Gifts are great. Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries and weddings are all prime opportunities to give someone a gift — unless you’re Purdue, in which free bases and scoring opportunities are given out on a random Friday night in February like an everything-must-go sale at a bankrupt electronic store.
The No. 23 Longhorns won their 2019 home opener over the Purdue Boilermakers, 7-2, in large part due to the opportunities presented to them on a silver platter.
From the get-go, Purdue began handing out free bases to Longhorn hitters with walks to left fielder Eric Kennedy, right fielder Austin Todd and designated hitter DJ Petrinsky in the first inning. And with two outs and the bases juiced, third baseman Ryan Reynolds hit a sharp single-to-left field to bring home two runners and get the scoring started for the Longhorns.
Four innings later, a two-out walk to Reynolds was followed up by three straight singles and another run. One inning later, Texas was gifted a two-base error by Purdue’s center fielder on a line drive by Kennedy to begin the inning. Kennedy would eventually come around to score on a sacrifice fly by designated hitter Zach Zubia.
Texas racked up 10 walks tonight, something head coach David Pierce is very much a fan of.
“Just quality and grinding out at bats, even when you get to two strikes,” Pierce said. “Those are quality (at bats) and we will take those just as well as the singles because we are seeing the ball well when we are taking our base on balls.”
The game broke open in the bottom of the seventh inning thanks to a leadoff walk by second baseman Masen Hibbeler. Two wild pitches later, Hibbeler returned home to increase the lead to 5-1. Two walks and a triple later, and the Longhorns gained a commanding 7-1 lead.
Six of Texas’ seven runs of the evening came via a walk, with the other coming from an error. Finding ways to take advantage of opposing team’s mistakes is something Texas is really starting to hone in on at the plate.
“We have a lot of good bats in our lineup, and the more guys we get on base, the better off we are going to be,” freshman shortstop Bryce Reagan said. “Our whole lineup fights at the plate and nobody is an easy out so we’re going to be a tough team to beat.”
Texas’ approach at the plate is a result of the team being confident there, which has been noticeable with the Longhorns scoring 18 runs in their last two games.
“Coach Pierce says it all the time — score in multiple ways,” Reynolds said. “Whether it’s a walk, hit by pitch, home run, double or piecing back to back hits, you have to take advantage of any opportunity given.”
With its victory tonight, Texas improves to 4–1 on the season and will have the opportunity for two more wins Saturday with a doubleheader against Purdue at UFCU Disch-Falk Field with first pitch at 1:30 p.m.