Baseball

Texas 10 UIW 1: Bench players, notably Dylan Campbell, make most of midweek opportunity

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David Pierce typically trots out the same eight or nine players in the starting lineup, with maybe one or two deviations over the course of a weekend. Tuesday’s game versus UIW saw a somewhat different group take the field. Regulars Zach Zubia, Mike Antico, and Silas Ardoin were given an opportunity to rest.

Not every replacement had a big night, but Dylan Campbell made the most of his chance in a somewhat unfamiliar position. Listed as an infielder on the official Texas website, Campbell started in left field. In Texas’ 10-1 win, he drove in three runs, scored one, and knocked a two-run home run. He also acquitted himself well in the field, recording four putouts.

“You look at Dylan, who is a swing guy, he can play second.” Pierce said. “Then we found out he’s fine in left field. We knew he was. He can play center. The one thing about Dylan is we’ve always felt like he can hit, and he proved that again tonight against a soft left-hander and also against a velo guy when he hit that rocket out to left.”

He wasn’t the only UT player to take advantage of new opportunities at the plate. Freshman Tanner Witt, who has seen plenty of innings late in games on weekends, went 2-for-2 with two runs and a walk.

Even pinch-hitter Peter Geib, who missed the entire 2020 season due to injury, homered on the first pitch he saw in almost two years. His three-run shot in the eighth put the game at it’s final, nine-run margin.

“How about some guys off the bench?” Pierce said. “Just really nice to see them have opportunity and take advantage of it.”

There were some regulars who contributed to the Tuesday win. Douglas Hodo drove in one, as did Cam Williams and Ivan Melendez. But the bulk of the run production, 60 percent to be exact, came from Geib and Campbell.

Campbell’s appearance wasn’t his first of the season. He started several games during the first few weeks of the 2021 campaign at second base before Mitchell Daly claimed the role. Daly started at second on Tuesday, so Campbell’s shot at left was a test for his fielding ability.

Pierce mentioned Campbell had some experience playing outfield in showcases, but he mostly stayed in the middle infield while at Strake Jesuit. Whenever presented with a chance to make a routine play, Campbell made it look routine.

“It was good for him to just go be comfortable and catch the ball,” Pierce said.

Freshman All-American Pete Hansen received another Tuesday start. His velocity is still lacking, but his effectiveness was not. Over 4.1 shutout innings, Hansen allowed four hits, walked two, and struck out four. He threw 77 pitches, a season high.

Tuesday was Hansen’s fourth straight appearance in a midweek game. Pierce was pleased with Hansen’s effectiveness despite his lack of velocity but said after the game he does not think he is quite ready to pitch on the weekends.

“We haven’t been very productive with left handers out of the bullpen, so you could even see him in that role on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday,” Pierce said. “We’re getting there, and we’d like to be able to do that.”

Texas’ relief quartet of Cole Quintanilla, Palmer Wenzel, Lucas Gordan, and Coy Cobb allowed one run over the final 4.2 innings, with Quintanilla earning the win.

Big 12 play continues this weekend when the Longhorns welcome rival Oklahoma to Austin.