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David Pierce’s Texas Longhorns accumulated 20 hits over the first four games of the 2021 season. Texas’ issues weren’t limited to the batter’s box during the opening series in Arlington, but the poor performance at the plate continued Wednesday in the first game of a four-game set with the BYU Cougars.
The opposite occurred on Thursday in UT’s fifth game. Texas notched 15 hits versus the Cougars, plating 12 runs. The Longhorns scored in five of their eight chances at the plate. Led by Mike Antico’s three RBIs, UT took game two from BYU, 12-6.
Every member of Texas’ starting lineup was credited with a base hit. BYU helped the Longhorns’ cause, committing five errors throughout the course of the game, but those errors were made due to the pressure Texas’ diverse offensive approach put on the Cougars.
The Longhorns needed to have active bats right out of the gate. UT starter Justin Eckhardt allowed a sacrifice fly and a three-run home run in the top of the first. The Longhorns responded in the bottom half with a RBI single from Trey Faltine, who eventually scored following BYU’s second failed pickoff attempt of the bottom of the first making it 4-2.
Eckhardt calmed down in the second, and Texas continued to put pressure on the BYU defense with a combination of offensive strategies. Three straight singles from Zach Zubia, Dylan Campbell, and Douglas Hodo opened the first, with Hodo’s bunt single loading the bases for Mike Antico.
Continuing his timely hitting from Wednesday evening, Antico followed Hodo with a hard double down the right field line to score two. Faltine drove in a second run with a sacrifice fly to center that scored Antico, who was put 90 feet away after an Eric Kennedy sac bunt.
Conventional offense began rallies, small ball continued them, and a combination of the two plated runs.
Small-ball strategies were pivotal in Texas’ four-run second. It helped give the Longhorns a lead they would not surrender and added to UT’s increasing run total in the successive innings. Texas’ seventh run was driven in by a bunt single from Hodo. The eighth run from a Silas Ardoin sac fly.
The various methodologies came through for Pierce’s team once again in the four-run seventh. Zubia began the inning with a single, and pinch-runner Lance Ford advanced to third on one of BYU’s five errors. He was driven in by a sac fly from Hodo.
Another run scored when Kennedy beat a throw to first on another bunt single. Williams drove in runs in multiple ways, too. His home run scored an important run Wednesday. His hit by pitch with the bases loaded brought in Texas’ 11th run.
For good measure, Ardoin brought in one more run with a single to right field that scored Kennedy.
Texas outpaced BYU over the final eight innings. After allowing a four spot in the opening frame, Texas’ pitching staff kept the Cougars mostly off the basepaths and allowed just two additional runs.
Lucas Gordon relieved Eckhardt, but the pitching performance of the day belonged to UTSA transfer Palmer Wenzel. In 3.1 shutout innings, Wenzel allowed three hits, walked one and struck out three on the way to a win. His outing was the longest of the day by any pitcher. Austin Wallace pitched 2.0 innings and allowed one earned run to end the day.
Texas returns to action Friday for game three of the series with BYU. The Longhorns will send Ty Madden to the mound in an effort to win the series and get back to .500.