It may seem crazy, but Texas going into the ninth inning with a lead has turned into a bad thing. Over its past three games, Texas has held a lead going into the final inning of play and each of those times has given it away.
On Saturday afternoon against West Virginia, Texas did just that as it held a 1-run lead going into the ninth inning but gave up two runs that they were unable to match in the final half-inning of play. The result was a 9-8 loss.
The team now finds itself on a 6-game losing streak, the longest of head coach David Pierce’s tenure. The skid marks the lowest point in the Pierce era as Texas now has a 24-21 season record as well as conference record of 5-11, the lowest in the Big 12.
At this point, the team is on the outside looking in when it comes to postseason play, something that was unthinkable just a few short weeks ago. The losses are starting to add up, but it’s not so much the losses themselves, but the way they’ve come about that has really demoralized this team.
“This is about us, it’s not about West Virginia,” Pierce said. “I thought we handed them the ballgame. I’m really proud of our offense and really proud of our fight. But at this point, we’re just not a very good team right now.”
Most of the game was back-and-forth. Texas scratched a run in the first inning before giving back the lead in the third. The Longhorns would tie the game in the fifth, give the lead back up in the sixth, take it back with a 3-run seventh and eventually lose it and the game in the ninth.
Overall, the 8-run performance was an encouraging sign for a team that scored only twice on Friday night. The top of Texas’ order especially excelled on Saturday. Texas first five batters combined for 11 of the team’s 12 hits and six RBI. The team’s two largest contributors were senior shortstop Masen Hibbeler and redshirt sophomore Zach Zubia. Each tallied three hits and home run.
“I think we look back at the games this weekend as far as one or two things here or there that are game changers,” Zubia said. “If you change those one or two things, the outcome is totally different.
The two fell flat in the field, however. The pair combined for three errors, each on a ball hit to Hibbeler and thrown to Zubia. The errors resulted in multiple runs scored for WVU.
Redshirt junior starter Blair Henley was on the receiving end of each of those errors. Henley’s final stat like was 5.1 innings pitched, six hits allowed and six runs allowed, of which only one was earned.
Texas may have given up the series, but a win on Saturday could go a long, long way towards restoring hope in this season.
“You just got to keep showing up every day and realize baseball is a game of failure,” Zubia said. “For our guys I think it’s a simple as showing up tomorrow. The sun’s going to come up. Tomorrow is a big one.”
Texas will play the final game of its series versus West Virginia on Sunday at UFCU Disch-Falk Field. First pitch is set for 12 P.M.
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