For three games, the Longhorns looked like a resurgent squad, ready to use elite pitching and clutch hitting to snatch a four-game series win against Stanford.
But on Sunday afternoon, Texas was unable to make much out of their early chances. The Longhorns ended up dropping an 11-1 contest and missing out on their second straight series win.
The trend of three games of great pitching ended in the first inning.
In the opening frame, Texas sophomore pitcher Connor Mayes surrendered two walks and a pair of two-out singles to hand the Cardinals an early 2-0 advantage. With two outs and a runner at third, the sophomore balked another run across the plate before getting Stanford freshman Brandon Wulff to tap into an inning ending groundout.
“I just don’t want to let my teammates down,” Mayes said. “It’s not a good feeling. I knew after that first inning that I just had to go out there and keep them at that, and I was proud of the way I kept them at that.”
The Longhorns, backed by Mayes’ rebound over the next three innings, mounted a decent counter in the opening frames — but not enough to catch the surging Cardinal offense.
Texas put runners in scoring position in each of the first four innings, but never looked very confident at the plate with two outs. The Longhorns managed just one run, thanks to sophomore outfielder Travis Jones’ fourth inning triple off the right field wall that made the score 3-1 Stanford.
But in the sixth inning, Texas’ hopes of a series win were scattered into the wind.
After a double to left by Wulff, Stanford catcher Bryce Carter whipped a grounder off the glove of freshman reliever Nick Kennedy to plate another run.
With two outs and a man on first, Kennedy coaxed leadoff man Tommy Edman into a towering fly ball to left and it looked like the inning would end with minimal damage. But a gust of wind guided the ball just past the glove of a backtracking Travis Jones for a two-run double that gave Stanford a 5-1 lead.
Texas was unable to regain any momentum after the miscue.
“We had it yesterday, they had it today, and it just kept building,” junior center fielder Zane Gurwitz said. “We just gotta turn the page today.”
The young bullpen surrendered another six runs, including a three run blast off the bat of Stanford senior Jonny Locher in the ninth that put the seal on the 11-1 onslaught.
Despite the poor final act, and injuries to outfielders Patrick Mathis and Tyler Rand, the prevailing sentiment after the four-game series was one of optimism for the future.
“We learned a lot of things about our team and I think it was productive for us,” Gurwitz said. “We’re tougher than we think. Even though our starters aren’t up we have our guys coming in and just doing their job.”
Texas will travel to San Marcos to play Texas State on Tuesday at 6 p.m. In the meantime, head coach Augie Garrido isn’t going to let the loss get to him or the players.
“The nuances of baseball are so subtle that it changes the results so dramatically over one pitch or one play,” Garrido said. “You can never really get control of all these variables that are involved with the game.”