Powell continues to pummel as Texas baseball picks up much needed 7-5 victory over Sam Houston State

Evan Vieth, Senior Sports Reporter

Coming into 2023, Peyton Powell had just nine hits in three seasons for the Texas Longhorns. Since last Friday, the redshirt junior has doubled his career hit totals, including three in Tuesday night’s 7-5 victory over Sam Houston State at home.

“It was a great win, a very needed win,” head coach David Pierce said. “It was probably the most important win of the season.”

Though the Longhorns struggled at the plate for six innings, Powell was the primary sparkplug in Texas’ scoring efforts against the Bearkats. Powell registered one RBI and two runs on three base hits through 6 innings, with run contributions in the second, third and sixth — three of the four innings the Longhorns scored in.

Since establishing his starting role last Friday, Powell is hitting an astronomical .529 while recording just two strikeouts and playing both corner infield positions.

“Everybody needs to be ready to get in there when they can and perform,” Powell said. “Just stay as neutral as possible throughout the whole season.”

Junior shortstop Mitchell Daly’s eighth inning solo shot was responsible for the seventh run of the game in the sole inning Powell did not produce a run.

“He’s the ultimate utility guy,” Pierce said about Powell. “I think you’re just starting to see his skill come out … he’s just gotta keep doing it.”

The rest of the Longhorns, however, struggled to match Powell’s play for a majority of the game. Errors from freshman shortstop Jayden Duplantier led to two unearned runs for the Bearkats. 

“I just told him he’s going to be fine,” Pierce said. “He’s so quick around the ball, he’s got to understand pace better.”

Redshirt sophomore starting pitcher Lebarron Johnson Jr. wasn’t as dominant as he was a week ago against No. 1 LSU, but the righty still delivered six innings with only two earned runs given up. The six innings he dealt in was a career high, but his pitch count stayed under last week’s 92-pitch, five-inning outing against the Tigers. 

“He’s got great stuff,” Pierce said about Johnson Jr. “His biggest thing has been adding a third pitch and also commanding the baseball like he’s never done before.”

Texas generated four of their seven runs in an efficient sixth-inning rally. Junior catcher Garret Guillemette led off with a single, followed by two more by Powell and junior second baseman Jack O’Dowd, knocking in Guillemette for Texas’ third run of the game. The Longhorns finished the inning with four runs tacked on, cycling through the lineup.

“It was great, we haven’t had many of those this season,” Powell said about the sixth inning rally.

Johnson finished the game with a win and junior reliever Charlie Hurley’s three innings of work earned him his second save of the season.

Tuesday’s home win launches the first of 14 straight home games for the Longhorns, the team’s longest homestand since 2001. Texas returns on Wednesday to face the Mercer Bears.

“I think it’s going to really help this team gel,” Powell said. “We had a hard-fought weekend in Fullerton and now coming back to the fans and getting to play on our field, owning ‘the Disch,’ means a whole lot to our team and our guys.”