Lucas Gordon’s outing propels Texas over TCU, Longhorns advance to Big 12 semifinal

Hunter Dworaczyk, Sports Reporter

Holding a slim one-run lead in the eighth inning over top-seeded TCU in the Big 12 Tournament, No. 5-seeded Texas baseball desperately needed to add an insurance run or two if it wanted to walk out of Globe Life Field with a win Thursday. 

After a balk from TCU’s Luke Savage brought redshirt sophomore outfielder Douglas Hodo III home to score, redshirt senior outfielder Austin Todd hit a single to bring the score to 5-2. Insurance secured.

The Horned Frogs added one more run, but Texas held on to secure a 5-3 victory. The win advances the Longhorns to a comfortable spot in the Big 12 Tournament, needing just one win Saturday to advance to the championship game.

“Our No. 1 motivation was (to have) an off day tomorrow,” Texas head coach David Pierce said.

Sophomore pitcher Lucas Gordon got the start on the mound and did the most to limit the Horned Frogs. Despite having to work through some unfavorable counts, the lefty only allowed two hits, two walks and one earned run Thursday.

Gordon utilized Globe Life Field’s deep outfield successfully in his outing, forcing 13 fly outs in his 7.2 innings of work. 

“I thought (Gordon) did a really good job with his fastball away,” Pierce said. “He did a really good job of competing, even though he probably wasn’t as sharp as he’s been.”

Thursday’s performance was Gordon’s first time pitching into the eighth inning during his Texas career. Gordon appeared on track to pitch eight complete innings, but hamstring cramps forced the sophomore out after 108 pitches. 

“It kind of got better and then 2-2 with two outs, every single piece of my leg started cramping,” Gordon said. “So that’s when I knew that I had to let Luke (Harrison) or Tristan (Stevens) come in and do their thing.”

Unlike the opening game of the Big 12 Tournament, in which Texas was held scoreless through five innings, the Longhorns’ offense struck early against TCU. In the top of the first inning, redshirt senior outfielder Murphy Stehly blasted a three-run home run to left field to give Texas a 3-0 lead before TCU had a chance to swing the bats. 

“(Having a lead) gets me loose, especially because I know they have my back,” Gordon said. “Even if I did give up a run, they still got my back. It’s always a good feeling when your team puts up three before you even pitch.”

Texas will return to Globe Life Field on Saturday to face the winner of the contest between TCU and Oklahoma State. Sitting undefeated in tournament play, the Longhorns need just one win to advance to the championship game and must be beaten twice Saturday in order to be eliminated.

The win strengthened the Longhorns’ case to earn a regional hosting bid. Entering the ball game, Texas sat at No. 15 in the NCAA’s Rating Percentage Index. Defeating TCU, who sits at No. 32, almost pencils Texas in as a host.

“When you look at our resume, there’s no doubt in my mind that we should be hosting, especially after these last two games,” Pierce said. “We position ourselves well. (The Big 12) is going to send six teams to the NCAA Tournament. I think we’ve put ourselves in a spot where we deserve to host.”