It’s normally not a great sign for the loudest cheers of the game to come during a free t-shirt giveaway in the middle of the fifth inning.
But that was exactly the case for the first eight innings of play in Texas’ 4-3 victory over UT-Rio Grande Valley on Tuesday night.
The 200 or so fans in the lower section of UFCU Disch-Falk Field abandoned their blankets and portable heaters to leap across rows of seats for just one more layer of warmth the free t-shirts would provide. After all, the temperature at first pitch was 44 degrees, and a strong southern wind coming in from center field did not let up for the duration of the game.
Heading into the eighth inning, the Longhorns collected just one run, and although the weather wasn’t below the freezing point, the Longhorn bats were ice cold.
“As a team, we kind of had nothing really going for us in the beginning (of the game),” right fielder Austin Todd said. “It was pretty frustrating to honestly be out there and to watch it, but you just gotta keep playing the game and good things will happen.”
And good things happened, indeed. Todd, the reigning Big 12 Player of the Week, singled with the bases loaded in the eighth inning to the tie the game. One batter later, the Longhorns took their first lead of the game with a sacrifice fly by a pinch-hitting Tate Shaw.
A clutch, late-inning base hit by Todd is nothing new after hitting the walk-off single on Sunday to complete the three-game sweep of then-No. 2 LSU.
“I love (the pressure),” Todd said. “Obviously, I would love to win the game a little sooner as a team … but if it comes down to me, I’m just going to keep on sticking with my approach and seeing the ball well.”
The late-inning comeback victory was Texas’ second straight of its kind — something head coach David Pierce will take but isn’t necessarily thrilled with.
“Well, we weren’t very sharp, but you know what? We found a way to win the game,” Pierce said. “We’ll take (the win) and move on.”
The Texas pitching staff did a very good job of silencing a Vaqueros lineup which had averaged nine runs per game over their last five outings.
Aside from four wild pitches, pitchers Matt Whelan, Kamron Fields, Kolby Kubichek, Tristan Stevens and Cole Quintanilla combined for seven strikeouts and just five hits, none of which went for extra bases.
While the forecast in Palo Alto this weekend isn’t expected to be the stereotypical warm, sunny California weather, Pierce is more than excited to leave the frigid Austin weather behind.
“Of course, we are (excited to play in warm weather). I’ve got four layers on right now,” Pierce said after the win.