After disappointing Wed. loss, Pierce prepares Horns for series with LSU

DJ Petrinsky (Will Gallagher/IT)
DJ Petrinsky (Will Gallagher/IT)

AUSTIN — With LSU visiting Austin this weekend, Texas head coach David Pierce wanted to cycle some young arms through Wednesday’s game while still trying to defeat visiting UTSA. That task appeared to be achievable after Texas jumped to a 6-0 lead in the third inning.

All that vanished as Texas gave up an eight-run fifth inning. Nico O’Donnell was charged with five earned, while Beau Ridgeway took the loss after giving up three unearned runs in two-thirds of an inning.

Texas tried to get back into the game and cut the deficit to three, but the dismal fifth inning couldn’t be overcome.

“The inning just unraveled on us,” Pierce said Thursday. “I think we had three bases on balls, four errors, and three pitches that resulted in six RBIs with two strikes. When you do that, it’s the formula for failure and we just couldn’t overcome it.”

A midweek game that used six different pitchers, though just one with over 32 pitches, wasn’t the way Pierce wanted to head into an important series against visiting LSU, who is ranked first in the nation in several college baseball polls.

In addition, Wednesday’s loss against UTSA accentuated another problem Pierce’s team has put itself through in the opening weeks. The youth that has been charged with a lot of innings has struggled to remain consistent throughout an entire week or series. Not just the pitching, but the fielding as well.

“We melted in game three at Lafayette when we didn’t pitch well and walked nine,” Pierce said. “We’re in a 0-0 game in game three with Purdue and have four errors in the inning. We’re trying to prevent it from being a trend.”

So far, it hasn’t been an outright trend. It’s been a ‘one game’ or ‘one inning’ thing.

“We’ve walked 35 guys through ten ballgames. Nineteen of them in two games,” Pierce said. “It’s somewhat bizarre but it’s also a latter part of a series or a second game of a double midweek where we still have some youth that we’ve got to find out if they can perform at this level.”

Texas will attempt to figure out solutions prior to the LSU Tigers coming to town. LSU is undefeated in 2019 but has only played in one three-game series against Bryant, with several one-offs filling the rest of the schedule up to this point.

The Longhorns might be LSU’s toughest non-conference test, while the Tigers might be Texas’ toughest non-conference test.

“Last night, as bad as it was, I hope we learned from it,” Pierce said. “I never feel good after a loss, but for whatever reason to me the timing of everything happened, and it snowballed. It’s like ‘alright, let’s forget this one. Let’s wipe this one out. Let’s get ready for LSU.’ That’s how we’re approaching it.”

Texas dropped two of three at Alex Box Stadium last year in a series between college baseball bluebloods. Both teams have won six national championships and are the class of the sport in their respective conference. There will assuredly be big crowds at Disch-Falk Field this weekend, something Pierce wants his team to experience with the tough schedule.

“We’re ready for the challenge,” Pierce said. “We’re looking forward to the competition against a great program. When you look at week three in college baseball and LSU and Texas is playing, can’t get much better than that.”

Texas will keep its same rotation of Bryce Elder on Friday, Blair Henley on Saturday, and Coy Cobb on Sunday for this weekend’s series.