The No. 18 ranked Texas Longhorns started out the weekend with a powerful display on Friday evening, but by Sunday afternoon, had lost their first series since late February. This weekend’s series saw the highest of highs and lowest of lows for Texas, both offensively and defensively. Texas scored 20 runs cumulatively, but also gave up 21 in the series – only 14 of them earned – in an error-riddled performance.
As dusk fell at the Dell Diamond in Round Rock, the Longhorns and Golden Bears took the field for the first game. Nathan Thornhill absolutely dominated the Cal bats on the evening, scattering five hits over a seven inning appearance in which he struck out five and walked no one. Cal starter Justin Jones was not as fortunate, throwing 82 pitches in the first 2.2 innings of the game before getting the hook. In his time on the mound, Jones gave up eight runs on eight Longhorn hits, three of the runs coming in the very first inning. Cal sent four pitchers to the mound throughout the game, and none of them were able to silence the Texas offense. Jonathan Walsh continued his hot streak with a deep home run in the eighth, after Landon Steinhagen joined the home run club with a two-run shot of his own in the fourth inning. Taylor Stell, who started the game in center field, did a superb job turning the lineup over throughout the night, amassing two hits, including a triple, and scoring three runs. Stell also showed off his speed on the basepaths, stealing two of the six bases Texas took during the game. After two innings of strong relief from freshmen pitchers Dillon Peters and John Curtiss, the score was final at 13-3. Texas had shown its power, speed, and pitching prowess and started the series with a bang.
Saturday afternoon saw a larger crowd filter through the turnstiles at Dell Diamond, but the previous game’s run production was nowhere to be found. Augie tinkered with the lineup, starting Tim Maitland in center field against Cal’s RHP, Matt Flemer, and Christian Summers at shortstop, sliding Jordan Etier to second base. The Golden Bears teed off early, collecting four hits and a Texas error before a single out was recorded. When the Longhorns came to bat in the bottom of the first, they found themselves in a 4-0 hole. While Flemer dominated the Longhorn bats, Cal tacked on runs in the third and fifth inning. Texas finally scratched a run out in the bottom of the fourth when Landon Steinhagen and Jacob Felts led off the with singles. Tim Maitland moved both runners into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt, and Brooks Marlow entered the game as a pinch hitter in place of Christian Summers. Marlow worked a 2-2 count before grounding out to the shortstop, earning an RBI when Steinhagen crossed the plate on the play. The Cal lead ballooned to 12-1 by the bottom of the eighth, when a trio of two-out singles from Erich Weiss, Jonathan Walsh, and Alex Silver brought the Longhorns their second, and final, run of the afternoon. Kirby Bellow, Justin Peters, and Austin Dicharry all saw time in relief of Parker French, with Dicharry going 3.1 innings, striking out 3, and allowing only one Golden Bear run to score. French was saddled with the first loss of his young career.
Sunday’s rubber match began at 1pm, with freshman RHP Ricky Jacquez getting the start for Texas and sophomore LHP Kyle Porter starting for Cal. Jacquez demonstrated much better control than in recent memory, issuing no walks and striking out four batters during his 3.1 innings of work. The game worked like tug-of-war, with Texas answering Cal’s runs with an equal number early, but finally faltering in the later innings of the game. The bottom third of the lineup held the power for the Longhorns on Sunday, with Jacob Felts going 2/4, Brooks Marlow going 2/3, and Tim Maitland going 3/4. Unfortunately for Texas, three batters weren’t enough, and they were eventually unable to overcome the runs scored by Cal in the fifth and sixth inning, losing 6-4 and dropping the series. Hoby Milner, who entered the game in relief and pitched 1.2 innings, was given the loss, and despite three shutdown innings from closer Corey Knebel, Texas moved to 15-11 on the season.
The point of most concern for the Longhorns was that of defense, with Texas committing eight errors in the three-game series. Pitching was not as strong as it has been in weeks prior, and the lowest ERA for a weekend starter is now Nathan Thornhill’s 3.52. Texas fans, and the team, caught a glimpse of the painful costs associated with an error-riddled defense early in the season, and we can only hope that the team takes time to learn from their costly mistakes. There will not be a midweek game this week, as Texas will be heading to Lubbock for a Thursday through Saturday series against the Red Raiders of Texas Tech.
Pictures: Donald Boyles
Cross-posted from: Texas Baseball Blog
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