Sunday may always be the start of a new week, but this Sunday was possibly the start of a new mindset for Texas baseball.
On Sunday, Texas baseball faced off against West Virginia with hopes of not getting swept. Riding a 6-game losing streak, another loss could have been the breaking point for Texas’ hopes to make a regional tournament. The Longhorns, however, played one of their best games of the season and won 10-2 over the Mountaineers.
The game was a refreshing display of dominance, something Texas fans hadn’t seen in a while. Head coach David Pierce credited his players’ constant optimism as the hooked that pulled the out of the muck.
“It’s just a tribute to our character because nothing’s been in our favor. And we know that,” Pierce said. “But the key for us is that as ugly as we played the last couple of games, our effort and our attitude has been right.”
The team was largely lead by a freshman that Pierce said, “carried the team.” Starting pitcher freshman Ty Madden had arguably his best start of the season. The right hander went for six complete innings and allowed only one earned run on six hits.
Madden had control and velocity throughout all every inning he pitched. Though he has started five games this season, this was only the second instance of Madden throwing for more than four innings. Just recently named the new Sunday starter after taking the job from fellow freshman Coy Cobb, Madden seems to be settling into the role.
“All year I’ve had to be flexible,” Madden said. “I’ve had to start. I’ve had to close. That’s kind of what (the coaching staff) told me at the beginning of the year, that ‘Hey, you’re expected to do whatever.’ And I’ve kind of adapted to that. Hopefully I can get into a rhythm now.”
Not to be outdone by his classmate, freshman second baseman Lance Ford had the best offensive game of any player for Texas all year. Ford finished the day 3-5 with two home runs, three extra base hits and six RBI. He also flashed the leather some in the field.
It was the first time all year Texas has had a player hit multiple home runs in one game, the last coming from Kody Clemens in the 2017 Texas Regional Tournament. It was also only the second time a Longhorn has recorded six RBI in one game this season.
Ford came into Sunday’s game with no career home runs and only eight career RBI. In nine innings, he almost doubled his season RBI total and added the only two homers of his career to his season numbers.
“I don’t know where that came from,” Ford said. “I was telling the guys earlier that I only hit two home runs in high school. So I don’t really know where that came from. I just tried to stay with my approach and hit line drives up the middle and happened to get a few up.”
Another bright spot from Sunday’s game was the performance of senior reliever Matteo Bocchi. Bocchi pitched the final three innings of the game and had an almost flawless day. The performance was a welcomed sight after an blown save appearance on Friday night.
Texas will hope the cloudy days are behind them as they enter the final nine games of the season with very little room for error. Pierce said his team’s pathway team does not have much room for miscues at this point in the season.
“I’m never going to say (we have to) win out, but there’s not a lot of room for error,” Pierce said. “We have to get in the mindset of playing the game the right way and letting me worry about the big picture.”
Texas will play next on Tuesday as the team travels to Corpus Christi to face the Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi Islanders. First pitch at Whataburger Field is set for 6:35 P.M.
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