Texas baseball looks to recover after slump

Matt Warden

The Longhorns’ pitching staff continues to look poised for an NCAA Tournament run, but, after a 1-2 start in Big 12 play, Texas must figure out how to do more than just pitch.

Texas (15-6) was outscored 10-5 in last weekend’s series with Kansas en route to losing two of three games after winning four of its previous five games during Spring Break. Although losing the first conference series of the year is difficult, head coach Augie Garrido knows the team will stick together moving forward.

“Obviously, we lost two games, and the way we finished makes it difficult for everyone to make it very positive, but that is what this game does to you,” Garrido said. “We have won 15 games and lost six now. We have won 15 together and we have lost six together, and we continue to move on together.”

The Texas offense was outhit 22-17 in the Kansas series while posting a sub-.200 combined batting average for the three games.

Senior center fielder Mark Payton continues to lead the offense with a .417 batting average and 13 runs on the season. His team-leading 17 walks have also given opportunities to players such as junior right fielder Collin Shaw, who is second on the team with a .344 batting average, to help push runs across.

Many of the recent struggles at the plate have come from the starting Texas freshmen — a group which includes first baseman Kacy Clemens, catcher Tres Barrera, third baseman Zane Gurwitz and third baseman Andy McGuire. The group posted just four of Texas’ 17 hits in the Kansas series, with three coming from Barrera, who has raised his batting average to .197 with the effort.

The Longhorns will battle Dallas Baptist (15-4) Tuesday, a team riding a six-game winning streak into Austin. Despite weaker competition, the Patriots’ numbers appear more consistent across the board, especially on offense.

As a team, Dallas Baptist is hitting .270 with 135 runs scored in 19 games while Texas is hitting .237 with 79 runs scored in 21 games.

Pitching for both teams appears even as well, with Texas holding a combined 2.19 ERA, compared with 2.48 for the Patriots. Dallas Baptist pitchers have proven they can strikeout hitters, however, tallying 190 punch-outs to 123 for the Longhorns.

With similar numbers on paper, Texas will have to find its groove at the plate against Dallas Baptist to prove its record is no fluke.