Unusual ejection highlights rubber match victory

Travis Hlavinka

The snowball effect — a situation in which one action or event causes many other similar actions or events.

The effect was present in a huge way for the Texas offense on Sunday afternoon. With the team putting up double-digit runs in the win against Oklahoma State, the majority of the damage was done in the fourth and the seventh inning where the team scored nine of their 10 runs.

With a final score of 10-5, it’s difficult to remember Texas trailing for the entire first half of the game. During the top of the third inning, head coach David Pierce was tossed for arguing an overturned pop fly caught by sophomore third baseman Ryan Reynolds. After Pierce’s departure, junior pitcher Nolan Kingham was also tossed from the dugout for arguing the call.

Assistant coach Sean Allen, who said Pierce’s dismissal from the game was unjustified, also said all Pierce was trying to do was keep the game rolling. He added it wasn’t ethical to keep a starting pitcher standing around in the field waiting for what he said felt like 10 minutes or so.

“All (Pierce) wanted to do was keep the game going, and that’s all he said,” Allen said. “Their guy came out, it was a ground-rule question. They get together. And when they get together and leave, you’re not supposed to be able to come back out. That was the frustration on our side. It’s like, ‘Let’s go.’ And that’s all (Pierce) really did and we all know
what happened.”

At that point, Texas was in a bind, down two runs. Combine the ejections with a potent Texas offense, and there you have the snowball effect at its finest. Once the two were excused from the ball game, Texas’ offense caught fire and the pitching staff allowed only two more runs over the rest of the game.

Coincidence? Probably. But for the second time this year, Texas has won a game on the back of a Pierce ejection. Junior infielder Masen Hibbeler, however, said instances like those can play a large part in jump-starting a team.

“We were definitely fired up after that third inning,” Hibbeler said. “I said a couple weeks ago that we were really starting to come together and you could see that in the game. So that was a sense of the feel of a bond coming together and winning the game.”

Sunday’s starting pitcher, junior Chase Shugart, didn’t have the longest start of his career, only throwing three innings before giving up three runs and quickly getting replaced by freshman Bryce Elder. Elder, who threw the majority of the game for Texas in yet another solid relief appearance, is now 4–1.

“(Pitching so much early in my career) has meant a lot,” Elder said. “Coach Pierce and (Volunteer) Coach (Phil) Haig mentally have taught me how to fit in the way I do, and I appreciate that from them.”

This was Texas’ largest number of runs scored over the weekend, but not the largest margin of victory as Texas beat the Cowboys 7-1 on Saturday. Both games came on the heel of Friday night’s loss in which Texas lost an abysmal game and only managed to score one run.

The team will hope to find their way a little earlier in the weekend to try to turn some of these series wins into sweeps. They play again Tuesday in San Marcos against the Texas State Bobcats before heading to Manhattan, Kansas to face the Kansas State Wildcats.