Tres Barerra was getting ridiculed by his teammates for much of the season.
Through 20 games, Barerra, the 2014 NCAA Home Run Derby champion, had not hit a ball over the fence. He couldn’t stop thinking about it. Teammates kept asking what was wrong with him.
“I … don’t … know,” Barrera would tell them. “I’m just a single machine right now.”
Before he stepped into the batter’s box in the bottom of the eighth inning Tuesday night, Barrera stuck out his chest and told his teammates that he was going to swing for the fences, literally. Then, with the count at 1-1, Barrera was sitting on a fastball. UTSA’s Chad Dulling threw him a breaking ball that didn’t break.
“I just saw it floating up there,” Barerra said, “sat back, and let it rip.”
Barrera connected. The ball flew off his bat like a rocket on a mission and ended up in the UFCU Disch-Falk Field parking lot, behind UTSA’s bullpen. And the run was on the scoreboard before the ball had cleared the fence.
It was Barerra’s first home run of the season. And it was the final run — and the topping moment — in the Longhorns’ 11-2 blistering of the Roadrunners.
Nolan Kingham got the win for Texas, even though he didn’t get the start. Going into the game, Longhorns coach Augie Garrido planned on using his bullpen for much of the game. Texas used seven pitchers in all. Nick Kennedy started for the Horns, who were reeling after dropping the weekend series to Tulane.
The Horns scored in the bottom of the first inning to take a 1-0 lead. UTSA tied it in the second. The Longhorns answered in the bottom half of the inning, Michael Cantu scoring on Brady Harlan’s sacrifice fly.
The Roadrunners tied it again in the top of the fourth; Trent Bowles, who led off the inning with a walk, scored all the way from first base when Harlan bobbled Mason George’s double.
But the bottom of the sixth just would not end.
After 25 minutes, Texas had scored eight runs and there was only one out. UTSA used three pitchers.
“We were really patient,” Barerra said, “and we know those guys came in there throwing a lot of balls.”
Still, the rally, really, started innocuously.
Kaleb Denny led off against UTSA’s Andre Shewcraft. He walked on five pitches. Then Cantu walked (four pitches). Shewcraft was replaced by Bradely Griggs, who then walked Kody Clemens (five pitches) to load the bases with no outs. Zane Gurwitz hit a screaming line drive to first baseman Mark Hilston, who couldn’t coral it. That scored Denny. Harlan then walked, and Griggs was replaced by Ben Bookover.
Bookover walked Travis Jones on five pitches, and then Clemens singled to score Gurwitz. Barerra singled to left field, plating Jones and Harlan. Patrick Mathis followed by grounding out to first, but Clemens scored on the groundout. Denny singled to right field to plate Barerra.
Texas didn’t score for the rest of the inning, which lasted 34 minutes with a scoring flurry unlike anything the Longhorns have seen all season.
“Sometimes when that kind of thing has started for us, we become our own worst enemy,” Garrido said.
For Texas, the scoring binge was a positive sign, especially as they head into conference play on Thursday. And if the Longhorns keep hitting like they did Tuesday, maybe they’ll turn things around. Barrera, who was 3-for-5 with the home run and four RBIs, sure did.
“Monkey’s off my back,” he said.