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With regional hosting privileges on the line, No. 10 Texas focuses on its next home games

Danny Davis
Austin American-Statesman
Trey Faltine's walk-off home run Wednesday night helped Texas top Air Force, but the Longhorns have struggled over the past week with a pair of losses to Kansas State and Tuesday's loss to Air Force. But Faltine said the team isn't panicking. "We're focused on one game at a time," the shortstop said.

As it stands, there are a dozen home games left on the schedule for Texas' baseball team.

It was always expected that more games would be added to the itinerary at UFCU Disch-Falk Field once the calendar flipped to June. After all, Texas played three regional games and two super regional games at its home ballpark last season. And since UT started this year with 11 straight wins and the top spot in multiple preseason polls, the thought of postseason baseball in Austin was quite realistic.

However, Texas' midseason swoon has put those regional plans in doubt. Not that the Longhorns (27-13, 6-6 Big 12) are panicking.

On Thursday, Trey Faltine insisted the only home game that matters is UT's next one. That's against Baylor. Of course Texas wants to play at home in the postseason, but the shortstop noted that "we'll play wherever." Besides, the Longhorns can't afford to be thinking about June while playing baseball in April.

"We're focused on one game at a time," Faltine said. "We've got to get there first."

"I take the approach, one pitch at a time, honestly," UT ace Pete Hansen later added.

In the past few days, Texas lost twice at Kansas State and has been blown out at home by Air Force. The Kansas State and Air Force teams that topped Texas have the No. 94 and No. 114 RPI's in the country.

On Monday, Texas was No. 10 in the D1Baseball poll. The next day, the Longhorns were on the wrong end of a 14-2 score against Air Force. The day after that, D1Baseball did not list Texas among the 16 regional hosts in its projections for the NCAA Tournament. The publication predicted that Texas would be the second seed in Dallas Baptist's regional.

Texas is 6-6 in Big 12 play and has 12 games left to play at UFCU Disch-Falk Field in the regular season. The Longhorns are in danger of not hosting any NCAA postseason games. "We've got to win the rest of our schedule if we're going to host," Pierce said. "You're aware of it, but you don't play with that kind of pressure."

Texas coach David Pierce said he hasn't talked to his players about hosting duties in the postseason. It's a topic that UT's sixth-year coach thinks about often, though.

"We've got to win the rest of our schedule if we're going to host," Pierce said. "You're aware of it, but you don't play with that kind of pressure. It is what it is at this point, so let's move on."

Following its loss Tuesday to Air Force, Texas bounced back on Wednesday with a walk-off win against the Falcons. Faltine's two-run homer lifted the Longhorns to a 12-10 triumph. It was Texas' first walk-off win at Disch-Falk Field this season. The Longhorns are 15-4 at home.

"We were all pretty pissed off and upset about Tuesday's game, so to have that kind of game and finally get back in the win column is good," Faltine said. "We're all pretty excited, just keep that momentum."

More:How does Texas pitcher Pete Hansen stack up against the Big 12's recent best in baseball?

This weekend, Texas and Baylor will play three times in Austin. With a 6-6 record in Big 12 play, Texas sits in fifth place in the league standings. 

At this point, Texas — which is in fifth place in the league standings — faces an uphill battle as it tries to defend its Big 12 championship. But the Longhorns are still in the mix. Two of the four teams ahead of them in the standings — first-place Oklahoma State (26-11, 9-3 Big 12) and third-place West Virginia (23-12, 6-3) — are still on Texas' schedule. Texas has lost one more conference game than second-place TCU (25-12, 10-5) and it trails fourth-place Texas Tech (27-13, 7-5) by one game.

Eight of the nine teams in the Big 12 currently own a winning record, including Baylor (20-17, 4-8). This weekend's series could feature some compelling pitching matchups. Four of the top-eight ERAs in the Big 12 belong to Baylor's Tyler Thomas (1.97, 1st) and Kobe Andrade (3.20, 8th), and UT's Lucas Gordon (2.74, 3rd) and Hansen (2.78, 4th).

Offensively, Texas is also the only team in the Big 12 with a batting average that tops .300. Baylor has scored 39 times over the course of its current four-game winning streak.

Baylor at Texas

Friday-Sunday, UFCU Disch-Falk Field, LHN, 104.9

Friday (6:30 p.m.) — UT LHP Pete Hansen (6-1, 2.78) vs. Baylor RHP Will Rigney (2-1, 4.42); Saturday (1 p.m.) — UT RHP Tristan Stevens (4-4, 4.37) vs. Baylor LHP Kobe Andrade (3-1, 3.20); Sunday (1 p.m.) — UT LHP Lucas Gordon (3-1, 2.74) vs. Baylor LHP Tyler Thomas (4-3, 1.97)