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On a chilly Austin Wednesday, a north wind blowing in made UFCU Disch-Falk Field one of the coldest places in the city. The Longhorn bats were hot in spite of the cold temperatures, pounding 10 hits to help plate seven runs. Five pitchers combined to give up two runs as Texas cruised past the Lamar Cardinals, 7-2. Freshman Bryce Elder earned the win in 1.2 innings of work.
While Texas had its bats working, Lamar’s fielding was affected by the cold. The Cardinals committed four errors throughout the course of the game including two that allowed a pair of Texas runs to score. On the other side, Texas committed just one error in the second inning that never ended up posing a threat to the Longhorns.
Lamar put up the first run in the opening frame when freshman starter Nico O’Donnell gave up a single, a walk and a hit by pitch to the first three batters of the game out. Lamar first baseman Robin Adames then laced a single to right field scoring one, but sophomore Austin Todd’s throw to junior Michael McCann prevented another run from being plated from second base. A double play ended the opening frame with no further damage.
O’Donnell gradually settled in after a shaky first and didn’t give up another hit until the final batter he faced. The San Antonio native finished a 3.1 inning outing with a line of three hits, one earned run, two walks, two strikeouts and one hit batter. His outing was kept short at 50 pitches in case he was needed in the weekend series against LSU.
“He needs to have the ability, if we need him, to throw one or two on Sunday,” head coach David Pierce said. “That was about right.”
He was replaced by Elder. Of the five pitchers to toe the rubber for Texas, Elder was the only one who saw action in the previous weekend’s series against Louisiana-Lafayette. Two HBPs over 1.2 innings were the only blemishes on Elder’s record.
Texas matched the Cardinals’ score in the second when junior left fielder Tate Shaw doubled down the right field line to score junior first baseman DJ Petrinsky, who reached after singling and advancing on a sacrifice bunt. The Longhorns extended their lead in the fourth after Petrinsky began the inning with a single, and advanced to second on a throwing error. During pinch and eventual designated hitter Zach Zubia’s at bat, Petrinsky advanced to third on a wild pitch. Petrinsky scored on a sacrifice fly off Zubia’s bat to give Texas a lead they would not relinquish.
Later that inning with a chance to prevent any further damage, Adames let a ball pulled to first by sophomore shortstop David Hamilton go under his glove, which allowed Texas’ third run to be brought home.
The game was blown open in the fifth inning when Petrinsky’s double brought Todd home for the JUCO transfer’s lone RBI of the game. The next at bat, Zubia tripled to straightaway center on a ball that normally would sail over the batters eye. That three-bagger scored Petrinsky to make it 5-1 Longhorns.
Then, Shaw dribbled a ball back to the pitcher with one out, but Aberee Hiebert’s throwing error allowed Zubia to score and Shaw advanced to third with the ball in short right field. McCann scored Shaw on a sacrifice fly to right to cap the Longhorns’ scoring in the fifth and for the game.
The Cardinals added one more run in the sixth when Adames crushed a ball into the right field bullpen of off junior Mateo Bocchi, but that would be Lamar’s final hit of the game. Bocchi finished the sixth and seventh innings to complete his outing, and added one walk to the hit and earned run that came as a result of the home run.
Freshmen Matt Whelan and Bryce Verplank each tossed a perfect inning to close out the last six outs and the win for Texas.
Pierce wanted to make sure several arms received work in the midweek matchup, and he was able to accomplish that during the victory. One reason he did that was to get guys their first live opportunity against collegiate hitting. Another reason was to prepare his team for the future.
“It’s because we’re developing pitchers,” Pierce said. “We know that we’re going to have to use more than seven guys like we did this past weekend. We’re always in preparation. These guys needed to get out there. The offense gave us a little cushion to give us some comfort and allow them to go out there and not have to be in a 0-0, 1-0 type game in their first outing.”
Texas’ seven runs on 10 hits is a line that normally reads from games played in warmer weather. Though it was just the opposite, Pierce’s team made sure it had little effect.
“Guys are doing a great job of getting better pitches to hit and a little more selection,” Pierce said. “When they get pitches, we were able to handle it. Doing a much better job with two strikes. Honestly, Zach Zubia on any other night has three home runs and eight RBIs.”
Texas heads to Baton Rouge this weekend to take on the No. 23 LSU Tigers in Alex Box Stadium. “The Box” is a tough place for any road team to play, but Texas is ready to see what it is made of against the Bayou Bengals.
“Now were playing in an environment that’s as good as any in college baseball and playing a really good team,” Pierce said. “There’s a lot of obstacles there, so it’s a great opportunity for us to see who we are at this early stage of the game. I want to see our guys go out and just play like they play at home and be confident, attack the zone, trust their stuff, and get quality pitches to hit.”
First pitch Friday is scheduled for 7 p.m., weather permitting.