Sloppy play, miscommunication handicap Texas baseball as Missouri wins in walk-off fashion 6-5

Nick Hargroue, General Sports Reporter

Despite a gritty performance out of Texas baseball’s bullpen, Missouri proved to be the better team on Saturday, winning 6-5 with a walk-off double in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Fielding mistakes were the story of the day as gaffs by both teams caused many self-inflicted wounds. Head coach David Pierce takes a lot of pride in having a good fielding team, but Saturday’s showing was the exact opposite of the kind of precision he demands out of his team.

“We understand that we’ve got freshmen on the corners,” Pierce said. “It’s always different when you practice and when you’re playing for real in this type of environment. They’ll either figure it out quickly or they won’t be in there.”

In the first inning, junior starting pitcher Zane Morehouse found himself in a pickle as a couple of routine bunt attempts by the Missouri offense flustered Texas’ defense, allowing the bases to be loaded early on in the game. The Tigers would only score one in the inning, but the minor errors in the first were an indication of things to come.

After Texas managed to tie the game up off of a wild pickoff attempt by Missouri junior starter Ian Lohse in the top of the second inning, the Tigers came right back in the bottom of the third and scored three runs, once again pressuring the Longhorn defense into making mistakes. Throwing inaccuracies and passed balls haunted Texas, as the team couldn’t stop shooting themselves in the foot early on.

Despite falling behind early, Texas’ bullpen steadied the tide by only allowing one run after Morehouse was pulled. This gave the Longhorns the opportunity they needed to scratch and claw their way back into the game. Slowly but surely, Texas drew walks and put pressure on the basepaths to chip away at the Missouri lead, eventually tying the game in the top of the seventh inning.

The bullpen was a weakness for Texas last year. However, early on this season, it looks to be a strength for the Longhorns. A big part of that success can be attributed to pitching coach Woody Williams, who worked with the pitching staff in the offseason and helped instill a new confidence in the group.

“(Coach Williams) is doing a great job, using his demeanor, his knowledge, his confidence as a pitching coach,” Pierce said. “They’re listening, so we’re making strides.”

Despite the methodical comeback attempt, Arkansas transfer and Missouri junior catcher Dylan Leach came up to the plate and drilled a line drive down the left field line in the bottom of the ninth inning, bringing home the go-ahead run and winning the game for the Tigers amidst Woo Pig Sooie chants from Arkansas fans waiting for their 7 o’clock game.

Missouri may have outclassed Texas in Saturday’s game, but the Longhorns will have one last chance to earn their first win this weekend on Sunday morning. Texas plays Vanderbilt at 10:30 a.m., hoping to shake off today’s game and come out swinging.

“We have a game tomorrow,” junior infielder Mitchell Daly said. “We gotta get some things better, but there’s a lot of room to improve, so we’re excited about that.”