The Longhorns squeaked out their third straight win Tuesday night after holding off outs in crucial moments at bat.
Texas racked up five hits in 12 two-out at-bats and scored its first three runs with two outs in a 4-2 victory over Central Arkansas (16-21, 10-11)Tuesday at UFCU Disch-Falk Field. The No. 20 Longhorns (24-14, 11-4) were tied at 2-2 at the seventh inning stretch before freshman Taylor Stell drove in sophomore right fielder Mark Payton, who tripled the previous plate appearance with an RBI single — all with two outs.
“The two-out hits were the difference in the game today,” said Stell, who was 1-for-3 that night. “The previous two at-bats hadn’t really worked out well, but I was seeing the ball good. I just tried to square it up and hope that it would find a hole.”
After a throwing error by shortstop Jordan Etier, the first of three that day by the senior, the Bears drew first blood in the top of the fourth inning, but Texas got the run back in the home half of the frame. Sophomore first baseman Alex Silver, sophomore catcher Jacob Felts and freshman second baseman Brooks Marlow all singled with two outs in the fourth inning as Silver scored to tie the game at 1-1.
“When you get two quick outs, you still have a third of your life left,” Silver said. “If someone gets a hit in front of you, it kind of clicks in your mind that it’s not that hard. If everyone’s hitting, it helps the next person in line.”
The Longhorns were at it again in the next inning as sophomore third baseman Erich Weiss hit into a potential inning-ending double play. But Central Arkansas sophomore shortstop Kraig Kelley made a throwing error of his own after Stell was forced out of second base, allowing senior center fielder Tim Maitland to give Texas its first lead of the contest at 2-1. “To get the runs that they need, in the way they got them, when they got them does show the right spirit,” said Longhorns head coach Augie Garrido. “They weren’t doing that before. They couldn’t get out of that rut.”
A bizarre sixth inning ensued as freshman John Curtiss allowed an RBI single to the first batter he faced after replacing sophomore Kirby Bellow on the mound. Etier’s second throwing error erased any chances of Texas turning a double play to end the threat, loading the bases with one out. Felts’ pickoff attempt at third base skipped by Weiss into left field as the Bears appeared to regain the lead, 3-2.
But home plate umpire Branden Padgett called interference on the Central Arkansas batter, junior third baseman Garrett Brown, who was called out. Curtiss struck out the next hitter to end the inning, eventually earning his second win of the season after Payton’s and Stell’s heroics in the following frame.
Texas also got a good effort on the mound from freshman Dillon Peters, who allowed two runs in just one inning of work against Kansas on Sunday. Peters did not allow an earned run, surrendering two hits, in 3.2 innings, his longest career outing. Sophomore closer Corey Knebel, two days after picking up a seven-out save, pitched two scoreless innings to get his eighth save of the season.
Stell, who was hit by a pitch while squaring around to bunt in the fifth inning, suffered an injury to his meniscus, said Garrido after the game. After a single in his final at-bat in the seventh inning, Stell, who served as the designated hitter Tuesday night, was replaced by pinch-runner Christian Summers. Garrido will have a better idea as to the extent of Stell’s injury following an MRI, although Stell insists he will play this weekend against Texas A&M.
“It’s hurting a little bit,” Stell admitted. “But I’ll be playing. If I’m in the lineup, I’ll be playing. I’ll just deal with it and figure it out after the season.”
Printed on Wednesday, April 25, 2012 as: Longhorns capitalize on two-out hits