After Friday night’s loss to LSU, the Longhorns came out on Saturday with a vengeance. Their opponent, Arkansas, was the recipient of this in the first few innings.
Saturday vs. Arkansas
Texas came out on fire, putting up 8 runs in the first 3 innings against the Razorbacks. This would usually be enough to secure a win for a team, right? Well, not quite.
The Longhorns’ fiery start on offense could not be complete without Ty Madden’s solid performance on the mound. Madden made it through 4 complete innings without allowing a run, but the Razorback hitters were able to open up scoring in the 5th inning. Nonetheless, Madden finished with 6.o innings pitched, allowing 3 runs on 6 hits and 1 walk while striking out 7. This was Madden’s worse performance this season, but the Texas hitters did just enough for the team to give Madden his 3rd win.
The nervousness began to rise following Madden’s final two innings, which saw Arkansas score 3 runs. Following Madden was Cole Quintanilla, who allowed 2 runs in the 7th inning, bringing the score to 8-5. Arkansas was staging a comeback after going down 8-0 in the 2nd inning. To make matters even more precarious for Longhorn fans, closer Andre Duplantier allowed two runs in the 9th inning, an inning which he allowed 2 hits and a walk. Luckily for Texas, they were able to avoid the complete collapse, and finished the game with a 8-7 win.
The hitters for Texas were great through the first two innings, as they forced Arkansas’ starter Patrick Wicklander to be forced out after 1.0 inning of work. He finished the inning with 6 runs allowed (4 earned), 5 hits and 1 walk. The next pitcher, Denton, was only slightly better for the Razorbacks. In his 1.0 inning of work he allowed 2 runs (1 earned) and 3 hits (1 home run). Texas hitters Austin Todd and Zach Zubia did the most with their at bats early, as Todd went 2 for 5 and Zubia hit 3 for 4. Zubia had a booming home run and 3 RBIs to cap off his performance on the night. The Texas 4 through 8 hitters (Williams, Faltine, Petrinsky, Ardoin, Hodo) each had hits as well, indicating success for the bats early in the game.
Texas seemed to have Arkansas’ number, but after the second inning they only had 2 hits and 2 walks. While 8 runs is a lot, the team will look to continue to put up crooked numbers throughout the game, as comebacks are always a threat in games like these.
Arkansas was able to gain momentum once they caught up with Madden’s pitches, and built on it from there. The Razorbacks’ 3 through 5 hitters (Kjerstad, Goodheart, Opitz) were the biggest beneficiaries of getting in their groove. These three provided 3, 1 and 2 hits respectively for Arkansas and had 5 RBIs.
Luckily for Texas, Arkansas fell just short of a comeback. When asked about how the guys came out following their loss to LSU, Texas head coach David Pierce was quick to compliment his guys. “This team is a group that is playing for the right reasons. (They are) Playing for the University of Texas, but really playing for each other,” said Pierce. Pierce’s belief in his guys and their resilience, even in slightly ugly games, was showcased after Saturday’s win. Despite struggles, the team put together a win, which is what was important.
Sunday vs. Missouri
For Sunday’s game, Texas was looking to win its series against SEC opponents. With a loss to LSU and a win against Arkansas, the Longhorns had a split going up against Missouri.
Coy Cobb was the starter for Texas, and he pitched well in his 5.0 innings of work. Simply looking at the box score may lead you to think otherwise though. Cobb finished with 75 pitches, 4 strikeouts, 1 walk and 6 hits, but allowed 3 runs. There was only 1 earned run against Cobb in his 5 innings of work though. This was due to the previously-consistent defense, which was asleep in the first half of this game. The defense committed 5 errors on Sunday, which was uncharacteristic for the Longhorns.
After falling behind 3-1, Texas came back to claim the lead in the bottom of the 5th inning, going ahead 4-3. But the Longhorns were unable to maintain this lead, as they immediately allowed Missouri to extend their lead in the 6th inning. Kolby Kubichek was in to relieve Cobb in this inning, but was only in for 0.1 inning. In this time he had 12 pitches and gave up 3 hits, 1 wild pitch and 4 runs (3 earned). Kubichek was not the only one who struggled, as Tristan Stevens came in and could not log an out. Stevens faced 3 batters, and allowed 1 walk, 2 hits and 1 run in 11 pitches without logging an out. Even Donny Diaz struggled on the mound, as he allowed a run in the 9th inning, allowing 2 hits before being relieved after 0.2 innings.
These rough performances overshadowed the effective pitchers of the evening, which were Sam Walbridge, Kamron Fields and Mason Bryant. Between the 3.0 cumulative innings of work among these 3 pitchers, 0 hits and o runs were allowed. Walbridge’s 1 walk and 1 wild-pitch were the only flaws among these 3. Their performances across the board were eye opening, both for fans and the coaches.
After the game on Sunday, Pierce knew that through this performance he understood who “the guys” are for his team. “I know who our best players are. (And) Right now I know who are the most reliable guys out of the bullpen up to this point,” said Pierce when discussing what he had learned. Early season struggles are revealing for teams, especially young teams such as Texas.
Texas offense did have some success; Austin Todd finished with 3 hits, Zach Zubia had 1 hit, 1 walk and 1 HBP, and Cam Williams had 1 hit with 3 walks. These three had 1, 2 and 2 RBIs respectively. Additionally, each batter in the 1 through 8 spots had at least 1 hit, a sign of overall hitting success. But if the team is not playing great defense and they aren’t pitching well, you won’t win the game. The game transpired in this manner, as Texas lost 9-8.
An undefeated Texas team came into the weekend looking to make a statement. Instead, it provided them with a wakeup call and a learning experience. The team has a lot to work on; from how to face great pitchers through their experience against LSU, to learning how to eliminate extra outs and making good pitches during pressure situations against teams like Arkansas and Missouri.
Coach Pierce has a lot to break down after this weekend, but he also has a lot of positives to glean from. He is able to see the negatives as well, but does not want to focus on those negatives to where it will affect team mentality. “We did not get it done today, and we are going to look at it as that; as opposed to trying to dissect it to the point where it is going to affect mentality,” said Pierce. He continued on, stating, “(We) Will evaluate it and will definitely learn from it. But we are not going to beat it up so bad that it is going to affect our play on Tuesday.” Pierce is looking to build the team after these losses, which is exactly what needs to happen, focusing on Tuesday’s matchup against Arizona at Disch-Falk.
Texas will look to bounce back on Tuesday evening against the Arizona Wildcats. The game will take place at UFCU Disch-Falk Field and will start at 6:30 PM. Catch the game on Longhorn Network, listen in on 104.9 FM The Horn, or check out @Joeywa_44 on Twitter for play-by-play coverage.
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