Baseball

Following sweep of Cal State Fullerton, Pierce faces decision on No. 3 starter

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Texas recovered from a spell where it lost three of four with a weekend sweep of Cal State Fullerton. The Longhorns won 6-1 on Friday4-3 on Saturday, and 8-4 on Sunday with the sweep-clinching win powered by home runs from Austin Todd and Peyton Powell.

It was a needed bounce back for a young team inching closer and closer to Big 12 play. Powell’s homer and other contributions from multiple regulars offered glimpses of needed improvement in some spots, but one position — Sunday starter – continued to be a problem area.

Sophomore Coy Cobb entered the 2020 season as the No. 3 starter, a role he held for most of 2019. He beat out fellow sophomore Kolby Kubichek and freshman left-hander Pete Hansen for the role, but his performances this season, specifically in Sunday’s game versus the Titans, have made his hold on that spot tenuous at best.

Cobb 2020 statistics

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In his career, Cobb has worked 6.0 innings or more just three times and all were in 2019. Sunday was another difficult outing, the third shortest of his 17 appearances at Texas. Longhorns head coach David Pierce himself visited Cobb in the first inning rather than send pitching coach Sean Allen. He tried to inspire confidence in Cobb, but he would return to the mound the next inning to take the ball from the sophomore from Katy.

Pierce said postgame he believed Cobb was pitching off the plate and with a slow tempo. He said it will be back to work for Cobb this week, but the lack of consistency from the Sunday spot is an area of worry.

“The first couple of outings, you’re not concerned,” Pierce said. “When it becomes a little bit more consistent then you’ve got to address it. We’ve got a guy waiting in the wings. It’s a good chance that he’ll be in that role next week.”

The guy waiting in the wings? Pete Hansen.

Hansen 2020 statistics

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Hansen has shined in his six appearances. His WHIP is a minuscule 0.65. Opponents are hitting .158 against the lefty from El Dorado Hills, Calif. He’s third on the team in innings pitched and strikeouts behind Texas’ Friday and Saturday starters, Bryce Elder and Ty Madden. His ERA is currently zero.

A preseason case of mononucleosis precluded Hansen from taking the Sunday spot. Pierce liked being able to utilize Hansen out of the bullpen for situational matchups, but his performance this season paired with Cobb’s struggles might necessitate a Sunday switch from Pierce.

“If we made a change, it would definitely be Pete,” Pierce said.