For the second straight game, the Longhorns won a game with a starting position player taking the mound in the ninth inning.
Tuesday night’s game was a tribute to senior first baseman Jake McKenzie, but Wednesday night’s game was a sight seen before. Redshirt junior outfielder/reliever Andy McGuire was once again handed the ball to close out the game after starting the game in the outfield.
So far, McGuire’s relieving efforts have led to success with wins on April 2 against McNeese State and on Wednesday night against Texas Southern in Sugar Land, Texas. However, McGuire said this wasn’t a new task, and he seemed to easily remember his last time when questioned if this situation had occurred prior to the season.
“(I did it in) high school,” McGuire said. “Senior year. It was pretty regular.”
McGuire’s story has gone through some twists and turns since high school, though. After being recruited by Texas out of James Madison High School in Oakton, Virginia, McGuire started 22 games his freshman year in 2014, mostly at third base.
After hitting .113 over the course of that season, however, his arm was looked at as a tool that could help out the team in a different way. As a sophomore, his role on the team flip-flopped. He appeared in 13 games as a reliever without registering at bat in the 2015 season and redshirted the 2016 season.
And when David Pierce took over as head coach for a retiring Augie Garrido, McGuire just didn’t seem to fit into the puzzle. After not being a part of the team in 2017, McGuire began to contemplate a return to the sport he so dearly missed.
“Baseball’s a game that will eat you alive,” McGuire said. “And not being able to play it for so long, I think, helped clear my mind a little bit and come in with a new perspective on the game and a new respect for this game.”
Since rejoining the team this season, McGuire has rekindled that passion that he once had and found different ways to impact the team, both at the plate, in the field and on the mound. After starting the season mainly out of the bullpen, McGuire has shown himself to be one of the more reliable assets to come in for relief on the team.
He currently boasts a 2.45 ERA in 18.1 innings pitched with 12 strikeouts. Couple that with a .350 batting average, 7 RBI and a 1.000 fielding percentage in 20 games, and you have yourself a pretty potent two-way player. Pierce said his decision to let McGuire be a natural two-way player wasn’t out of necessity but out of impression.
“Andy’s been a position player since he’s been here,” Pierce said. “And every single day, his batting practice has been impressive. He’s really, really contributed.”
McGuire, who has shown a reflective mood throughout the course of the season, has talked about not being able to put this season into words on more than one occasion. His overall tone, though, seems to be gracious, given all his career has been through.
“To have the opportunity to be out here again playing is — I can’t even put it into words,” McGuire said. “It’s been a long road. But it’s so fun, and I’m having so much fun.”
Texas will play again this weekend in a three-game series against New Orleans at UFCU Disch-Falk Field in Austin. First pitch Friday night is scheduled for 7 p.m.