After the first game of the series between TCU and Texas lacked offense, Texas made sure to provide more than enough for both teams Saturday.
The first four hitters in the Longhorns’ lineup went 10-for-15 with 10 RBI lead by Eric Kennedy’s 4-for-5, 3 RBI performance. Blair Henley pitched six innings of one-run ball in his hometown to help Texas even the Big 12 series at a game apiece with a 13-1 win.
“I think we came in here very determined, but at the same time we maintained the ability to stay relaxed,” Texas head coach David Pierce said after the game. “That was huge for us. There was no pressure put on anyone that you have to perform today to make sure you have an opportunity to win a series. Guys just went out and played and did a nice job.”
Texas matched its run total from Friday with one swing from Zach Zubia in the first. Zubia was robbed of a home run to center field in game one, but there was no fielder who could deny him his two-run shot to start Texas’ offense.
TCU responded in the bottom half with a run, but Henley would pitch effectively from that point.
He had the backing of his offense specifically Duke Ellis, Eric Kennedy, Austin Todd, and Zach Zubia.
“The top of the lineup really did their job today,” Zubia said. “We executed when we had people on, and it was a team effort for sure.”
Each did something to help the cause Saturday night. Ellis only notched one hit but reached base four times. Zubia added two more RBI following his first inning blast to bring his total to four. Austin Todd brought in three with his three hits.
However, the night at the plate belonged to Kennedy. His single in the first set up Zubia’s home run. He singled again in the third as part of a four-run inning that included two bases-loaded walks issued to Zubia and Ryan Reynolds.
He grounded out in the fourth, but delivered the hit that broke the game open in the fifth. Down 0-2 in the count, Kennedy ripped a ball to the corner in right field. He motored all the way to third, clearing the bases and blowing open the game.
“He should be able to hit for average as he sees more and more pitching for the simple fact that he can run,” Pierce said of Kennedy. “He’s going to gain some infield hits. At the same time he has the ability to drive the ball and it was great to see him get the triple with 3 RBIs.”
Texas added two more runs in the inning and one more in the seventh all while Henley was going through the TCU order.
“I put the fastball where I wanted,” Henley said. “I commanded it on both sides of the plate. I worked off that and threw my slider and changeup when I needed, and curveball I think three times. Other than that, I used my fastball tonight.”
Pierce made a large amount of substitutions in the field with the game in hand. Every position player that traveled saw action.
He was much more judicious in his usage of bullpen arms. Jack Neely surrendered one hit over two innings after a disastrous outing against Arkansas earlier in the week. Donny Diaz also was able to close things out with a hitless ninth.
As a result, Texas is as fresh arm-wise as it can be after completing four of the five games scheduled for the week. The large lead allowed most starters to get some rest with an afternoon game to cap the series Sunday.
The turnaround is quick, and Pierce wants his team to forget about the two previous results with the chance to take another conference series tomorrow.
“We’ve got to flush this one,” Pierce said. “As hard as it was to flush last night, I think we did a great job of coming back and preparing. Now we’ve got to move on. We’ve got a chance to win a series tomorrow, and that’s the plan.”
First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 1 p.m. The game will be televised on FSSW+.