Texas suffered their first loss of the season Friday night against LSU in what was a well-matched meeting. The 39th matchup between these two teams showcased two programs that have relied on pitching this season, but each had situational hitting that kept the game close.
The Longhorns’ RHP Bryce Elder had a solid outing, but felt that two pitches cost him this game. “I battled but it came down to two pitches. You have got to make pitches, and I did not,” said Elder when discussing how the game went. “I thought he was out, but stuff happens. I try to go into games, innings and pitches and control exactly what I can. But the only thing I can control is when the ball is in my hands,” Bryce continued. The two pitches which cost him were the 2nd-inning hanging breaking ball and a 6th-inning hanging slider, which resulted in 3 of the 4 runs for LSU.
The Tigers’ 2nd run of the game did not come without controversy though. After retiring two batters on 6-straight sliders, Elder threw a 7th slider, which was a chopper to Trey Faltine. Faltine fielded the baseball and made a great play to get the out at first, preventing the runner at third base from scoring. A coaches challenge sent this replay upstairs, which is different from the usual umpire’s review that Texas has experienced this season. This MLB-style of review overturned the call, resulting in the second-run for LSU.
When asked about his thoughts on the decision, head coach David Pierce was disappointed. “It made no sense to overturn it, it made no sense at all. So it was a really poor use of the replay,” Pierce concluded.
The overturned call served as fuel for Texas though, as the team responded in the top of the 3rd inning with 2 runs to tie the game. DJ Petrinsky provided run support first with his first home-run the season. Next, Douglas Hodo forced a 6-pitch walk, Austin Todd hit a single, and Duke Ellis forced an 11-pitch walk. But Texas could only convert 1 run from this, via Zach Zubia’s sacrifice fly. Texas left 2 runners on base in the top of the 3rd, which was half of the team’s 4 LOB.
Texas also scored again in the 4th inning, as Faltine’s HBP resulted in a run. An Eric Kennedy bunt forced an error, moving Faltine to 3B and Kennedy to 2B. Petrinsky followed these ABs up by providing a sacrifice fly that scored Faltine and moved Kennedy to 3B, but that was all that Texas produced. Another runner was left on base in scoring position, which could have been helpful as the Longhorns’ offense struggled.
The Tigers’ lead came in the 6th inning, following Elder’s dominance in the 3rd through 5th innings. After an error by Elder on a chopper hit back to him, LSU’s Daniel Cabrera took advantage of a high slider, sending it over the right field fence.
Texas conceded a lot of strikeouts Friday evening. Cole Henry struck out 10 Texas batters in 6 innings, while reliever Jaden Hill had 6 strikeouts in 3 innings. This pitching dominance by LSU was a showcase of their talent, but also a reminder that the Longhorns are young. The youth will continue to learn as it faces better competition, from batters’ approaches to capitalizing on RISP. When ask if he was disappointed in his guys’ at-bats, Coach Pierce was reminded about the youth on his team. “You got some really young guys going up against really good stuff. You are always disappointed because you (have) got to find a way,” said Pierce. The LSU pitching was still impressive, especially Hill, whose fastball reached 98 MPH and had a well located slider. It was an eye opener for Texas to face some of the best pitchers in the country this early in the season, and it will only benefit them moving forward.
Despite the loss, the Longhorns have the right mindset headed into their Saturday evening matchup against Arkansas. “I think they are ticked off, and I hope they are. (But) They have got that right mentality; they have got that passion. They will be ready to go tomorrow,” said Pierce.
Texas will look to bounce back against Arkansas at 7 PM on Saturday evening. You can watch the game on AT&T SportsNet, or tune into any of the Astros streaming networks.
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