Texas 5, UIW 3: Sluggish after a long weekend and vaccination shots, Horns edge Cardinals
For the Texas Longhorns, their winning streak has started back at one.
In its first home game since April 18, Texas took out Incarnate Word on Tuesday night. The 5-3 triumph came two days after a loss at Oklahoma State snapped a 16-game winning streak for the Longhorns.
After the narrow win over a 14-23 opponent, UT coach David Pierce said he was not one to make excuses. The coach noted, however, that Texas (34-9) played twice on Saturday and then had a seven-hour bus ride home from Stillwater the following day. The majority of the Longhorns also received their second vaccination shot on Monday.
"I felt we were fatigued, we looked fatigued," said Pierce, whose third-ranked Longhorns will open a home series against No. 11 Texas Tech this Friday. "We did a nice job of just figuring out how to win the game tonight."
In the victory, Texas needed five pitchers. A transfer from Angelina College, redshirt sophomore Drew Shifflet was credited with his first win as a Longhorn after he allowed three hits and no runs over 3 2/3 innings. Freshman Aaron Nixon earned his fifth save of the season.
Throughout this season, a midweek game has usually meant a start for Pete Hansen. In his last two starts, Hansen lasted at least seven innings. He retired 17 straight batters during a 5-1 win at Texas State last week.
Hansen, though, was unavailable after he threw 39 pitches in relief on Sunday. Pierce said the talented left-hander is a bullpen option this weekend.
"We knew if he went more than a matchup (on Sunday) then he wasn't going to start today," Pierce said. "With a big series coming up and Pete pitching well, it's important that we have him ready for this weekend."
A little more than a month ago, Texas posted a 10-1 win over Incarnate Word in Austin. But the Longhorns struggled to separate themselves from the Cardinals this time around.
To end the second inning, Incarnate Word left fielder Jordan McFarland robbed Zach Zubia of a two-run home run that was heading to the visiting bullpen. The Longhorns left the bases loaded in the third inning when shortstop Grant Smith held onto a Trey Faltine pop-up after an infield collision with his third baseman. UT got a runner to third base with no outs in the fourth frame but failed to break a 3-3 tie.
Texas finally took its first lead of the night on Zubia's one-out single in the sixth session. Zubia drove in teammate Mike Antico, who was on third base following a leadoff walk, a stolen base and a groundout.
On Tuesday, Antico often found himself running after he walked. After he drew a two-out walk in the second inning, Antico scored from first on a Mitchell Daly double. He then stole second base after walking in the fourth and sixth innings.
Antico, who drove in a run with a seventh-inning sacrifice fly, now has 24 steals on the season. He entered the day with the Big 12's lead in that statistical category. Nationally, only five players had swiped more bags. Since 2007, only one Longhorn — David Hamilton had 31 steals over his 63 games in 2018 — has stolen more bases in a season.
Around the bases: Pierce estimated that 95% of his players have gotten both of their vaccination shots. ... After missing UT's past four games with a knee contusion, third baseman Cam Williams returned to the lineup on Tuesday. Williams played three innings in the field and was pulled after he singled in his second at-bat. Pierce said that Williams' short outing was by design and he is still questionable for this weekend. ... Bastrop product Chance Medina played an inning at third base for Incarnate Word. ... Among the announced crowd of 1,610 was a quartet of UT volleyball players. Texas reached the NCAA's championship match this past Saturday.