Despite bullpen, infield heroics, No. 7 Texas falls to No. 23 TCU 7-5

Jordan Mitchell, Sports Reporter

Despite No. 7 Texas pitching six consecutive shutout innings, the Longhorns failed to overcome an early 6-2 deficit in the second inning, falling to the Horned Frogs 7-5 in a stagnant bullpen battle. 

On paper, the Saturday matchup against Texas was unfavorable for TCU. With 190 walks ahead of Friday’s game, the No. 23 Horned Frogs typically jumpstart their offense by being persistent and patient at the plate, loading bases and depending on singles for RBIs. Against a command pitcher like redshirt senior Tristan Stevens, TCU’s batting lineup should have struggled.

“I think the biggest thing for us against their offense is to pound the strike zone, which I like Pete (Hansen) and Tristan (Stevens) in those roles,” Texas head coach David Pierce said during a media availability before the weekend matchup.

However, TCU effortlessly tracked and slashed Stevens’ pitches, connecting with three in the first inning and five in the second inning, including a three-run home run. 

The eight hits and six scores in the first couple of innings were in sharp contrast to TCU’s Friday night at the plate, where the Horned Frogs were shut out and held to a mere two hits. 

Despite its pitching struggles early on, Texas played impenetrable infield defense following the two errors committed in the first inning. 

Spearheading the defense was the duo of redshirt sophomore Trey Faltine and sophomore Mitchell Daly. In the seventh inning, the shortstop and second baseman were responsible for every out, including a putout on a TCU dive to second base and a crucial double play late in the game. The pair had a combined four putouts and seven assists on the night. 

During a media availability, Daly said that he had instant chemistry with Faltine since stepping into the role of second baseman as a true freshman last season. 

“It’s not something we think about at this point. It’s natural,” Daly said. “It’s been fun playing on the other side of second base with him.”

The nail in the coffin for Texas ended up being the back-to-back doubles scored by TCU in the top of the ninth, which widened the lead from two scores to three before heading into Texas’ final scoring opportunity in regulation time, where sophomore left fielder Dylan Campbell launched his second home run of the night into left field.

As a sophomore with a sophisticated swing and ability to play nearly every position on the field, Campbell had high expectations coming into this season as a possible solution at designated hitter for Texas. However, Campbell struggled until last week’s matchup against Oklahoma, in which he hit two home runs and has since improved his batting average by 44%. 

“I’m really pleased with where his (maturity) and growth is right now,” Pierce said. “He just has got to continue to learn how to play the entire game on both sides of the ball.”

Campbell said in the ninth inning, he wasn’t trying to hit another home run but rather get on base and give his team a chance to come back and win the game.

“No matter how much we are down, we are fighting back,” Campbell said. “We take it down to our last strike. We are never out of the game.”