Texas escapes with win against UTPA

Evan Berkowitz

In front of a small crowd Tuesday night at UFCU Disch-Falk Field, No. 15 Texas walked off in 11 innings against UT-Pan American behind a two-out single from senior catcher Jacob Felts, who came in as a defensive replacement in the 10th.

“I was thankful to get the opportunity,” said Felts, who, after three years of starting, has found himself on the bench. “It’s been tough waiting. [A walk off] always feels good.”

The Longhorns (6-3) were behind the whole game, struggling to get the offense rolling. It appeared that UTPA (5-4) was on its way to beating Texas for the first time since 1971 behind the arm of junior pitcher Alex Henson. Henson shut down the Texas offense, limiting the Longhorns to just two hits in six innings, including stopping hot-hitting senior outfielder Mark Payton in three at-bats.

“Their pitcher kept us off balance,” head coach Augie Garrido said. “He did a really good job, and we got into a rut of lobbing fly balls and rolling over balls.”

Entering the bottom of the ninth, Texas had only mustered two hits and trailed 1-0. But they were finally able to scratch across a run in the bottom of the ninth on three walks and a sac fly from sophomore outfielder Ben Johnson.

While the Longhorns struggled at the plate, the pitching staff kept them in the game, putting eight different pitchers on the bump.

Sophomore pitcher John Curtiss got the start for the Longhorns — the plan was for him to go just two innings. It was the first time pitching for Curtiss since May 24, 2012 after Tommy John surgery and, later, thoracic outlet syndrome surgery. Curtiss allowed just one hit in those two innings, keeping the Broncos off the board.

“It felt really good,” Curtiss said. “I feel great and the arm feels healthy.”

Freshman pitcher Josh Sawyer followed Curtiss but wasn’t quite as lucky. A single to the right and hard-luck blooper bunt single gave UTPA the first threat of the game. But, after a pop out and a caught stealing, it looked as though Sawyer may have found his way out of the inning. UTPA junior infielder Jesus Garcia had other plans, ripping a two-out pitch to center to give them the early 1-0 lead.

The six other pitchers for Texas combined for 10 shutout innings, including the final three from senior Nathan Thornhill who picked up his second win on the season.

So, despite being outhit 10-4, Texas was able to escape with the win.

“Runs determine the outcome, not hits,” Garrido said. “We played the last two innings differently than the first nine. It was about the end, and these guys got rewarded.”

Correction: This article has been corrected since its original posting. The original story mistated the type of surgery John Curtiss had. Curtiss had Tommy John surgery and later thoracic outlet syndrome surgery.