate one in the seventh before Xavier tied things up in eighth and took the lead in the ninth.
The offense had struggled for most of the day. It wasn’t until the seventh inning that a player not named Duke Ellis had a hit. Texas found itself with the lead almost solely due to the 11 walks issued by Xavier’s pitchers.
“The offense looked anemic at times, actually really bad,” Head coach David Pierce said.“But what a great job from our kids. Just down to one out, nobody on base. Just never say die.”
Where the offense struggled, freshman starting pitcher Coy Cobb excelled. In seven complete innings of work, Cobb allowed only two runs (one earned) on five hits, while only walking two. Pierce said that he contemplated leaving Cobb out for the eighth but eventually ruled against doing so.
“We had a great performance by (Cobb),” Pierce said. “Outstanding job. He possibly could’ve went in in the eighth. He was at 108 (pitches) and we were set up.”
Texas’ pitching downfall yet again came at the arms of its bullpen. Freshman Mason Bryant was tasked with relieving Cobb and issued to walks in his only batters faced. Sophomore Tristan Stevens replaced Bryant and allowed a hit that would score both the runners. Sophomore Cole Quintanilla would also allow a run in 1.1 innings of work.
It was no doubt an interesting weekend for Texas baseball. Xavier was the better team for a large portion of the series. The Musketeers, however, were never able to finish a game off and lost all three by a score of 6-5, including two walk-off losses.
“We could’ve been swept and we swept,” Pierce said. “(Xavier is) really good team. They’re on of the best defensive teams that we’ve faced. They do a lot of things right and they catch everything.”
The 13th-ranked Longhorns now possess a 20-11 record and are feeling a lot more confident after a mid-week loss to Incarnate Word last Tuesday. This week, Texas will look to build off of its sweep of Xavier Tuesday as rival Texas A&M travels to Austin to face the Longhorns in a mid-week battle. First pitch on Tuesday at The Disch is set for 6:30 P.M.
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