No. 8 Texas baseball drops midweek matchup against Texas A&M, 12-9, as inconsistent pitching continues

Jordan Mitchell, Senior Sports Reporter

No. 8 Texas made a fruitless attempt to find a pitching groove Tuesday in its 12-9 loss to historic rival Texas A&M.

In redshirt sophomore Justin Eckhardt’s third start on the mound this season, the right-hander allowed four runs in his three innings pitched, including a home run and a double.

His performance on Tuesday night at UFCU Disch-Falk Field was inverted from his start last week against Central Arkansas, where Eckhardt commanded the zone, striking out seven and allowing no runs.

Eckhardt is one of many inconsistent pitchers who have struggled in the wake of sophomore Sunday starter Tanner Witt’s season-ending elbow injury, which explains why head coach David Pierce used six pitchers on Tuesday.

“We have to continue to search for the reliable consistency,” Pierce said. “We’re not looking for a guy that’s gonna go out there and blow it up every time but just repeat your best pitch.” 

Pierce believes the inconsistency is largely due to lack of confidence on the mound.

“I think it’s all in their head,” Pierce said. “I think they just have to relax and get out of their head.”

Pierce addressed mindset concerns in the pitching staff midgame against the Aggies. Despite redshirt sophomore Jared Southard allowing Texas’ second grand slam in three games, Pierce refused to pull the right-hander from the mound.

“I went out and I said (to Southard,) ‘I’m not taking you out, you’re gonna pitch through this,’” Pierce said. “It was his job to go out and get three outs, or he was gonna rot on the mound.”

While Texas struggles to command the strike zone, the Longhorn offense is molding into shape. Despite beginning the season in a batting slump, sophomore Mitchell Daly drastically improved his at-bats, going 2-3 with a pair of runs against the Aggies.

“We all know that Mitch Daly could hit, but he started so slow,” Pierce said. “He’s had some mental struggles of just getting a couple of hits, having a good night and building off of that.”

Another bright spot on the Texas offense Tuesday was redshirt sophomore Trey Faltine, who hit two home runs against A&M to increase his season total to the double digits at 10. Faltine hit five home runs total in the 2021 season.

“I would rather battle through the beginning of the season so that later in the season, we will be ready and have gone through everything,” Faltine said. “We grow from it, learn from it.”

This weekend, Texas baseball travels to Arlington to take on Big 12 rival Oklahoma at Globe Life Field.