AUSTIN — It has been a long time since Texas baseball lost eight straight, and it will only get longer. Texas avoided a meeting with history thanks to three hits from freshman shortstop Joe Baker and two RBIs from senior second baseman Brooks Marlow in a 6-4 midweek victory over Wichita State.
Six pitchers combined to hold the Shockers to just five hits. Sophomore Josh Sawyer went 3.2 innings in the start, allowing two hits and two earned runs while striking out four and walking three. Freshman Jake McKenzie received credit for the win walking one and striking out another in one inning of work. John Malmin surrendered a 2-run home run in the sixth, the only hit allowed in his 0.2 innings of work. Freshman Kyle Johnston worked 0.1 innings, walking one and striking out one. Connor Mayes pitched an impressive 2.1 innings, including the eighth where he escaped a bases loaded jam by getting a fly out and a ground out to preserve the Texas lead. Senior Ty Culbreth earned the save working a perfect ninth.
Texas was led defensively by Baker’s outstanding glove work. He made one diving play and one sliding play over the course of the game, preventing hits both times.
Junior C.J Hinojosa, who has moved to third with Baker taking over at short, played great defense as well. Hinojosa, who played at shortstop his first two years, is not a stranger to the hot corner, having played there in the Cape Cod league this past summer. The outfield made all the plays and throws they needed to, not allowing the Shockers to take extra bases.
Texas opened the scoring in the first inning with two runs. The first came from the bat of Ben Johnson when he beat out the throw from second to first on an attempted double play, allowing Baker to score. Then, Johnson scored thanks to an RBI double from Hinojosa.
In the second, Texas added two more when sophomore Zane Gurwitz scored on a Brooks Marlow single. Then, Baker scored another run on a sacrifice fly by Tres Barrera.
Wichita State would add two in the fourth off of an RBI double, but Texas responded in the bottom half when Marlow brought Gurwitz home for his second RBI of the game.
After the Shocker home run in the sixth, Texas held on to a 1-run lead until freshman Michael Cantu was brought home by a RBI single from Baker. The 2-run lead would hold in the ninth, giving the Horns the chance to begin a winning streak Friday against rival Oklahoma.
Head coach Augie Garrido said that going into this weekend trying to win two straight instead of on an 8-game skid was big for his team psychologically.
“The big thing was the win,” Garrido said. “It was important to see the team much more relaxed than they have been during this stretch. I think being at home helped.”
Garrido said that the team talked among themselves, and that the results from that conversation showed through tonight.
“I think the conversations they had amongst themselves helped each other,” Garrido said. “A lot of guys made a lot of different contributions in a lot of different ways, probably none more important than Connor Mayes in the eighth inning. Joe Baker was terrific offensively and defensively. Brooks Marlow had a good night offensively.”
Baker said that the team’s true colors came out tonight.
“It was good to get out there, but the best part of the day was getting that win,” Baker said. “I think we really showed what type of team we are today. The weekend before we didn’t show what type of team we are.”
Baker also said that the senior leaders have told the rest of the team how much better it is to be a part of a successful program.
“The senior leaders were here in the bad season,” Baker said. “They know you do not want your season ended early in May. They’ve been telling us to get out there and compete like they know we can.”
Texas faces Oklahoma at home for a series beginning this Friday.