Texas edges past South Carolina in defensive battle

Amsal Madhani

Following a shootout in its last game against Sam Houston State, runs didn’t come easy for Texas in a defensive battle with No. 12 South Carolina on Friday night. 

Both teams struggled offensively, each scoring just one run throughout the first seven innings. It wasn’t until the eighth inning that the Longhorns were able to pull away with the victory. 

Texas’ batters were finally able to wake up in the eighth as redshirt sophomore outfielder Eric Kennedy opened the inning with a leadoff triple. Redshirt junior infielder Zach Zubia was then able to double down the right-field line with two runners on, leading to two more scores for the Longhorns. 

Texas never looked back as they went on to score three runs in the eighth and retired the Gamecocks in the ninth to pick up the 4-1 victory. 

“I just liked the way we continued to play,” head coach David Pierce said. “We stayed aggressive, and the defense was outstanding.”

Redshirt freshman infielder Trey Faltine had himself a game, executing on both offense and defense. He led the Longhorns at the plate with one run on two hits, including a double that led to his lone score in the second inning. 

Faltine had a great defensive game as well, recording one put-out along with three assists, including a highlight play in the top of the sixth where he sped to mid-field, picked up the ball and assisted Zach Zubia in a groundout. 

“Trey made a couple of wonderful plays,” Pierce said. “(His plays) were much tougher than it looked that he made look easy, but he made three great plays.”

Texas’ pitching unit was led by freshman pitcher Aaron Nixon. He pitched the last two innings in which he allowed just one hit and had three strikeouts to close out the game for the Longhorns. 

“I came in there pretty amped,” Nixon said. “I just thought to myself, if I get my slider down in a way, everything will work out.” 

Pierce was delighted with Nixon’s performance as well, calling him the pitcher of the night” for the Longhorns.  

The Longhorns have flipped the switch defensively in the last few games as they’ve kept their opponents under four runs in six of their last seven games and won nine of their last 11 games. Pierce feels like if his defense continues to play the way they are, Texas can continue to win more games. 

“Our pitching and fielding have to be a constant,” Pierce said. “It was a great lesson tonight. We pitched and played defense in a 1–1 game and then when we were opportunistic, we won the game in the eighth inning and shut them down.”

Texas looks to continue to execute on the defensive end as it plays the second game of the series Saturday afternoon.