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Texas 15, Sam Houston State 9: Oddities and offense stand out during Longhorns' long night

Texas catcher Silas Ardoin, right, celebrates a run with teammate Zach Zubia during Tuesday night's 15-9 win over Sam Houston State at UFCU Disch-Falk Field.

Baseball fans who brought their scorebooks to UFCU Disch-Falk Field on Tuesday night were kept busy. The midweek melee between Texas and Sam Houston State left scorers scribbling for four hours and two minutes.

The lengthy game featured runs that were recorded in a myriad of ways. Texas scored on a balk and one of Sam Houston State's five wild pitches. Sam Houston State brought a runner home on a Texas error, but it also gave up a run when a catchable ball fell harmlessly between three Bearkats and turned into a Zach Zubia double. The two teams combined for eight pitching changes and 25 players recorded at least one at-bat.

In the end, Texas emerged with a 15-9 victory. It was the Longhorns' eighth win in their last 10 games.

Up next: a three-game series this weekend against South Carolina. Texas (8-5) is ranked 19th in the D1Baseball poll. Undefeated South Carolina (10-0) is 12th.

"A real offensive day," UT coach David Pierce said. "Great job by the offense today. The defense stayed solid. We had to pick up the pitching today and we did a nice job doing that." 

Sam Houston State (3-6) scored first on Tuesday, but Texas quickly responded with four runs. After scoring in four of the first five innings, Texas held a 10-2 lead by the time its 15th out of the game was recorded. A win seemed inevitable.

Still, Sam Houston State sent 11 batters to the plate in the sixth inning. One of those was pinch-hitter Mason Schulz, who launched a three-run homer off Texas reliever Dawson Merryman. That was the biggest swing in an inning that featured five hits, two pitching changes and seven runs.

The Longhorns quickly regrouped and eventually distanced themselves, scoring five more runs over the next two innings. Texas finished with a season-high 16 hits, and the 15 runs scored were the most since 2019.

But the Longhorns also allowed a season-high nine runs, and Sam Houston State's 11 hits were the second-most that Texas has surrendered so far. One notable pitch was thrown for the Longhorns, though.

In the top of the seventh, the Bearkats faced an 11-9 deficit but had the bases loaded with two outs. Batting was leadoff hitter Colton Cowser. Pitching for Texas was Tanner Witt. Cowser is rated by MLB.com as one of the top prospects for the 2021 draft. Witt, a right-handed freshman, turned down professional overtures last summer.

On a 3-2 pitch that was thrown inside, Witt got the left-handed Cowser to ground out to second base. Cowser had delivered a hit in three of his previous four at-bats.

"Tanner's not afraid, he's not going to back down. That's what you love about the kid," Pierce said. "I didn't like the situation. I wish we would've attacked (Anthony MacKenzie, the No. 9 hitter in Sam Houston State's batting order who drew a two-out walk) much better." 

Texas left-hander Pete Hansen was credited with the win. He was making a designated start, and allowed four hits and two runs. He threw 73 pitches over four innings. Pierce said the redshirt freshman could have gone another inning had Texas not been nursing a large lead.

Hansen is now 1-0 with a 3.48 ERA. The start to his season was slowed by COVID-19. He then left last week's midweek start at Texas State with a shoulder issue.

"It's definitely not been ideal, to say the least," Hansen said. "But we're back here. You can't really live in the past. You've got to keep moving forward."

Around the bases: Senior outfielder Austin Todd went 2-for-3 but exited the game in the fourth inning with a shoulder injury. He will have an MRI on Wednesday. ... Pierce said reliever Drew Shifflet was experiencing breathing problems as he struggled during the sixth inning. ... Sam Houston State pitcher Jack Driskell, a Stony Point graduate, gave up one hit over 1.2 innings ... Mike Antico scored four runs and stole three bases for Texas.