Texas avoids series sweep with 11-1 victory over LSU

Travis Hlavinka

BATON ROUGE, Louisiana — Texas’ three-game series against LSU this weekend exhibited three different versions of Texas head coach David Pierce’s Longhorn squad.

The first game was abysmal, the second a letdown and the third a triumph. Perhaps it was nerves or coincidence, but Texas’ inconsistency was apparent.

Despite falling to No. 23 LSU in their first two games of the series, the Longhorns found themselves on the right side of the scoreboard come Sunday afternoon, blowing out LSU 11-1.

The game saw an impeccable defensive performance by the Longhorns. Sophomore starting pitcher Blair Henley was impressive through six innings, keeping the Tigers off the board. Texas’ bats collected 13 hits and had multiple four-run innings. After seeing the performance of his team Sunday, Texas head coach David Pierce believed he found the reason for Texas’ rocky play in the first two games.

“The first two games we played with energy. We just thought we played with probably too much aggression and anxiety,” Pierce said. “We got tense. Things snowballed on us. We made a great commitment today to trust our skills and play the game the right way.”

Texas’ performance in the hitting department was especially impressive on Sunday. The team laced up pitch after pitch, found key walks and made use of the important at-bats. All but sophomore center fielder Duke Ellis and junior first baseman DJ Petrinksy tallied at least one hit on the day.

“I thought we swung the bats really well (over the weekend), and the best today,” Pierce said. “To see David Hamilton hit line drives to left center field, Tate Shaw doing the same thing, Duke Ellis finding ways to get on base, executing the (sacrifice) bunt, and then the power up the middle (with) Zach Zubia, who’s going to be an incredible force for our offense.”

LSU’s only run of the game came on a two-out double in the bottom of the ninth inning by LSU’s Antoine Duplantis. It was only one run, but it really struck a chord in Pierce, who wanted nothing more than to secure the shutout victory.

“It stings,” Pierce said. “Every time you’ve got a chance for a shutout and you can’t complete it, yeah it bothers us. Our pitchers and our pitching coach, Coach (Sean Allen), they have a lot of pride in that. When we have opportunities for a shutout, we want to finish the game.”

But Texas’ first two games were nothing like its final one. Friday night’s affair began and ended with ugliness, as Texas lost 13-4. The pitching staff let up double the hits the offense could muster. The defense aided the Tigers’ siege by committing three errors, which essentially gave LSU four runs.

Saturday’s game was one that really sucked the life out of the team. After leading 5-0, the Texas pitching staff and defense fell apart. Texas gave up 10 unanswered runs to fall to the Tigers, 10-5.

But Texas never lost its confidence. Instead of throwing in the towel after already losing the series and succumbing to the sweep, the Longhorns fought back Sunday and put on a show for the Texas faithful who stuck around Baton Rouge until the final pitch.

The Longhorns showed they still have a lot of work to do but gave the fans a glimpse of their talent in game three. Texas hosts UTSA at UFCU Disch-Falk Field on Tuesday night. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.