Changes, unlikely faces propel Longhorns to victory over Lamar

CJ Vogel

Texas is no longer ranked, according to the D1 baseball rankings, after losing two of three games to Kansas State — the last-place team in the Big 12.

In the first game since Texas head coach David Pierce said “changes” were coming, there are signs of a turnaround following the Longhorns’ 7-2 victory over Lamar on Tuesday night at UFCU Disch-Falk Field.

“It was a good win, a good bounce back for us,” Pierce said during his postgame press conference. “A few changes, a few things that we needed to just talk to our team about, to build some confidence. Anytime you can win a Tuesday night ballgame and get on a plane tomorrow, it’s big for us.”

The most notable of these changes was the No. 22 jersey of David Pierce occupying the third base coaches box for the first time this season.

Pierce, who had sat atop of the Longhorns’ dugout prior to Tuesday’s game, took it upon himself to get a better in-game feel and made the short jog out to third base for each inning the Longhorns came to bat.

“It’s important for people to know that there’s no demotion going on,” said Pierce regarding his move to the third base. “It’s just a change, and it allows (assistant coach) Sean (Allen) to get into the dugout and maybe talk to some of the hitters a little bit more and just communicate from that end.”

Texas got on the board in the third inning with a rally that was kick-started by an unlikely face: catcher Turner Gauntt.

Until two weeks ago, before the Texas A&M game, Gauntt was not a member of Texas Baseball. But due to lingering injuries to catchers Michael McCann and Caston Peter, depth was needed and Pierce called on the former walk-on to help supply depth to the position.

Gauntt, in his first career at bat with the Longhorns, singled to left field and later scored on a ground out to shortstop by Austin Todd in the bottom of the third inning.

The at-bat, let alone the hit, was something Gauntt never thought he would get to experience following his departure from the team at the beginning of spring practice.

“As far as I was concerned, a few weeks ago I didn’t know if I would ever get an at-bat at UT,” Gauntt said. “When I came back, my role was just to be ready, give McCann a break. (My role) was pretty vague, just trying to get ready for whatever they need, and it was pretty crazy tonight that it happened.”

Gauntt not only had a key at-bat to get the scoring started for the Longhorns, but also came up big defensively as well with a great scoop and tag on a bang-bang play at the plate to negate a Lamar run.

“I’m pretty speechless to be honest, it’s hard to put words to,” Gauntt said. “It’s one of those things I always dreamt about.”