Texas 6, Fullerton 1: Horns overcome slow offensive start with six-run seventh

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Texas overcame 5.1 innings of no-hit pitching from Cal State Fullerton starter Tanner Bibee with a six-run seventh inning. Eric Kennedy and Murphy Stehly added a RBI apiece via singles, Eric Kennedy drove in two with a double, and DJ Petrinsky set off Smokey the Cannon with his two-run shot to left field. Dawson Merryman earned the win in relief for a 6-1 Texas victory.

Bibee was near perfect throughout the first half of the ballgame. His only early blemish was a walk to Todd to start the bottom of the first. Until Stehly’s one out single in the fifth, Todd was Texas’ only baserunner. Stehly’s single had little on-field effect as the next two Texas hitters were retired, but in the dugout it signified to his teammates Bibee wasn’t untouchable.

“Any time there’s a no hitter going on, you’ve got to get the first one,” Stehly said. “It’s kind of an ice breaker. The energy picked up.”

The magic ran out in the seventh when Bibee continued his third time through the Texas lineup. He walked Zach Zubia, who advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. Trey Faltine walked, and Kennedy slapped a double toward the left field bullpen one batter later.

Titan left fielder Miguel Ortiz took several circuitous angles on fly balls on a windless night at UFCU Disch-Falk Field. He had a delayed start tracking Kennedy’s liner, but even a solid jump likely would not have resulted in an out. Kennedy’s hit gave Texas a 2-1 lead, but Petrinsky made matters worse for the Titans the next at bat.

“DJ is DJ,” Texas head coach David Pierce said. “He can lull you to sleep, and the next thing you know he can win a game for you.”

The Longhorn catcher worked a full count, and Bibee threw him a looping curveball that had been effective against UT hitters most of Friday night. This curve was left too far up, and Petrinsky elevated the ball for his second homer of the year.

“I tried to slow things down,” Petrinsky said. “I’ve got Troy Tulowitzki telling me to trust the process and I heard that and that’s what I did. I calmed down and got the pitch to hit.”

Bibee, who was near flawless in the game’s early portion, would end up taking the loss as a result.

Texas wasn’t finished scoring although Bibee exited the game. Peyton Powell welcomed Evan Adolphus to Austin with a pinch-hit double, and Stehly followed Powell with a double of his own to make it 5-1. Todd brought in Stehly with a single the next AB to cap Texas’ scoring for the evening.

Elder allowed one run in the fifth when Kameron Guangorena’s floating liner to left brought home Jackson Lyon, but that would be the extent of CSUF’s scoring for Friday night.

Outside of the fifth, Fullerton failed to put another stressful inning on the shoulders of Elder. The Longhorn ace pitched 6.2 innings and allowed one earned run on five hits, walked three and struck out five over 112 pitches. Pierce admitted Elder didn’t have his best stuff Friday, but still battled and kept his team in a position to win despite the sluggish start at the plate.

“Early, we hit some balls hard that we didn’t have anything to show for, but between Bryce just going out there and gutting it out when he didn’t have his best stuff and couldn’t get a slider down, and our offense just really staying locked in and not pressing and waiting until they had their opportunity, just a good job of putting that inning together,” Pierce said.

Freshman Dawson Merryman relieved Elder and forced a ground ball to end the Titan seventh. Texas would take its lead the next half inning, and Merryman followed with a quick eighth. Donny Diaz hit one batter in the ninth, but closed out UT’s Friday night win.

Texas attempts to take the series at noon on Saturday with Ty Madden on the mound.