The Longhorns found themselves in their first bout of adversity Sunday during their series finale against Boise State. Due to some sloppy fielding early, Texas was able to get ahead and stay ahead for most of the game.
In the 9th inning, the Longhorns’ luck caught up with them. Leadoff hitter Geon Hyoung Kim hit a 2-run home run with 2 outs to tie the game at 5-5, forcing Texas into its first extra innings of the season. Luckily for Texas, Cam Williams came through with a 2-run walkoff home run for the win.
Texas starter Coy Cobb had a solid first 5 innings, but that has continued to be a hump which he has struggled to overcome. Cobb made it through the first five innings throwing 66 pitches and allowing only 1 run, 3 hits and 1 walk with 3 strikeouts, but fell apart in the 6th inning. He hit the first batter, walked the second batter and threw 2 consecutive balls to the next batter, prompting Texas to make a change. “(Cobb) Got through 5 (innings) and that has kind of been his nemesis,” said Pierce. Cobb’s final stat line saw him throw 76 pitches through 5 innings, allow 2 earned runs, 3 hits, 2 walks, 1 HBP, and cumulate 3 strikeouts.
Tristan Stevens relieved Cobb, filling into a situational role that Texas has found him suitable for this season. Stevens defused the momentum in 10 pitches, striking out 1 and allowing Austin Todd and Zach Zubia to make great plays in the field to end the inning.
Cole Quintanilla and Donny Diaz struggled in their appearances Sunday, as both pitchers allowed critical hits leading to runs in the late innings to the game. Quintanilla got 2 quick outs in the 7th inning, but after a walk and a single to right field, allowed 1 run to score before striking out the #3 hitter Michael Hicks for Boise State. Diaz’s struggle came in the 9th inning, also after he cumulated 2 quick outs. Following a single to the pinch hitter Matthew Farman, Geon Hyoung Kim hit a two-run home run to tie the game. Diaz’s leash was short after this, and he was relieved by Mason Bryant shortly after.
Andre Duplantier, Mason Bryant and Dawson Merryman were efficient in their performances, and retired each batter they faced. Duplantier’s 8-pitch inning in the 8th and Merryman’s 14-pitch inning in the 10th were exactly what the Longhorns’ needed. Bryant came in for 1 batter in the 9th and closed that out to minimize any further damage. These critical relief roles are what Texas needs to build on as they get into tougher matchups down the stretch.
The Texas defense is becoming an important feature to the entire team dynamic. With the exception of Cam Williams’ overthrow of Zach Zubia in the 2nd inning, the defense was great today. Zubia finished with 18 put outs, which is the most for a Texas player since Tres Barrera has 20 put outs on April 3rd of 2015. Zubia is looking more and more like a natural first baseman, which is a testament to his offseason regiment. His hard work has paid off, and anybody could see it with his showcase of effort, especially with his 4 unassisted plays.
Austin Todd showed some arm strength from the outfield today, as his 9-6 force-out assist in the 6th inning was a great play in a critical time. Trey Faltine’s poise has become something impressive to watch. Him and Williams accounted for 9 assists today, which shows how well these two are working together under Tulowitzki. Williams has had some accuracy issues throwing to first, as he has overthrown Zubia twice, but when he collects himself before throwing, his throws are on the money. Moving forward I am sure Tulowitzki will continue to emphasize this poise amongst all of the defensive players. It shows a mature side of this young Texas team.
The Texas hitters found a more even distribution of hits amongst their lineup today. Douglas Hodo contributed with to the scoresheet today, as he hit 2 for 3 with 2 walks, accounting for 2 runs and 1 RBI. With Hodo’s speed, his presence as a baserunner is critical in helping the team score in close games. Eric Kennedy fed of yesterday’s home run, as he had 1 hit and 2 walks on the day. Trey Faltine continued his success at the plate with 1 hit, 1 run scored and 1 perfectly executed sacrifice bunt.
1-2-3 in the Texas lineup continued to make their marks, accounting for 4 of the 7 RBIs on Sunday. Austin Todd finished with 2 extra-base hits, 2 RBIs and scored once.
Duke Ellis tallied 0 hits, but made his impact Sunday with team ABs. Ellis finished with 1 walk, 1 HBP, and 1 sacrifice fly, accountable for his 1 RBI, a true showcase of team baseball.
Zach Zubia made an impact today with 1 RBI and 1 hit.
Despite the solid performances from the other guys, the offensive game changer had to be Cam Williams. Williams faced the adversity of extra innings like a veteran, hitting a walk-off two-run homer over left-field. This poise from Williams was that of a stone cold killer, and he responded that way after the game. “I knew what it was… as soon as it was coming in(side) I knew it was going to leave (the field),” said Williams. He also exercised the selflessness of a veteran. “I’m happy I could do it for the team. It’s all about the team. We do a lot of hard work here and helps to be able to do that for the team,” Williams stated.
Through these first 8 games, Texas has only dealt with true adversity once, in their series finale on Sunday. When asked about this, Williams believed the team was ready to respond like they did. “We are tough, we have got grit. We have got everything we want; everything we need,” said Williams. Zubia also chimed in on the team
Coach Pierce thought this weekend’s test was important for him and the coaches to see. They were able to watch the tendencies of the players and see how they react. Pierce said, “We responded without going in there and panicking. (The guys) Just stayed with the group.” Pierce was also praising the team’s mentality to grind. He stated, ‘They have been willing to go out there and put in the time and enjoy that kind of grind; it is something that they enjoy doing.”
When speaking about Williams’ impact, Pierce was quick to praise his work ethic. “He’s probably the most strenuous worker on the team. He leads the way. I saw him one day in early winter. I was looking out from the Player Development Center. It was raining, about 30 degrees, and he (Williams) was taking ground balls as if it was the first game. That tells you something,” said Pierce. This is what Texas had from Williams all weekend, as he was making his impact felt, on the offensive end and at third base.
The Longhorns now have as many series sweeps as they did in 2019 (LSU, Xavier). With this continued mentality and momentum, Texas looks to improvement on some weaker aspects of their game on Tuesday against Sam Houston State. Texas host the Sam Houston State Bearkats at UFCU Disch-Falk Field at 7:00 PM CST on Tuesday evening. You can watch the game on the Longhorn Network or listen to the action on 104.9 The Horn.
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