Following the team’s first under-.500 weekend, the Longhorns looked to bounce back against the 7-4 Arizona Wildcats.
The Longhorns’ starter Owen Meaney came in looking to build on his 3.0 perfect innings pitched earlier this season. Unfortunately he did not have the same success, lasting for 0.1 inning after 22 pitches (10 strikes, 12 balls). In this time he walked 1 batter, hit 2 batters, and allowed 1 hit for a total of 1 run allowed.
Cole Quintanilla came in to relieve Meaney, successfully holding the Wildcats to 1 run in the 1st inning (23 LOB). His form did not continue though, as he allowed 2 walks and a 3-run home run in the 2nd inning. The Longhorns’ pitching struggles did not end there, as the next reliever, Jared Southard, allowed 2 runs on 0 hits, 1 walk and 2 HBPs. Kamron Fields, coming off a great performance, struggled as well, allowing 2 runs in 1 inning of work on 1 hit, 1 walk and 1 wild pitch.
These pitching struggles only moved the game through 4 innings but accumulated 118 pitches. At this point Texas had fallen behind 8-0, but only allowed 3 hits. This became a game where Pierce wanted to see some of his pitchers work, which saw Sam Walbridge, Dawson Merryman, Austin Wallace, Tristan Stevens and Pete Hansen make appearances.
The most efficient of these was Hansen, who threw for 1.2 innings, striking out 2 batters and throwing only 17 pitches. Hansen, who has been solid thus far for the Longhorns, is someone who is thought to be a potential rotation guy down the line. When asked about his work Tuesday night, Pierce said “We didn’t start him for the simple fact that (a possible rotation mix this weekend) is what we are considering, and we know we may throw him in a short outing. He wasn’t going to pitch until we made it close ballgame. So (we) kept him in there to give us a chance in the 8th or 9th.” With Hansen giving Texas a chance to stay close and compete, he is looking like a likely contributor this weekend against Fullerton.
Offensively, the Longhorns battled back, taking after Arkansas’ performance Saturday. “I credit our offense for continuing to play,” said Coach Pierce about the batters continuing to compete. Following an 8-run deficit, Texas began to add runs in the bottom of the 4th inning, as Eric Kennedy’s single to center-field scored Cam Williams and Zach Zubia. The team added 4 more runs to their total in the 7th inning with a Cam Williams 2-run RBI single and an Eric Kennedy 2-run RBI single. Unfortunately for the Longhorns, they could not do much after this point. Texas finished the game with 8 runners left on base, which would have helped them in their efforts to complete the comeback.
The clear offensive impact player was Eric Kennedy, who finished the day batting 3 for 4 with 4 RBIs. His recent surge of success has been a light in the midst of the team’s rough stretch. If he is able to continue hitting this well, he will work his way up the lineup to make an impact during both midweek games and weekend series’, which will be especially important as the team heads into conference play.
The Longhorns struggled on the mound early Tuesday, and it showed. While it was nice to see the offense not fold and concede the game by making it close in the end, Texas’ pitchers need to work to prevent walks and free-90’s given away. Texas allowed 8 walks and 4 HBPs, which is the main thing issue need to address. This resulted in Arizona ending with 8 runs on 4 hits. This is an eye-opening feat for this team, and they need to work on getting through innings making opponents earn their base-runners.
Texas opens their home series weekend against Cal. State Fullerton on Friday at 6:30 PM, and the game will be televised on the Longhorn Network. You can listen to the game by tuning into 104.9 FM The Horn, or you can follow along with play-by-play by following @joeywa_44 on twitter.
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