Saturday’s matchup between the Longhorns and Boise State showcased a battle of pitchers.
Texas’ starter Ty Madden, coming off a shutout performance last weekend, was looking to repeat his dominance against the Broncos. He was ready for the occasion, as he allowed just 1 run and 2 hits in his 102-pitch complete game. This complete game was the first CG for Texas since May 4th of 2019 (Blair Henley against Kansas). When asked about how his pitches were working, Madden shared that, “Fastball command was not that great in the beginning, and I left some balls over the plate. Then I knew that (Boise State) started sitting fastball, so in about the 3rd or 4th inning I started mixing it up.” This dominant win by Madden brings his record to 2-0 and finds his ERA sitting at 1.00.
Boise State’s starter was also impressive. RHP Mitch Lines allowed 1 run, 2 hits and 1 walk in the first inning, but was nearly perfect from that point on. With Boise State’s 75-pitch limit on their pitchers this weekend, Lines was limited to 5 innings of work (73 pitches). He did the most with those innings, tallying 7 strikeouts and allowing a total of 3 hits, 1 walk and 1 run.
When asked about the Longhorns’ pitching performance after the game, Coach Pierce stated the team had, “Great pitching and defense, and when we do that we have got a chance to win every game.”
Ty Madden’s 7 strikeouts through 9 innings meant that the defense was pretty busy Saturday afternoon. One of the busiest infielders was Cam Williams, who was a brick wall at third base. He accounted for 6 assists today, showcasing his skillset of covering ground, throwing on the run and overall arm strength. Williams has settled in nicely at third base, and is a nice compliment to Trey Faltine at shortstop. Faltine had another great day defensively, which is seeming like more and more of a normal feat for him. He account for 3 put outs and 2 assists on the day. Eric Kennedy was another impact player, as he made three solid catches in one inning to prevent Boise State from getting any momentum.
The Texas defense is clearly one of their strengths, therefore the pitchers will have comfort knowing they can rely on the other 8 positions to make plays for them as long as they put the ball in play.
Offensively, the Longhorns’ struggle continued. Friday night’s performance was slightly misleading as walks allowed by Boise State gave Texas more chances to score. The pitching on Saturday for Boise State was much more competitive though, and the offense had a hard time capitalizing on runners in scoring position.
The 1-2-3 hitters of Austin Todd, Duke Ellis and Zach Zubia accounted for 5 of the team’s 8 hits. Although Texas has scored in the 1st inning in 6 of their first 7 games, it is largely due to Todd, Ellis and Zubia. When asked about the hitting struggles against Boise State’s pitching, Coach Pierce was a bit vexed. “It gets frustrating when you see that because you only think that velocity guys can do that to you,” said Pierce. The team’s 8 hits only translated into 2 runs, an indication of the struggle Texas is having at the plate. There were a few notable performances from the bottom 6 of the order though.
An unlikely clutch player Saturday afternoon was Eric Kennedy, who hit a go-ahead home-run in the 7th inning, his first of the season. This was important for the game script, as it gave the Longhorns the 2-1 lead, but also for Kennedy’s confidence.
Another offensive impact player was Trey Faltine, who got on base 3 of his 4 at bats. His plate discipline an asset for the Longhorns, as he puts himself in more offensive situations where he can score. Although he did not score today, Faltine is putting himself in the position to help the team in any game.
DH Peyton Powell had a solid performance Saturday, as he hit a deep line-drive to the left-centerfield gap for a double. This was clearly what Pierce was referring to when he said that Powell was beginning to look like the guy Pierce thought he was. Last Thursday Pierce stated that Powell, “Has really started to look like the guy we thought he was. He has a good swing and eye, but now he is getting some confidence in there.” Powell’s improvements were put on display Saturday afternoon, and I am sure he will get more opportunities now to prove himself moving forward.
The Texas offense is probably the weakest part of the team thus far this season, but also showcases potential. If the offense can get some more consistency from the middle and end of the order, they will be able to make teams suffer.
Andre Robertson and BHM
On a day that honored Andre Robertson, the first African American to play baseball at he University of Texas, as a part of Black History Month, Coach Pierce was asked about impact of having five black athletes on the baseball team now. “We’re very proud of our diversity right now; we have the most diversity in the history of the University of Texas baseball and the most diversity in Big 12 baseball. I have never looked at color when we recruit, (and) I love the fact that we have so many kids coming together and the type of society that we live in right now,” said Pierce. He continued, stating that, “We have different personalities that are really meshing together, (and it) reminds me a little bit of Tulane, when we represented so many states. Now we are having it with diversity and it’s really cool.”
Having five young black baseball players on this team is important and overall great for both Texas and baseball. If you want to hear more about Andre Robertson, check out the conversation between Robertson and Junior Kameron Fields on the Longhorn Network.
Texas will face off against Boise State for the series finale on Sunday, with first pitch at 12:30 PM CST. Tune into the Longhorn Network to watch the game or listen in on 104.9 FM The Horn.
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