The situation didn’t look good. Not for Texas. Not for Chase Shugart. Not for the two-run lead the Longhorns had built up to that point at the top of the seventh inning Tuesday night.
But it couldn’t have been better for Texas State: Bases loaded, no outs, the top of the lineup coming up to bat.
The Bobcats had already had a no-outs, bases-loaded opportunity in the second, and they didn’t score there. In the top of the first the previous week, they also had the bases loaded with no outs and didn’t score then either.
They weren’t about to go 0 for 3, were they? Not when this could be their last scoring opportunity.
But leadoff hitter Derek Scheible struck out swinging. And Jonathan Ortega popped out to Kacy Clemens. Then Theodore Hoffman lined out to Bret Boswell. Texas didn’t let Texas State score. Not in the second. Not in the seventh. Not in the entire game. The Longhorns won 2-0 at UFCU Disch-Falk Field.
The Horns’ (25-15) bullpen executed like it needed to in the seventh. Big, since that same bullpen had blown a 3-0 lead to Baylor in the eighth inning last Friday.
“I thought we elevated our pitches and I thought we were able to continue to make quality pitches,” Texas coach David Pierce said of the no-outs, bases-loaded jams.
The pitching was exceptional Tuesday. Blair Henley started the game and went five innings, allowing four hits, two walks and striking out three. Then the bullpen came in, and they continued pitching well. Connor Mayes, Shugart, Tyler Schimpf and Beau Ridgeway all pitched one inning and they allowed only two hits.
Texas’ offense, meanwhile, wasn’t as good as the pitching.
The Longhorns only scored twice. Kody Clemens singled in the third, scoring Zane Gurwitz. And in the sixth, Ryan Reynolds doubled to the gap in left-center, scoring Kacy Clemens from first base. Reynolds had the best night at the plate, going 3-for-4 with a double and an RBI. He had two RBIs in last week’s win against these Bobcats who were without head coach Ty Harrington Tuesday because he was suspended for a number of ejections.
Reynolds had gone hitless in the three-game series at Baylor, and was hitting only .222 before the game, so Tuesday was a bright spot for him.
“I just came off kind of a slow weekend, and got with the coaches and coach Pierce came up and just told me not to swing as hard as I can,” Reynolds said.
With 25 wins, Texas has matched its win total from last year. Asked if this is what he expected out of his first season, Pierce said, “I did expect us to do this and hopefully it continues.”
Pierce wasn’t here last year, so he didn’t witness the struggles and the disappointments. He inherited most of the same roster from 2016 with new players. This was his expectation, but he’s not entirely content because he knows one thing:
“I expect us to win a lot more.”