Texas baseball offense explodes in 8-4 win to secure series sweep

Nathan Han

The Longhorn offense was relentless in Sunday’s 8-4 win over Cal State Fullerton (4–12), matching their highest run total of the year and setting a season high of 12 hits. But the story of the series sweep of the Titans was the return to form of Texas’s pitching. 

In the three games leading up to the series, Texas (13–3) allowed an average of eight runs per game. In the three games in this weekend’s series, the pitching staff bounced back and only allowed eight runs in total.

Friday, junior ace Bryce Elder pitched a workhorse-like 6 ⅔ innings, throwing 112 pitches and only allowing one run. On Saturday, after sophomore starter Ty Madden battled through illness for four innings, freshman Pete Hansen was brilliant through 3 innings to pick up the win.

“Guys are trying to figure out their roles right now,” Hansen said. “But if we just throw strikes, good things are gonna happen especially coming out of the (bull)pen. We just gotta throw strikes, and that’s what everyone’s kind of bought in on.”

On Sunday, the star on the mound was sophomore Dawson Merryman. Texas looked to be in trouble after starter Coy Cobb gave up three runs and junior reliever Tristan Stevens only pitched to three batters before exiting with a left leg injury.

“It just seemed like (Cobb) was pitching off of the plate and had really slow tempo,” Texas head coach David Pierce said. “So what we’ll do is we’ll get to work and start working — mentally first — and then make sure his delivery’s intact and that his arm is right.”

But Merryman, a junior college transfer who started at Midland College but moved to the Texas bullpen over the summer, threw a strong, no-hit four innings. 

“Dawson Merryman was the story of the day for me,” Pierce said. “He was outstanding.”

Only an error and a hit pitch by Merryman allowed runners on base, as the sophomore relied on a steady dose of his change up.

“I’ve used (the change up) a lot more than I ever had,” Merryman said. “I’ve been working on that pitch ever since I got here, so it’s starting to pay off.”

On the offensive side of the field, senior right fielder Austin Todd continued his impressive 2020 season. He was a triple shy of the cycle, hitting 3-4 with a big two-run home run in the second inning to put the Longhorns ahead 5-3. 

A number of Texas hitters went 2-4 at the plate. Freshman shortstop Trey Faltine strung together his first two multi-hit games of the season on Saturday and Sunday. Sophomore left fielder Eric Kennedy and senior center fielder Duke Ellis also joined the 2-4 club, tacking on two singles each. 

But the big name in the 2-4 category was freshman Peyton Powell, hitting in the designated hitter spot. He hit a double, then smashed a towering home run to right-center in the sixth inning. 

“The whole team had some good at-bats today,” Kennedy said. “We swung really well, had 12 hits against a quality team and some quality pitchers.”

The offense, plus a strong effort from Merryman, was enough to keep Cal State Fullerton away from the win column in Austin. Texas moves to 13–3 before the Longhorns play Abilene Christian on Wednesday.