On Tuesday night, Texas did exactly what it needed to do. The Lamar Cardinals, a team Texas should beat 9/10 times, made their way to Austin with hopes of knocking off a team reeling from a rough past weekend.
The Longhorns made sure it didn’t happen. Both the Texas offense and the Texas pitching staff put on stellar performances and pulled out a 7-2 win. The game featured some not-so-familiar faces in the starting lineup and a pitcher who could make his way back to a full-time starting role.
- Matteo Bocchi is destined to be a mid-week or possibly Sunday starter
Texas has struggled to find quality starting pitching on Sundays and during mid-week games. Whether it be freshmen Ty Madden, Kolby Kubichek, Jack Neely, Owen Meaney, Coy Cobb or sophomore Matt Whelan, there has not been someone that has separated themselves from the field.
Senior Matteo Bocchi may have changed that with his outing on Tuesday. As Texas’ starter, Bocchi went for five innings and allowed only three hits. He also didn’t allow an earned run or walk a batter.
The Italian-born right-hander was a substantial part of Texas’ success in 2018. He was a common face to see on the mound and started four games. But after his offseason development did not meet expectations, he was moved into the back end of the bullpen.
To get back onto the field, Bocchi knew he had to make some adjustments to his game. His first response was changing his arm slot down. A usual high three-quarter thrower, he has worked to change his delivery to to become a side-arm pitcher. The results have been encouraging.
Over his past two appearances, Bocchi combined for eight innings and did not allow an earned run or a walk. He also struck out six.
“I thought (Bocchi) did a great job tonight,” head coach David Pierce said. “Bocchi’s got some experience. He pitched in a Super Regional. And he pitched like that against a pretty good hitting team.”
2. Catchers keep coming out of the woodwork
Senior catcher Michael McCann got some much needed rest with freshman Turner Gauntt filling his shoes behind the plate. Gauntt has only been on the team a short while and was a surprise addition after the coaching staff filed a waiver mid-season in order to make him eligible.
Gaunt was cut from the team shortly before the season began and didn’t think he was ever going to play baseball in a Longhorn uniform. But after senior first-string catcher DJ Petrinsky went down for the year with Labrum surgery and third-string catcher freshman Caston Peter busted his finger and required surgery, Pierce and staff were looking at an empty cupboard at the catcher position.
Tuesday night was Gauntt’s first start and first plate appearance. He made the best of both. Not only was he solid behind the plate catching, he made a phenomenal pick on a throw that came from the outfield that held onto the shutout for another inning. He went 1-2 at the plate and had his first single in his first at-bat. He later went onto score.
“As far as I was concerned a few weeks ago, I didn’t think I would ever get an at-bat at UT,” Gauntt said. “I’m kind of speechless.”
3. Pierce is the new third base coach
In a surprise to everyone, Pierce was the third base coach for the first time in his tenure at Texas. He said he made the change to keep usual third base coach Sean Allen in the dugout to talk to hitters, as well as to keep him from bickering with his players.
“I thought it was good for me to get out of the dugout and have some personality,” Pierce said.
Pierce said he will the third base coach going forward.
Texas will return to action Thursday as they travel to Stillwater, Okla. to face the Oklahoma State Cowboys in a three-game series. First pitch at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium is set for 7 P.M.
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