Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

No. 16 Texas baseball overcomes slow start to beat San Diego on opening day

Skyler Sharp
Redshirt senior Peyton Powell tags the San Diego runner out as he slides into third base on Friday. Powell finished the game with 2 hits and 1 run helping the Longhorns defeat the Toreros 7-3.

With the bases loaded and No. 16 Texas trailing by one run, sophomore shortstop Jalin Flores went yard to the brand new Yeti Yard. 

“When I saw the first pitch (and) saw what he’s got, I didn’t want him to beat me,” Flores said. “I just want to drive the ball gap-to-gap and I got a pitch to drive, and that’s what I did.” 

In front of the largest opening day and eighth largest crowd in school history of 7,935 attendees, Texas defeated San Diego 7-3. Despite dropping temperatures, high winds and an ominous sky, fans flocked to UFCU Disch-Falk Field to see Texas face its first real opponent of the 2024 season. 

Over in left field, people packed into the Yeti Yard, a new attraction unveiled by athletic director Chris Del Conte to bring the fans that usually occupy the left field fence, known as OccupyLF on ‘X,’ closer to the action. The Yeti Yard is level with the field and has a chain link fence for viewing, making for a unique game-watching experience. 

“Over 7,900 (fans) tonight,” head coach David Pierce said.” That’s pretty impressive for these kinds of conditions.”

Up until Flores’ grand slam, Texas was able to get players on base but found itself unable to bring them home. After his first year, he spent the offseason working on improving his hitting, starting with tightening up his swing.

“He’s in a better position to not only hit for average but also hit for power,” Pierce said. “That’s the mechanical side of it, but the mental side of it has been huge. He knew coming in this year, it was his job to lose, and he attacked that head-on.” 

Texas struggled, hitting into the wind early and several Texas players had hits that looked like they were destined to land beyond the outfield fence that fell for pop-outs in the breeze. The most notable moment was in the bottom of the fifth inning when redshirt senior left fielder Porter Brown’s ball was caught in right field. 

“Any other day that’s a homer, but … the wind kept it in and gave me another opportunity to get another (at bat),” Flores said. “Guys before me got on base — that’s all we needed was an opportunity. … The next guy stepped up and we passed the bat and all we needed was one big hit.” 

In the eighth inning, first baseman Peyton Powell drove home catcher Kimble Schuessler with an RBI triple on a fielding error for Texas’ final offensive push of the night. 

Redshirt junior Lebarron Johnson Jr., the Big 12 Preseason Pitcher of the Year, opened the season on the mound for the Longhorns, posting six strikeouts while giving up five hits and two earned runs through the first five innings. 

“I give respect to San Diego, they’re a really good hitting team,” Johnson said. “They’re patient and really ready to hit the fastball.” 

While Johnson pointed out that he wants to work on having fewer walks and throwing fewer pitches, Pierce noted that although it wasn’t his best performance, he was satisfied with Johnson’s production on the mound. 

“LBJ wasn’t his best, but he gave us a good five innings,” Pierce said. “We kept him under his pitch count, and then we were able to go single innings with four guys. They weren’t their cleanest, but at the same time, they got the job done.” 

Sophomores Max Grubbs, Grant Fontenot, Gage Boehm and junior David Shaw finished the game for the Longhorns, each taking an inning with Grubbs registering the win. 

Texas will return to UFCU Disch-Falk Field against San Diego on Saturday and Sunday for the second and third games of the season. 

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