Texas emerges from slop with 7-6 victory over Arkansas

Cole Quintanilla (Will Gallagher/IT)
Cole Quintanilla (Will Gallagher/IT)

Fifteen pitchers combined for 18 walks, eight hit batsmen, 374 pitches, and 13 runs in Texas’ 7-6 midweek win over Arkansas.

It was ugly, but a significant portion of Texas’ 16 wins have been ugly including Wednesday night’s effort to split the midweek series. At this point, Texas head coach David Pierce’s team is growing more and more accustomed to fighting for a win.

“You look at it and we’re not on all cylinders,” Pierce said. “We’re a little rusty at the plate, hit and miss defensively, and we’re just not throwing enough quality strikes. The good news is nobody gave in, everyone continued to fight, and we were able to pull out the win.”

Six hits over 47 plate appearances explains the “rust,” two errors resulting in one unearned run embodies “hit and miss,” and seventeen runs allowed by Texas in two games point to the lack of “quality strikes.”

“I know one thing that Coach (Phil) Haig and myself are going to die in that dugout if we don’t start throwing more strikes,” Pierce said to emphasize recent struggles on the mound.

Despite all those negatives that have appeared several times in the first half of the season, Texas still ended with a victory.

“It just what it is right now,” Pierce said. “When you’re not feeling like you’re playing that well and you’re still able to sneak a win, we’ll take it every single time.”

Texas’ comeback win was bolstered by the 14 free passes eight Razorback pitchers issued. Several pitchers who made appearances aren’t typically on Arkansas’ SEC travel roster, and one pitcher made his debut in a Razorback uniform in front of the 6260 at Disch-Falk Field

The Longhorns used those walks to leave 16 runners on base.

“They struggled on the mound tonight and unfortunately we still couldn’t get a two-out hit,” Pierce said. “The good thing is after we got behind by four, we didn’t panic. We continued to play.”

Texas fell behind 4-0 in the second when starter Kolby Kubichek couldn’t get out of the inning. His exit began an assembly line of Texas pitchers from the right field bullpen to the hill.

A similar assembly line sent Razorback pitchers from the left field bullpen to the main mound. Since no Arkansas pitcher was able to get into a true rhythm or pitch effectively, Texas was able to tie the game in the fifth on a Michael McCann sacrifice fly.

Pierce’s club took the lead with three runs in the sixth, one driven in via a Zach Zubia single, one by way of a Tate Shaw walk, and the third a result of McCann getting hit by a pitch. Cole Quintanilla entered the game in the seventh and allowed one run over three innings to earn his second save of the year.

“He commanded his fastball and he threw the breaking ball right except one pitch where the guy hit a double,” Pierce said. “He’s continuing to work his breaking ball down in the zone, but he had a great angle on his fastball with good velocity, and he threw a lot of strikes.”

After the win, Pierce described his team as a work in progress but noted they were surviving the difficult March schedule that was laid out for them.

There are still some challenging opponents ahead of the team as it moves through the last portion of March and into early April including TCU and Texas A&M. Playing and winning ugly, especially against the better teams on the schedule, is a difficult habit to expect to continue.

However, the win at the end is still welcome after the struggles of Tuesday night and ahead of an important conference series in Fort Worth.

“No matter how you get it, it’s a win,” Zubia said. “No one knows what the box score looks like whenever you see it on the record. It’s a quality win for our team.”