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AUSTIN — Texas junior Bryce Elder welcomed the Boise State Broncos back to Division I baseball Friday with an 11 strikeout performance as part of the Longhorns’ 7-0 shutout victory.
The Broncos traveled to UFCU Disch-Falk Field to open their first season in 40 years. They practiced outdoors for the first time Thursday evening as the Idaho winter isn’t conducive to outdoor baseball. No amount of preparation, indoor or outdoor, could have readied them for the performance from the preseason All-Big 12 starter.
Initially, the mystery surrounding the program played to the Bronco’s advantage. A team playing its first game in four decades doesn’t have a lengthy scouting report.
“We didn’t have much of anything other than BP and just a small report,” Texas head coach David Pierce said.
Without knowing individual tendencies of his opponent, Elder decided to pitch on his strengths. Those were more than the Boise State bats could handle. He struck out 11, walked one, and allowed just three hits over his seven innings of work.
“His sinker was good,” Pierce said. “His slider at times backed up on him, but when he needed which I think was the second, he made some big pitches there. He just competes.”
Only one Bronco made it to third base. Elder began the second inning with a walk to Torin Montgomery, then allowed a single to Joe York to put two runners on.
Elder struck out Cory Meyer for the first out, but allowed Myles Harris to put a ball in play in the next at bat. Freshman second baseman Brenden Dixon made a diving stop that kept the ball in the infield threw Harris out at first. Montgomery had to hold at third and Elder needed one more out to escape what would be BSU’s only major threat.
He struck out Grant Kerry on four pitches in the next at bat to end the inning.
Meyer’s strikeout for the first out of the second began a stretch where Elder retired 18 of the last 20 batters he faced. A fifth inning single from Kerry and a seventh inning single from Meyer produced the only two Bronco baserunners during that stretch.
“He just competes so well,” Pierce said. “I love to watch him pitch. I thought he was better late because I thought he got into his best tempo as well. He likes to work.”
The lack of information on Boise State wasn’t easy on the coaches. It wasn’t easy on the players, either, especially when the coaches couldn’t provide all the information on Texas’ upcoming opponent.
“It’s one of those deals where every week I’m going to pitch to my strengths, but this week I asked Coach (Sean) Allen probably five times if you got anything on them,” Elder said. “He would say I don’t have anything. It was just go out there, pitch to my strengths, and read swings as the at bats went. I think we did that pretty well tonight.”
Elder was relieved by freshman Dawson Merryman, who was the ninth and final strike short of an immaculate eighth inning. Elder said after the game Texas student assistant Huston Street jinxed Merryman by noting the occasion when he was one strike away. The Bronco batter grounded to second.
Freshman Jared Southard allowed one hit in the ninth, but stranded the runner with two strikeouts.
“I was really pleased with Merryman and Southard, too,” Pierce said. “Good stuff, attacked the zone out of the bullpen.”
Texas scored two in the first inning when its first three hitters put the ball in play. Senior Austin Todd started things with an infield single. Senior Duke Ellis advanced Todd to third with a double. Junior Zach Zubia brought both of them in with a ground rule double to left.
Junior Cam Williams knocked in his third RBI of the season with a two out single in the fourth. Freshman Trey Faltine plated another when he beat out a potential inning-ending double play in the fifth to score Ellis.
Boise State reliever Ike Buxton walked four allowed three earned runs on 0.1 innings in the eighth inning before he was finally pulled.
Sophomore right hander Ty Madden takes the mound Saturday at 2 p.m. as Texas tries to take its first home series of the season.