The Longhorns entered Tuesday’s game with a gloomy demeanor and their worst record through 20 games in over a decade.
But a springtime revival by the Texas offense drove away the grey skies and propelled the Longhorns to an easy 11-2 home victory against UTSA with quality pitching and an eight-run barrage in the sixth inning.
“Sometimes when that kind of thing has started for us, we become our own worst enemy, and you get overaggressive and kind of get it stopped ourselves sometimes,” head coach Augie Garrido said. “But we showed a lot more patience. That’s a huge step for us.”
Well-placed bunts coupled with a smattering of walks gave Texas a pair of runs in the first two innings and gave the offense an early infusion of confidence.
The defense was responsible for keeping UTSA in the game. A fruitless dive by sophomore center fielder Patrick Mathis led to a leadoff triple in the second that led to a run, and a fumble in the right fielder corner by freshman Brady Harlan led to another Roadrunner tally in the fourth.
The defensive struggles, though, were limited to those two plays. Sophomore catcher Michael Cantu flashed his top-tier fielding ability in the third inning by firing a dart from his knees to catch UTSA freshman second baseman Bryan Arias stealing, and junior center fielder Zane Gurwitz made a fantastic play at second to nab right fielder Skyler Valentine later in the inning.
“Those are the kind of plays we have to make defensively,” Garrido said. “We have that capacity, we have that ability, and we need to get it done at the right time.”
The Longhorns’ pitcher-by-committee approach minimized the early UTSA runs and kept the visiting bats silent for most of the game.
“We’ve got so much talent in that bullpen,” junior third baseman Tres Barrera said. “It’s good to see them come out here and have success. Success builds confidence.”
Seven pitchers, most of them relievers, combined to hold the Roadrunners to just those two runs and keep Texas afloat until UTSA imploded in the sixth inning.
The Longhorns opened the frame with eight straight baserunners, including five walks and two infield singles, and scored six runs before getting a single out. An RBI groundout and a single by Barrera capped off the eight-run frame and made the score 10-2 Texas at the start of the seventh inning.
“We just kept passing on the torch, and it broke open,” Barrera said. “If we can keep doing that, that’s how we’re going to score runs.”
Barrera sealed the dominant victory in the eighth inning with his first home run of the season. The junior blasted a hanging curveball over the left field wall and out of the stadium to make the final score 11-2 Texas.
“The monkey’s off my back,” Barrera said. “I knew eventually it was going to come.”
The Longhorns will return to action and begin conference play Thursday at 6 p.m. in Austin against the TCU Horned Frogs.