Fatigue and inexperience sink Texas in 9-3 loss to Texas State

JT Bowen, General Sports Reporter

The Longhorns looked like a team playing their fifth game in five nights, with a combination of bullpen inexperience and fatigue ultimately sinking the Longhorns as they fell 9-3 at home against Texas State to split the series.

Sophomore Ace Whitehead drew the start and pitched a decent four innings that would go on to look great given Texas’ pitching the rest of the way, allowing four hits and two runs.

Junior right fielder Dylan Campbell opened things up for the Longhorns, launching a solo homer into center left field in the bottom of the first to put Texas up 1-0. Campbell has completely turned around his season from a hitting standpoint, going 2-4 at the plate tonight and batting .439 in his last 10 games after a dismal .166 average through the first 10 games of the season.

Texas State evened things back up in the top of the second on a sacrifice bunt with runners on the corners, but Ace Whitehead closed out the inning with a strikeout to keep the score knotted up.

“Ace has been pretty good in our midweek games,” Texas head coach David Pierce said. “He’s done a pretty good job of just giving us a chance to win. He hasn’t been perfect, (but) he’s getting up to 60 pitches, right in that range, and going four to five innings competing for us.”

The Longhorns responded and retook the lead on a Mitchell Daly home run into the Texas State bullpen, his third of the season. The junior shortstop was a lone bright spot for Texas, tacking on a double in a 2-3 performance and adding four assists.

However, the buck stopped there for the Longhorns, and it was Texas State the rest of the way.

The Bobcats tied it back up in the top of the fourth after a scoreless third inning with a single into left center field, driving in a runner on second and wrapping up Whitehead’s night after closing the inning with the score 2-2.

In a bit of a surprise move, redshirt freshman Cameron O’Banan took to the mound in relief, the only pitcher on the active roster who had yet to make his Longhorn debut prior to tonight’s action. He flashed his changeup with two strikeouts in his debut at the top of the fifth, but was uneven and was replaced by Cody Howard following .2 innings in which he gave up two hits and a run for the Bobcats to go up 3-2, ultimately getting charged with the loss.

While dealt a tough hand, with runners on second and third, Howard, a redshirt freshman, struggled as well, walking his first batter to load the bases and giving up a double that extended the Texas State lead to 5-2 before finally wrapping up the inning on a strikeout.

“Just trying to encourage them, try to make them feel like the moment’s not too big, and just making sure they’re slowing down, going into their breath, just making sure they feel in control,” Daly said of his effort to make the young relievers feel at ease. “And I feel like that’s our responsibility up the middle and also G(uillemette) and Cuda (Rylan Galvan) behind the plate. If we do that I feel like they’ll be able to make the pitches.”

Redshirt junior third baseman Peyton Powell answered back with his 10th double of the year to drive in Max Belyeu and shave the deficit to two runs in the bottom of the fifth, but it was too little, too late, as the Longhorns would log just two more hits in the final four innings.

True freshman Max Grubbs opened the sixth inning on the mound for Texas and threw a rough 1.1 innings, giving up five hits and two runs to just one strikeout before getting pulled for redshirt sophomore André Duplantier II.

Duplantier II entered with runners on the corners and was unable to pull Texas out of a jam, ceding two runs to extend the Bobcat lead to 9-3 following a single, a wild pitch and a sacrifice fly. He was more encouraging in the eighth, not allowing a hit, but did hit a batter.

After a hitless eighth inning with pinch hitters Jayden Duplantier, Tanner Carlson and Jalin Flores swiftly retired, Texas fans emptied the stands and Coach Pierce emptied the dugout of its reserves at the top of the ninth as the Longhorns waved the white flag.

“Today that was the most critical thing late in the game once (the Bobcats) created separation is, hey, let’s just get them another at-bat,” Pierce said. “It’s just, keep trying to grow them and so, yeah, we’re still a work in progress. We really are. But it’s a good progress because we feel pretty comfortable with our depth.”

Redshirt sophomore Chase Lummus took the mound for the final frame and, as he did in Friday’s win over Kansas State, played well, throwing two strikeouts and retiring all three batters cleanly in a quick inning. 

Despite the loss, Coach Pierce was pleased with the homestand overall.

“I’m not disappointed in our team at all,” said Pierce. “I think we’ve competed really well the past five games against two good teams and it just wasn’t our night tonight.”

The Longhorns will surely enjoy a day off before looking to bounce back this weekend in Waco as they take on Baylor in their fourth conference series of the season.