The second day of the State Farm College Baseball Showdown brought the exact same offensive struggles for No. 9 Texas as the Longhorns fell to No. 8 Arkansas 4-0.
Texas managed only two hits and struck out a whopping 15 times as Arkansas sophomore pitcher Peyton Pallette exerted his will on the mound. The offensive ineptitude in the first two contests of the season is part of the learning process for a team that did not practice for much of the past week due to a winter storm, head coach David Pierce said.
“We’re just gonna have to understand that every single day, we have to try to get better because we’re 0–2 right now,” Pierce said. “I’m not concerned with the record as much as I feel like we need to improve our quality approach at bat, more so the record.”
Redshirt junior pitcher Tristan Stevens, who normally comes on in relief for Texas, got his first start of the season. Stevens pitched just over five innings and only gave up one run, which came in the fourth inning and gave the Razorbacks a 1-0 lead.
While many were surprised to see Stevens get the starting nod, the redshirt junior said he had been working for the start in preseason.
“It’s something I prepared for all fall,” Stevens said. “I got the opportunity, and I took advantage of it … I know the outcome didn’t go the way we wanted it to, but it felt good.”
Texas had an opportunity to put points on the board early in the third inning when the bases were loaded with only one out. Redshirt sophomore outfielder Eric Kennedy and redshirt senior outfielder Mike Antico both failed to bring home a runner.
“I don’t feel like our bats have been very quality,” Pierce said. “There’s always a concern hitting, and scoring kind of comes and goes, but (the) approach has to be better.”
The Longhorns again failed to capitalize in the fifth inning when redshirt senior outfielder Austin Todd beat the throw to first base on a fielder’s choice, advancing a runner to third. With one out and runners on the first and third base, Kennedy lined out into a double play, leaving two runners stranded and ending the inning.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, the Razorbacks took advantage of Texas’ earlier missed opportunities when Arkansas junior infielder Brady Slavens hit a three-run homer to extend Arkansas’s lead to 4-0.
“They got a couple of clutch hits, and we didn’t. That’s kind of the way that the game went,” Pierce said.
While the offense showed next to no life on Sunday night, the Longhorns saw some promise from a revamped pitching rotation. Tanner Witt, freshman pitcher and infielder, made his Longhorn debut on the mound, striking out five batters in under two innings of work.
“We know he’s got good stuff. We want to get him out there,” Pierce said. “The kid is gonna be great for us … He’s got mound presence, and you’ll probably see him hit some too.”
With a game Monday afternoon against No. 6 Ole Miss, Pierce has faith that his team can bounce back with better offensive production.
“I still have confidence in what we’re doing. I have confidence in our kids,” Pierce said. “We played two games, and they’re going to learn from it, and we’ll get better.”