Texas opened their 2019 campaign with a successful opening series against Louisiana by taking two of the three games in front of a very passionate Ragin’ Cajuns fanbase.
“We come on the road here, you’re never pleased after a loss but at the same time it’s the right way to start and win the series,“ Texas head coach David Pierce said in a post-game interview with Texas Sports.
This weekend, the pitcher’s mound in Lafayette saw 13 different Longhorns, some much more successful than others.
In the first outing, pitcher Bryce Elder subdued the Cajun offense. In the span of nine innings, he had zero walks and racked up nine strikeouts, including three in the fourth inning. Elder left the Longhorns in the ninth inning with a score of 1-0.
Though the Cajuns were able to force extra innings after tying the game in the bottom of the ninth inning, the Longhorns quickly responded with a two-out, two-run double by right fielder Austin Todd. That would end up being the difference in the game, as pitcher Mason Bryant secured the save in the bottom of the 10th inning.
Game two of the series experienced much more scoring early on. The second inning alone combined for nine runs between the two teams. Outside of the early scoring outburst, the main theme in game two was the effort of the Texas bullpen.
The aforementioned Texas bullpen recorded six consecutive shutout innings before an unearned run in the ninth inning ruined their chances at a perfect afternoon.
It was the freshmen bats of shortstop Bryce Reagan, left fielder Eric Kennedy and second baseman Lance Ford that ignited the Texas offense in game two. The trio combined for five hits, three runs batted in and three runs scored.
Game three saw pitcher Coy Cobb’s three-inning freshman debut. In the end, he tallied four hits, four runs and two walks. As he walked off the hill, the Longhorns were down 3-1.
Following Cobb’s departure, the Longhorns saw a string of some young, but all unsuccessful pitchers. Those who followed Cobb accumulated five walks, three hits and four runs.
“We just gotta keep pitching,” Pierce said. “We just gave them way too many pitches and hitters counts and that was the difference.”
In the sixth inning, the Longhorns saw their final pitcher, Matteo Bocchi. With an 8-1 deficit against him, Bocchi carried the defense through a quick inning that made its way to a four-run comeback in the seventh inning.
Bocchi’s ability to shut down the Cajun offense made for an exciting ninth inning, when the Longhorns were in perfect position to cut the deficit. A base hit was the only thing Texas needed to tie up the game after Todd put the Longhorns up 8-6 after a bases-loaded walk.
But the Cajuns’ closer easily shutdown pinch-hitter Tate Shaw, ending the game at the top of the ninth.
“You just look back at game three and we didn’t do the things (we needed) to win the game,” Pierce said.
Five of the six pitchers Louisiana saw Sunday did not do the things Texas needed. However, even though most of the Longhorn pitchers got time on the mound, their inexperience and inconsistencies almost cost them in every game.
Pierce will have to begin to settle into a couple of pitchers in order to succeed this season.
Texas will hit the road again Tuesday, this time traveling to face Rice with first pitch set for 7:00 p.m.