For a team that had lost four of its last five games, had yet to win a series in conference play this season and was in danger of missing the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year, this was exactly what the doctor ordered.
After pushing only four runs across in three games against Oklahoma last week, two of them losses, Texas had that many runs by the end of the second inning of a 12-5 win over Texas State at Disch-Falk Field on Tuesday night.
The Longhorns scored four more times and batted around in the fourth inning. Mark Payton had an RBI single in that frame, one of his four hits on the night as the junior right fielder went 4-for-4 with three runs and two RBIs.
Payton, the Longhorns’ cleanup hitter, saw his batting average drop 30 points over the last five games but got back up over the .400 mark Tuesday. He’s currently batting a team-best .411 while center fielder Weston Hall and shortstop C.J Hinojosa each contributed three hits.
“It felt good to get out here and get that ugly feeling out of our stomach,” Payton said.
Texas State doesn’t stack up well to many of the squads Texas will face in Big 12 play in the rest of the season. The Bobcats fell to 12-20 on the year and have only won twice on the road in 2013.
But when you’re slumping as badly as the Longhorns were, you’ll take what you can get.
“The reward that comes from winning is create an environment that makes it easier for teaching,” Head Coach Augie Garrido said. “You have to rebuild your confidence in this game because it’s a game of failure. The offensive players did that tonight.”
Texas has lost games in bunches this year. After scoring just three runs while getting swept in a three-game series by Stanford, the Longhorns lost four in a row. They have lost four of five games on two separate occasions in the last month.
So, even if the Longhorns set season-highs in runs (12) and hits (16) against a team like the Bobcats, there’s reason to believe they can stay hot and win their first Big 12 series of the year this weekend against Kansas.
“We played with the intensity of a 12 year old,” Payton said. “That’s why we play this game. The thing in the left field scoreboard says you have to play this game like a 12 year old.”
If that’s what it takes to light up that scoreboard the way they did Tuesday night, the Longhorns better play like 12 year olds for the rest of the season.