Longhorns can accomplish team mission if they get past a strong Tennessee Tech team

Texas Baseball (Will Gallagher/IT)

Texas Baseball (Will Gallagher/IT)

COOK: A quick look at Tennessee Tech

Before Texas’ 2018 season began, Texas head coach David Pierce was asked what his team’s goal was. In response, he said every team has the same goal at the beginning of the year; make it to Omaha and win the College World Series. His team’s mission was different.

Pierce said in February he believed the mission of the team was to “take over Disch-Falk again.” In this weekend’s super regional series against Tennessee Tech, not only can Texas complete its mission but take the next step in accomplishing one of its consistent program goals.

Texas boasts a 30-7 record at UFCU Disch-Falk Field in 2018, two more wins and one fewer loss than in Pierce’s first season as the Longhorns’ head coach. His team lost one series at home all year, and went undefeated in midweek games at Disch-Falk. However, the Longhorns welcome a Golden Eagle team that lost just three games away from home this season. One of those losses occurred in the Oxford regional against an Ole Miss team they eventually eliminated to reach the super regional.

TTU can hit. They’ve hit everybody they’ve faced, and they’re confident they can do what’s necessary to advance to the next stage.

“We all love each other and we know we can do it,” TTU’s Travis Moths said. “We have what it takes to make it to Omaha and win it.”

Texas should be confident its own ballpark, especially after two emotional weekend series wins at the Disch. One locked up the Big 12 regular season title, and one solidified a place in the super regional round. However, they’re facing a team that might be more confident than anyone they’ve faced this year.

“We’ve put in some work and we’ve grown throughout (the season) since we stepped on campus this year,” TTU’s Chase Chambers said. “We’ve made a bunch of strides to get better and it shows. One through nine, we hit the ball well and have great approaches.”

Tennessee Tech head coach Matt Bragga has experience playing at Disch-Falk. He recounted a game during his Kentucky playing career where Longhorn great Brooks Kieschnick took one of his teammate’s deep over the batter’s eye in center field.

Up and down the lineup, his team is filled with players that can do to opposing pitchers what Kieschnick did to the Wildcats in 1993. TTU leads the nation in five different offensive categories including runs per game, batting average, on base percentage, and slugging percentage. It could be one of the best lineups in the entire country.

Chase Shugart (Will Gallagher/IT)

Chase Shugart (Will Gallagher/IT)

“I think they’re a very quality line up,” Pierce said. “I don’t know if I can say I’ve seen a better quality lineup this year.”

Golden Eagle home runs are rewarded in the dugout by the presentation of a replica WWE Championship belt

“We call it the home run belt,” Chambers said. “One of our freshmen pitchers bought it and he’s just dragged it around with us for, it’s been a month now? We’ve had three different belts. Each time we get a new belt, it gets nicer.”

Tennessee Tech isn’t the average mid-major team. They may not come from a strong conference in the Ohio Valley, but they displayed an ability to put the bat on the ball like few other teams in the country. “There’s no real holes, so we just have to attack the way we attack and be cautious of where their strengths are,” Pierce said.

TTU played in some marquee college baseball environments and excelled in multiple facets of the game on the way to a 52 win season. In the pre-super regional press conference, all three Golden Eagle players exuded confidence.

“We’ve seen some top arms,” Chambers said. “We’ve seen top arms these past two years. They don’t scare us. We know that if we stick to our plans and play the baseball that we’re capable of, we can beat anybody.”

Texas knows what’s at stake in the final games at Disch-Falk Field of 2018. There’s an opportunity to defeat a team with some of the best hitters in the country. There’s also an opportunity to complete the mission the team set earlier in the year.

“I just think that they have played really well at home, and when we talk about ownership we talk about the Disch,” Pierce said. “I think it means a lot to our team. This is our place and we are going to play our best here. I do think they have accomplished that and want to continue that.”

Texas and Tennessee Tech begin the best-of-three series Saturday at 2 p.m.