Texas's Kyle Johnston throws against Stanford in the bottom of the 5th inning during the NCAA men's college baseball game at the UFCU Disch-Falk Field in Austin,Tex., Friday, Feb. 26, 2016. RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Baseball

Longhorns walk nine in 9-5 loss to TCU

Posted March 26th, 2016

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Baseball’s an unpredictable sport.

Some games, like Friday’s clash between Texas and TCU, can breeze by in two hours and some change. Others, like TCU’s 9-5 win on Saturday, are one long, extended exercise in patience.

It took 3 hours, 53 minutes to finish off this nine-inning affair, which featured:

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  • 345 pitches
  • 25 hits, including Tres Barrera’s third home run of both the week and the season
  • 14 walks — nine issued by UT pitchers
  • 13 pitchers, none of whom worked more than the 2 2/3 innings of TCU reliever Ryan Burnett
  • Home plate umpire Jim Garman taking a deflected pitch to the arm, and TCU catcher Evan Skoug taking a deflected pitch to, um, somewhere below the arm
  • Two successful rundowns by Texas along the third base line
  • UT’s first three errors of the week
  • Travis Jones’ on-base streak upped to 18 games
  • Former UT defensive back Aaron Williams throwing a dart down the middle in the game’s opening pitch

In the end, UT fans — whoever was still remaining from the 7,093 announced crowd — were left to wonder if this series win over the nation’s fifth-ranked team signals a turnaround or if it is an outlier in a season that might soon lapse back into the disappointing results that preceded this weekend.

“We have a losing record overall, but a winning attitude,” UT coach Augie Garrido said.

The Horns (11-13, 2-1) were barreling toward a sweep after the second inning when every batter came to the plate and Zane Gurwitz (single), Kody Clemens (walk) and Kaleb Denny (single) produced RBIs for a 3-1 lead. Clemens’ bases-loaded walk came on the first batter faced by reliever Brian Trieglaff, who took over for left-hander Rex Hill, a junior college transfer who lasted just 1 2/3 innings.

UT’s starter didn’t do much better. Kyle Johnston struggled with command in 2 1/3 innings, forcing six full counts and walking two batters. He allowed six hits, and was helped out in the first when TCU’s Skoug got too big of a jump from third and was caught in a run down.

“He struggled with his command a lot,” Garrido said. “His rhythm and his timing were off and he was fighting it from the beginning.”

It was a departure from Friday’s game two when UT’s Ty Culbreth put on a fine duel with TCU’s Brian Howard in the Longhorns’ 2-0 win.

For three games, starting with Tuesday’s win over UT San Antonio, Texas and its revamped defense did not commit an error. The streak ended in the fifth when catcher Michael Cantu threw errantly to third, and Tres Barrera couldn’t block it, resulting in a 5-3 lead for the Horned Frogs (18-5, 4-2). Right fielder Patrick Mathis and reliever Blake Wellmann also made errors, and left fielder Travis Jones ignored the cutoff man in the sixth and made a futile throw to home, giving second base to leadoff hitter Austen Wade.

“More of the kinds of things that plagued us in the past crept back into the game,” Garrido said.

TCU, which entered the weekend as the Big 12’s top offense, erupted for 14 hits and scored runs in five straight innings from the second to the sixth.

Elliott Barzilli, the team’s top hitter, went 3-for-3 to raise his batting average to .483. He drew two walks and did not make an out in five plate appearances.

Skoug, who homered in game one, drew walks in four of his five plate appearances.

In the sixth, Barrera followed Kody Clemens’ double down the first base line with a two-run blast that cleared the fence in left-center. It was the third home run for Barrera of the week and his second of the series.

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