Longhorns drop series to unranked Wildcats, fall behind in Big 12 standings

Hunter Dworaczyk, Sports Reporter

No. 7 Texas baseball’s road struggles continued against Kansas State at Tointon Family Stadium this weekend.

After winning their last two series against Oklahoma and TCU, the Longhorns were expected to succeed Easter weekend against the Wildcats, who had won just one conference game entering the series. Yet Texas lost the first two games of the series.

The Longhorns held a 5-1 lead in Thursday’s series opener before the Wildcats scored seven unanswered runs to take the game. On Friday, Kansas State raced to a 8-1 victory.

With its back against the wall, Texas pieced together a 4-2 victory in Saturday’s finale to somewhat salvage the series.

Losing the series 2–1, Texas now sits in fifth place in the Big 12 standings with a 6–6 record in conference play. The Longhorns trail conference leader Oklahoma State by three games. 

With Texas’ 2–4 record in conference road games, head coach David Pierce said preventing the sweep Saturday was important as Texas enters the home stretch of the season.

“(Kansas State) is a very good team, at home especially,” Pierce said in Saturday’s postgame radio show. “This league is tough, but for us to salvage this one is big for us. It keeps us even as we go home for three out of the next four weekends.”

Inconsistent for much of the weekend, pitching came up huge for Texas in Saturday’s win. Sophomore pitcher Lucas Gordon provided a steady presence with his start, throwing seven strikeouts in five innings.

Stepping up into the Sunday starter role after sophomore pitcher Tanner Witt’s injury, Texas has won each of the last five games Gordon started. 

“It started with Lucas Gordon on the mound, and he did a nice job of just continuing to grow in that spot,” Pierce said. “He really mixed up his changeup, his fastball and his occasional curveball.” 

Struggling with his fastball and command in recent outings, sophomore pitcher Aaron Nixon made the most of his outing in Saturday’s finale. Nixon stepped into a high-pressure situation against Kansas State during the seventh inning in  a tight 3-2 ballgame.

The pitcher slammed the door shut on the Wildcats, only allowing two hits and striking out four Wildcat batters in 2.2 innings of work.

“Aaron (Nixon) was great,” Pierce said. “That is something we can really build on.”

Texas returns to UFCU Disch-Falk field for a five-game home stand where the Longhorns will face Air Force in a two-game midweek series and play Baylor in a three-game weekend series.