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HOUSTON — The Texas Longhorns avoided games during the early portion of the season in which all three phases posted disappointing performances until Sunday’s 9-8 loss to Missouri.
It was close to overcoming a sluggish start at the plate versus Missouri starter Spencer Miles, five fielding errors by Longhorn defenders, and sub-par pitching from most UT hurlers who appeared in the game, but an extremely questionable strike three call to Duke Ellis with the tying run at third in the ninth extinguished Texas’ comeback hope.
Following a late night Saturday culminating in a win over No. 6 Arkansas, Texas struggled at the plate until the late innings of Sunday’s contest versus Mizzou. They ran out of opportunities before their bats fully got their act together.
“Today, we didn’t show resiliency,” Pierce said. “Today, we showed a little weakness and today we acted like a young team today.”
Senior Austin Todd was the only Longhorn to register a multi-hit game despite the Longhorns reaching the double digit mark in that column. Sophomore Lance Ford, in his first start of the season, was 0-for-1 with two walks.
From the beginning, Texas played behind the Tigers. Missouri took a 1-0 lead in the first and doubled it in the third. Both times, errors were instrumental to the runners crossing the plate.
Sophomore Coy Cobb continued a string of average performances to start the year. He was charged one earned run and struck out four over 5.0 innings. His defense did him no favors regarding Missouri’s first two runs. Cobb was solely responsible for the third, as Mizzou DH Peter Zimmermann’s swing with a 3-0 count sent Cobb’s fastball almost to the Minute Maid Park train tracks.
Texas took the lead in the bottom of the fifth, but didn’t take an active role in scoring its runs. The Longhorns had three runs cross but registered only one hit during the frame. Tiger relievers Art Joven and Shane Wilhelm struggled to locate the strike zone during the fifth. No Joven pitch found the zone.
The lead was quickly lost in Kolby Kubichek’s first inning of work in relief of Cobb. It started with an error committed by the sophomore, and quickly turned into five Mizzou runs. Texas allowed those five runs on five hits and Kubichek’s error, giving Mizzou a lead it wouldn’t lose. Tiger pitcher Trey Dillard overcame three hits, two walks, and an earned run over 1.1 innings to close things out for the save.
Texas fought back to make it a one run game with a single run in the seventh and two runs in the eighth, but errors by freshmen Silas Ardoin and Brenden Dixon on the same play gave the Tigers the insurance run they required in the ninth.
“Too many errors,” Pierce said. “We gave them too many runs, and probably gave away too many at bats even though we scored eight runs.”
Todd singled pinch runner Andre Duplantier home in the bottom half of the ninth with two outs and two strikes, but Ellis could not replicate the leadoff man’s magic in the ensuing at bat.
Seven pitchers took the mound for the Longhorns, with junior Kamron Fields delivering the best relief performance. In his first appearance since February 16, Fields pitched two perfect innings with two strikeouts.
“We talk a lot about winning on Sunday, and we just didn’t play well,” Pierce said. “That’s what I’m going to mark it down as right now. I really feel like we just didn’t play well, learn from it, move on and get ready for Arizona on Tuesday.”
Tuesday’s game versus the Wildcats is followed by a home series against Cal State Fullerton.