Longhorns bounce back from Sunday loss, defeat Incarnate Word 5-3

Vicente Montalvo

In the top of the eighth inning with runners on third and first, head coach David Pierce made his way to the mound to calm the nerves of freshman pitcher Tanner Witt. The only way the Longhorns were going to get out of this situation with victory was if their bullpen held up.

At first, it seemed as if the talk did nothing for Witt as he threw two quick balls, having trouble finding the strike zone. He took some time with the next pitch, jamming the batter inside and allowing redshirt junior infielder Cam Williams to cleanly throw the runner out to escape the inning without a run.

After having their 16-game win streak come to an end this past Sunday, the Longhorns snuck past the University of the Incarnate Word 5-3 in their return home. The Longhorns have had a few unusual days.

“Two on Saturday and one on Sunday,” Pierce said. “Then a seven-hour bus ride. I felt we were fatigued; we looked fatigued.”

In an all-around gutsy performance, the Longhorns relied on their bullpen to keep the Cardinal batters at bay after their starting pitcher got into some trouble early on.

“It was one of those games that we just had to fight through,” Pierce said. “We did a nice job of just figuring out how to win the game tonight.”

Redshirt freshman pitcher Justin Eckhardt got the start for the Longhorns, but he struggled to get outs early. Pierce decided to turn the contest into a bullpen game in the second inning after Eckhardt conceded three early runs.

“We didn’t have our best start,” Pierce said. “We have to figure out Eck(hardt).”

From that point on, Texas relied on four other pitchers to capture the victory. Redshirt sophomore pitcher Drew Shifflet didn’t only have his longest career outing, but also the longest of the night. He went 3.2 innings while only giving up three hits.

“Drew Shifflet was really good today,” Pierce said. “We’ve seen really short outings, but today was a big step. When the game was close, he did a nice job of not only keeping us in the game but not allowing them to score anything.”

Witt did not only face an uncomfortable situation in the seventh inning but was thrown into the spotlight right out of the bullpen. With two outs and a runner in scoring position on second base, he showed off his arsenal of pitches to strike the batter out.

“You never know with this group who is going to come through,” Pierce said.

After their win streak came to an end over the weekend, Pierce said he just wants the team to continue to play and not get caught up in the past.

“Just continue to do what’s got you here,” Pierce said. “Let’s start a new (win streak) and just continue to play baseball.”