Austin — In the first game of Big 12 conference play, Texas got a walk-off victory with the help of freshman walk-on Connor Macalla.
Macalla’s sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 10th to bring home senior Brooks Marlow capped off a night of outstanding pitching from seniors Parker French and Kirby Bellow in Texas’ 4-3 victory over the West Virginia Mountaineers. Here’s the box score.
French delivered his best start of the young season, allowing three runs on seven hits while striking out seven and walking one on 114 pitches. French made an outstanding play for his final two outs, as he turned a 1-6-3 double play, even after the runner on first began to steal. French lowered his season ERA to 1.72, and was relieved by Bellow, who delivered a perfect tenth to get the win.
Texas continued to play big ball instead of small ball. Down one in the 3rd, junior shortstop C.J Hinojosa put a triple just over the left fielder’s glove and just short of the top of the fence to bring home senior Ben Johnson. Then in the 6th inning facing a 2-run deficit, Marlow hit a solo shot to the right field bullpen to bring the Longhorns within one. For the second time this week, Brooks’ brother Ty caught the ball in the pen.
Hinojosa’s big night wasn’t finished quite yet, as in the seventh he hit a monster shot over the 375-foot marker in left field to tie the game at 3-all. In the 9th, Texas had a chance to win after Johnson singled and reached second on an error. A sacrifice fly moved him to third, but freshman catcher Tres Barrera couldn’t bring him home.
The final inning began with Marlow reaching with a ground-rule double that landed just inside the right field foul line. Freshman Bret Boswell moved Marlow to third on what was one of many fly outs to right field, when Macalla, who had pinch hit for Taylor Stell in the eighth, came to the plate.
Macalla hit a deep fly to center on a 0-1 count to seal the deal for Texas first win of the conference season.
“It was fun,” Macalla said. “I felt like I was in a movie. I got it in my hot spot and just tried to get it in the air.”
Head coach Augie Garrido said that his team’s approach at the plate improved after they trailed the Mountaineers by a few runs.
“The rally in the bottom of the tenth was set up by the quality of at bats all the way from the time we got behind,” Garrido said. “There’s an element of luck that affects both sides, but to come out with a win, and this is what I talk about all the time, you can’t get mentally tough enough until you play these types of games.”
Garrido also said that the performance by his ace was business as usual.
“He was very efficient,” he said. “He was very well balanced in between innings. He was very workman-like in his performance, very steady. He pitched with confidence, he pitched to the mitt, and he also fielded his position.”
French said that he did not even have to ask to go out in the 9th with more than 100 pitches, but that he knew he had to go do his job.
“I kind of learned my lesson not to politick. Usually bad things happen after that. I was told I was going back in, took a seat on the bench, and locked in. I don’t mind pitching in that situation, where there’s a lot of high energy and there’s a lot at stake.”
Texas plays at 5 p.m. tomorrow with Josh Sawyer getting the start.