In Boise State University’s first NCAA baseball game in 40 years, Longhorns’ RHP Bryce Elder put on a dominant welcoming showcase Friday night.
Elder had almost everything go his way in his second start of the season. He commanded both the zone and the Boise State batters, setting the tone with 11 pitches in the first inning. Elder finished the evening with 7 innings pitched using only 106 pitches, ultimately resulting in 1 walk, 3 hits allowed and 11 strikeouts (3rd time in career).
“I felt great tonight. Command felt good in the first inning, I lost it a bit in the second inning, but I felt that my fastball was working the best today,” said Elder.
The relief pitching was also promising for the Longhorns, as 1-inning efforts from Dawson Merryman and Jared Southard contributed to the win. Merryman’s 8th inning saw him strikeout 2 batters and force a groundout with the other, all in 9 pitches. This sharply contrasted his last outing, as he showcased efficiency and consistency. Southard allowed one hit, but his velocity and command struck out the other 3 batters he faced in the 9th inning.
This dominant pitching performance is exactly what the Longhorns’ pitchers needed moving forward, as a cumulative 16-strikeout performance builds confidence.
The Texas offense in the first half of the game was steered by the 1-2-3 batters of Austin Todd, Duke Ellis and Zach Zubia. These three combined to hit 6 for 13 on the evening, while the rest of the team hit 3 for 20. This leadership from the older guys was nice, as it helped the offense early, but the younger guys in the latter half to order should begin to gain their footing as the season goes on.
Scoring broke open in the first inning with Zubia hitting a ground rule double and adding 2 RBIs to make his team-high total of RBIs 9. Ellis’ 2 for 4 display tonight added to his team-high season average, which is now at .421. He also had a quality at-bat in the 7th inning, but the SS robbed him of a line-drive base hit. Todd may have had his best game of the season, as he hit 3 for 5 with an RBI.
Two newcomers who did alright in the back half of the order were Trey Faltine and Cam Williams. Faltine had an infield single and an RBI, bringing his RBI season total to 5 (2nd on the team). Cam Williams continued to put solid contact on the baseball, as he had a 2-out RBI single to left field that scored Kennedy from second base. Additionally,
Due to the dominant pitching performances tonight, the defense was only responsible for 11 of the 27 outs. Although this meant the defense was not as busy, they did a good job making plays. Brenden Dixon had a great diving grab in the 8th inning to stop a basest in the 3-4 hole, turning it into a nice 4-3 put out. Beyond this, the defense did an effective job of keeping the baseball in front of them, as the defense allowing 0 extra-base hits.
After speaking with the Boise State media personnel, the Broncos had not practiced outside on a baseball field this spring until Thursday evening. With this and the fact that their pitching staff is dealing with injuries (#1 pitcher, an Oregon State transfer, injured), the team was bound to have some growing pains in the program’s first game in 40 years.
With that being said, the Longhorns were able to do enough with the bolstering performance of their pitching staff to get the win. One constructive criticism for the team is that they need to work on not playing down to their opponents. The although it is early in the season, DJ Petrinsky and Douglas Hodo can take this weekend to work on getting out of their offensive ruts, as they both had multiple strikeouts (DJ: 4, Hodo: 3). The team still looked collectively cohesive, which is exactly what the Longhorns need daily.
The Longhorns play Game 2 of this weekend series on Saturday afternoon, with the first pitch coming at 2 PM CST. Tune into the Longhorn Network to watch or listen in on 104.9 FM The Horn.
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