Texas makes use of gifted runs from Houston in 9-4 victory

DJ Petrinsky (Will Gallagher/IT)
DJ Petrinsky (Will Gallagher/IT)

The Houston Cougars outhit Texas seven to four on Tuesday, but the scoring opportunities the Longhorns were repeatedly handed made the difference in the game. Texas scored nine runs in the third and fourth innings with none of the RBIs coming as a result of a base hit. It was enough to overcome another early inning deficit for a 9-4 win.

Texas found itself in familiar territory when freshman starter Tristan Stevens lasted just one-third of an inning, allowing one earned run, a hit, and walking two. He was replaced by pitcher of record freshman Bryce Elder, who allowed two runs in the second during his 2.2 relief innings.

“I just felt like at that point it’s a start that says disaster, so we had to make the move right away,” Texas head coach David Pierce said on Stevens’ quick hook. “I thought Bryce did a good job of settling down, controlling it, and avoiding the big inning. That’s what we avoided right there.”

The gifted runs didn’t come until Texas recorded its first hit in the third inning with a single by junior catcher DJ Petrinsky off Cougar starter Lael Lockhart. Getting Lockhart out of the wind-up proved to be the turning point of the game, as after that point he gave up four runs. Three of them weren’t even off batted balls.

Junior center fielder Tate Shaw was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. The same thing happened to junior left fielder Masen Hibbeler in the next at bat. After junior second baseman Kody Clemens struck out, freshman designated hitter Zach Zubia walked to tie the game. Sophomore shortstop David Hamilton’s sacrifice fly gave the Longhorns a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

Four runs on one hit, two walks, and two HBP.

“We got him in the stretch and once that happened he kind of reciprocated what we did,” Pierce said. “We took it. We didn’t have very many quality at bats but we figured out how to win the game. That’s a good sign of a good ball club.”

Kyle Ott relieved Lockhart to earn the last out of the third. He trotted out for the fourth, but he would meet a similar fate.

Petrinsky once again started the rally with his second single. Sophomore right fielder Duke Ellis followed suit. Senior first baseman Jake McKenzie tried to lay down a bunt to sacrifice the two over, but instead he was hit by the pitch. Ott walked Shaw, and was replaced by Fred Villarreal. Ott gave up four earned runs in 0.1 innings of work. Villarreal’s line was just as bad.

A wild pitch from Villarreal allowed Ellis to score run No. 6. After Hibbeler walked to fill the open base, Clemens was hit by a pitch to bring in run No. 7. Villarreal was replaced after failing to record an out.

The nightmare fourth looked like it was on its way to completion when Zubia, not known for his speed, grounded to short, but Cooper Coldiron bobbled the ball. The Houston first baseman could not field Coldiron’s errant throw, and two runners scored as a result.

Over two innings, Texas scored nine runs on three hits.

“DJ had a very good night offensively,” Pierce said. “Other than that, we were just fortunate to win the game.”

After Elder’s 2.2 innings, freshman Nico O’Donnell trotted in from the bullpen for the fourth. He retired the side in order. O’Donnell trotted out for the fifth. He retired the side in order. O’Donnell trotted out for the sixth. He allowed a one out walk, but got the next two hitters.

He went back out for the seventh, but after two outs and two singles Pierce went to junior Matteo Bocchi. A wild pitch allowed Houston’s fourth run to come in, but the damage was limited to just one.

“We got some quality innings out of Nico,” Pierce said. “Not his best, but he was much better at attacking tonight. I liked his rhythm.”

Texas could get nothing going offensively in the sixth, seventh, and eighth, but the pitching and fielding more than made up for it. Juniors Josh Sawyer and Andy McGuire worked the last two innings to end the game.

Although it looked like a little league game took place at UFCU Disch-Falk Field, Pierce was just pleased to get out of the midweek game with a W.

“Never had a bad win,” he said. “It was ugly, but we’ll take it. We’ll move on, learn from it.”