Texas baseball drops road trip against Cal State Fullerton

JT Bowen, General News Reporter

After tying up the series in their second matchup, Texas baseball couldn’t pull off a comeback in Sunday’s rubber match, unable to use the extra innings to their advantage, falling 1–2 against Cal State Fullerton and dropping to 4–7 on the season.

Texas’s offensive struggles continued to plague them, with just 13 total runs scored across the three games, with five of them coming from home runs. 

The Longhorns squandered a lead to a significant Cal State Fullerton comeback in game one. The Longhorns took a 5–1 lead after a four-run fourth inning, but the Titans tied it right back up in the bottom of the fourth.

Texas rolled with junior pitcher Lucas Gordon to start, but after giving up four runs and five hits, opted to sub in junior DJ Burke. Sophomore David Shaw proved to be Texas’ best option on Friday, throwing three strikeouts in two innings.

Three scoreless frames went by, the game still knotted at 5–5, until a double by Cal State was punched in by a wild pitch to put the Titans up for good, 6–5. 

The Longhorns bounced back in game two, beating the Titans 4–2 in a well-pitched battle. After redshirt senior Eric Kennedy struck out leading off, junior right-fielder Dylan Campbell and redshirt junior left-fielder Porter Brown launched solo homers in consecutive at-bats, giving the Longhorns a lead they’d keep the rest of the way.

Redshirt senior center fielder Eric Kennedy’s RBI double sent junior shortstop Mitchell Daly home, extending the Longhorn lead back to two. Texas added one more insurance run thanks to junior second baseman Jack O’Dowd’s triple and the subsequent wild pitch that sent him home.

Cal State added a single run at the bottom of the seventh on a wild pitch, cutting the lead back to two, but Hurley stepped up in the eighth and ninth to seal it for the Longhorns in a 4–2 win.

The Longhorns entered Sunday’s action looking to come out on top in their first road trip of the season, but fell just short of executing an improbable come-from-behind victory.

The Titans got off to a hot start, jumping out to a 3–0 lead in the bottom of the first with redshirt sophomore Travis Sthele struggling in the early goings. Despite two strikeouts, he walked three batters and couldn’t find a consistent rhythm in the strike zone. 

Texas reached deep into its bullpen — with pitches thrown by eight different Longhorns in total — and kept the Titans from extending their lead. The Longhorns’ hitting woes continued for the majority of the game, with Eric Kennedy’s solo homer into right field during the fifth inning putting Texas at a 3–1 deficit entering the ninth.

At the top of the ninth, redshirt junior third baseman Peyton Powell zipped a hit under Cal State pitcher Fynn Chester to reach first base, and when the Longhorns needed it most, O’Dowd launched a clutch home run over the right field wall to tie the game at 3–3. The Longhorns were unable to take the lead, but entered the bottom of the ninth with new life, hoping to send the game into extra innings.

Cal State subbed in pitcher Jason Blood to handle the tenth inning, and after corralling a short hit to throw Brown out at first base, he gave up a near home run to junior catcher Garret Guillemette that resulted in a double thanks to the Cal State center fielder colliding with the wall. 

Texas head coach David Pierce opted to swap out Guillemette for freshman Cade O’Hara, who stole third on a wild pitch and gave the Longhorns a 4–3 lead courtesy of a Powell double deep into right field.

Cal State swung right back in the bottom of the tenth when a runner on second base made it home after a perfectly placed line drive between second base and center field. Porter Brown made the game-saving play with a sliding catch into left field, with a runner on third who would have won the game otherwise. 

The Longhorns hit back-to-back pop-ups that resulted in outs to open the eleventh, and in spite of three consecutive walks that loaded the bases for Texas, freshman pinch hitter Max Belyeu couldn’t bat one in. 

Still tied 4–4, the Titans hit a sacrifice bunt to advance a man to second base, and with two outs, Angelo Aleman played the hero, rocketing a ball into deep left field and sending him home, giving them a 5–4 lead and the win in a nailbiter.

Texas returns home to take on Sam Houston on Tuesday and looks to get its season back on track.