It would be an understatement to say that Wednesday’s 6-1 win over Lamar wasn’t played in the greatest of conditions. The game had everything from an early afternoon start and chill temperatures to mild rain and wet fields.
It was a reminder that baseball season is truly underway.
“People are driving down the freeway going, ‘How are they playing baseball out there? It’s nasty, and it’s drizzling,’” Texas head coach David Pierce said.
But the Longhorns didn’t let the dreary weather or early start time affect their play as they improved to 5–0 on the season.
“It’s very early,” Pierce said. “But what I like about it is we earned that 5–0. The three teams that we played didn’t really give us the ball game.”
Senior outfielder Austin Todd had the big play of the game in the second inning. With Lamar pitchers struggling and the bases loaded with no outs after three consecutive walks, the Longhorns looked poised to jump out to an early lead. But then, Lamar’s junior pitcher Jack Dallas settled down and struck out Texas infielders freshman Brenden Dixon and junior Murphy Stehly.
Todd, however, came through in the clutch with two outs and hit a double to right field to score three runs. That would be all the Texas pitching staff needed to win the game.
“That was a huge momentum swing,” Pierce said.
Sophomore pitcher Kolby Kubichek picked up the win after throwing three scoreless innings with two hits, two walks and three strikeouts. He worked his way out of two runners-in-scoring-position situations in the first and third inning.
But the right-hander, still recovering from a minor ankle sprain, needed 51 pitches to work himself out of the jams.
Enter sophomore pitcher Owen Meaney. In his season debut, the right-hander pitched three innings of no-hit ball. He picked up three strikeouts along the way and looked to be in a groove as he worked through his pitches at a fast pace.
“(Meaney) has a different demeanor,” Pierce said. “He knew that coming into the fall, he was a guy that was going to have to perform. So he did, and won a job in the late fall. He’s attacking with secondary pitches and pitching backwards. The key is that (hitters) start sitting on his change-up and then he throws his fastball.”
With Meaney on the mound, the Longhorns continued to add insurance runs. The theme of the game for the Texas lineup was patience.
Texas only had five hits all game, but six walks were a big contributor to the offense. Longhorn batters worked their way to three-ball counts 11 times the entire game, and those extended at-bats made Lamar bring in eight pitchers in total to pitch nine innings.
The Longhorns faced their biggest adversity in the seventh inning. With a seemingly comfortable 6-0 lead, Pierce opted to bring in two freshmen making their Longhorn career debuts.
Right-handed freshman Will Swope allowed the only run of the game, and left-hander Sam Walbridge was inserted to face left-handed hitter Reese Durand. He then walked Durand to load the bases and was immediately pulled for freshman Andre Duplantier II.
“Swope was a little nervous,” Pierce said. “He’ll be fine, but he didn’t look the same out there.”
But then the man with “ice in his veins,” as Pierce called him after Sunday’s win against Rice, struck out Lamar pinch-hitter Cole Secrest to get out of yet another bases-loaded jam.
The Longhorns will stay at home and try to preserve their undefeated record in a weekend series against Boise State starting Friday at 7 p.m. at UFCU Disch-Falk Field.