Bullpen struggles eliminate the chance of a sweep as Texas takes the series in Waco

Evan Vieth and JT Bowen

Despite a successful series win, the Longhorn bullpen robbed Texas of an enormous away sweep at Baylor.

The Longhorns short trek to Waco ended with a success, but it would be hard to argue head coach David Pierce is satisfied with the weekend. The Longhorns scored 27 runs over three games against the Big 12’s worst pitching staff, but the bullpen gave up 15 runs in 16.2 innings, good for an 8.33 ERA over the three games.

Despite the negative work from the bullpen, Texas had a few shining stars in the weekend win.

Junior left-hander Lucas Gordon’s smile and shimmy after his final strikeout said it all in Texas’s 11–9 victory over Baylor on Friday night. The Longhorns’ leftie ace was the difference in the win, allowing just five hits in six innings and improving to 4–0 in his starts on the year.

“I just feel like he can throw his fastball both sides of the plate,” Pierce said. “Throws a really good changeup, and then an occasional slider that works for him, but he stays on attack.”

Gordon’s sixth strong innings of zero run baseball continues his remarkable season as a starter. His 1.92 ERA is first among qualified Big 12 pitchers, and his .182 batting average against leads all pitchers. 

The story of the weekend was Saturday’s missed opportunity. Despite a four run lead heading into the ninth inning and nine total runs against Baylor, redshirt junior closer Zane Morehouse could not hold onto the lead. Morehouse hit two batters, walked another two, and gave up a hit in two-thirds of an inning before being replaced by junior lefty Chris Stuart. Though credited to Morehouse, Stuart gave up a bases-loaded fielder’s choice and a two-run walkoff single to sophomore third baseman Hunter Teplanszky.

While the bullpen was concerning, Texas’s offense, which has been lackluster on the road this year, was encouraging, more than doubling its season-high run total in Friday’s win and scoring another nine in the loss. 

Junior right fielder Dylan Campbell saw his first action in the lead-off role this weekend and took full advantage, scoring five runs on four hits on the weekend. With Redshirt senior center fielder Eric Kennedy moving back one spot in the order, Texas found newfound success at the top of their order. 

Coming into the series, Kennedy was hitting just .171 in the leadoff spot in Big 12 play. After moving to the second spot in the order, Kennedy hit .500 on the series, adding five runs, two RBI and a homerun on Sunday. Pierce may have found a hitting lineup that will work out well against Big 12 competition. 

With the Longhorns picking up the series win, Texas now stands at 8–4 in Big 12 play. It leads the Big 12 and is one-and-a-half games ahead of second place Kansas State.

Texas will be back in Austin for the next five games, hosting Abilene Christian on Wednesday and Oklahoma for a rivalry weekend series. Though bullpen concerns have plagued the Longhorns, a steady offense and starting pitching from Gordon leave a lot to be hopeful for the back half of Big 12 play, where their future opponents are a combined 22–26 in conference matchups.