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Texas A&M powers past No. 8 Texas as UT's pitchers slump in front of a near-record crowd

Danny Davis
Austin American-Statesman

On Tuesday night, Texas was caught between a Rock and a hard place.

During a game in which No. 8 Texas and Texas A&M combined for 28 hits, Dylan Rock's tie-breaking grand slam turned out to be the biggest swing in a 12-9 win for the Aggies. The loss was UT's third straight to its in-state rival.

Texas (19-8) also has lost three of its last four games. 

"It's super frustrating, but it's good for us," Texas shortstop Trey Faltine said. "I'd rather have these battles right now, early in the season, get them over with. Come later in the season, we'll be ready and we'll be battle-tested and we'll have gone through everything."

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Starring in front of an announced crowd of 7,990 — the second-largest at UFCU Disch-Falk Field for a non-exhibition game — was a player making his debut in this rivalry. Rock, however, was not unfamiliar with the Longhorns.

Texas' Trey Faltine runs away from Texas A&M third baseman Ryan Targac during Tuesday night's 12-9 Aggies win at UFCU Disch-Falk Field. The No. 8 Longhorns have lost three of their last four games.

The graduate student had spent the previous four seasons at UTSA. In three career games against Texas while with the Roadrunners, Rock went 4-for-9.

Tuesday night, he helped his new team strike first on an RBI double in the first inning, and later scored to make it 2-0. He hit his grand slam to break a 4-4 tie in the fourth inning. And his two-out single in the sixth kept the inning alive so the Aggies could add another run.

All three of Rock's hits were recorded on a two-strike count. His grand slam and sixth-inning single came with two outs.

"Every time that guy shows up here, he gives us problems," Texas coach David Pierce said.

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Rock was not the only Aggie who was trouble for Texas. A&M first baseman Jack Moss hit for the cycle and Austin Bost also homered.

Of the six UT pitchers who threw, four allowed a run. The Aggies (15-9) got at least one runner on base against every Texas pitcher. 

Texas catcher Silas Ardoin prepares to catch the ball at home plate as a Texas A&M baserunner slides during the Aggies' 12-9 win Tuesday night.

The Longhorns headed to Lubbock last weekend with the seventh-best team ERA in the country. But after three games at Texas Tech and Tuesday's tussle with A&M, that ERA has swelled from 2.63 to 3.49.

"Rough pitching night," Pierce said. "Really, really pleased our offense continues to have great at-bats, defense was solid. We've got to pitch better."

Pierce believes some of his pitchers have gotten into their own heads. When asked how that gets corrected, he pointed to a conversation he had with Jared Southard after the sophomore gave up Rock's grand slam.

Pierce told Southard that he wouldn't take him out of the game. Southard eventually got out of the fourth inning and retired the Aggies in order in the fifth.

"It was his job to go out and get three outs or he's going to rot on the mound," Pierce said. "Because we need him, not because I'm trying to be abusive, but I feel like that's an arm that can go dial it up."

Texas infielder Skyler Messinger throw to first base during the Longhorns' 12-9 loss at UFCU Disch-Falk Field. The Longhorns, who dropped from No. 2 to No. 8 nationally, have lost three of their last four games.

In defeat, Texas still outhit the Aggies by a 15-13 margin. Faltine drove in three runs with his ninth and 10th homers of the season. Douglas Hodo III also added two RBIs.

Top play: Southard was called out of the bullpen to start the fourth inning. He retired the first two batters he faced, but A&M singled and walked twice to load the bases with two outs.

Southard got two strikes on Rock. Home plate umpire Doug Williams, however, said Southard's next two offerings missed. Facing a 2-2 count, Rock then hammered a pitch over the fence in left field.

Texas has allowed four grand slams this season.

Notable number: 14. In the second inning, A&M attempted to move a runner in scoring position with a stolen base. But Ryan Targac was thrown out by Silas Ardoin.

It has been tough to run on UT's third-year catcher. Targac attempted the 22nd steal with Ardoin behind the plate. Ardoin has thrown out 14 of those runners.

Up next: Texas A&M isn't the only rival on UT's schedule this week. On Friday, the Longhorns will open a three-game series against Oklahoma.

The 2022 edition of the Red River Rivalry has been moved to Arlington's Globe Life Field. Since Oklahoma was originally going to host these three games in Norman, the Sooners will serve as the home team at the Texas Rangers' ballpark.