rubber match

Photo Credit: Jonathan Garza | Daily Texan Staff

It was an unlikely hero who helped the No. 12 Longhorns knock off No. 24 Texas Tech in the rubber match to end the conference series and losing streak at 12: senior designated hitter Madison Carter. Carter had only four at-bats on the year before the game but went 3-for-6 Sunday with the game-winning RBI in the top of the 12th to seal the win. 

While run-scoring had been at a premium for the Longhorns (22-7, 3-3 Big 12) earlier in the season, the bats came alive in Lubbock against the Red Raiders (22-9, 4-5 Big 12), who boast the conference’s second-best pitching staff.

Texas’ offense looked sluggish early on Friday, relying on junior second baseman Brooks Marlow to keep it in the game. Marlow’s first homer of the year tied the game at one before the Texas offense erupted in the fifth to break the game open at 5-1.

The Longhorns scored in every inning from there on out, piling it on the Red Raiders, 11-1.

Marlow went 4-6 with three extra base hits to spark the offense. Senior center fielder Mark Payton, freshman catcher Tres Barrera and junior right fielder Collin Shaw recorded two hits apiece as well. Barrera and Payton each had three RBIs.

On the mound, junior Parker French (4-2) went seven innings, allowing just six hits and one run, to lower his season ERA to 1.57.

In game two in Lubbock, junior Dillon Peters’ worst performance of the year doomed the Longhorns 8-4. Dillon’s ERA went up nearly a full run from 1.79 to 2.68.

Peters failed to get out of the fourth inning, giving up five earned runs while throwing three wild pitches.

Freshman Zane Gurwitz and Barrera did all they could to keep the Longhorns in it. Barrera, who was hitting just .128 on March 11, went 3-for-5 with his first career home run while Gurwitz went 4-for-4 from the nine hole to help set up the top of the lineup.

With the series tied 1-1, it came down to the rubber match to see whether the Longhorns would end their conference losing streak.

Riding the hot bats of sophomore left fielder Ben Johnson and Barrera, the Longhorns struck first Sunday on a Barrera RBI single in the first. Texas added another on Johnson’s home run in the third.

It appeared to be more than enough for senior pitcher Nathan Thornhill, who shut down the Red Raiders (22-9) in 5.1 innings.

But sophomore pitcher John Curtiss, who had won the closer role with 10.2 shutout innings on the season, blew the two-run lead in the ninth on a steal home and an RBI single. It was the first runs he’s allowed since returning from a surgery that sidelined him last season.

After two scoreless extra innings, the Longhorns finally came through on Carter’s two-run, two-out single. The Longhorns sealed the 5-2 win.

At 22-7, Texas is off to its best start in the first 26 games since opening 22-4 in 2005.

Junior pitcher Nathan Thornhill throws towards the mound in the Longhorns’ loss to West Virginia. Thornhill retired the first nine batters he faced and lasted six innings before getting pulled. He gave up five hits and three runs while striking out five.

Photo Credit: Shweta Gulati | Daily Texan Staff

The Longhorns dropped the rubber match to West Virginia, 6-3, in 10 innings, dropping their eighth consecutive Big 12 series on Sunday afternoon. The game was tied at 3 going into the 10th inning before junior Corey Knebel gave up three runs to put the Longhorns in a hole going to the bottom of the frame. Texas was able to get two on but couldn’t push a run across to even the score.

“This was probably even more disappointing than usual,” junior Mark Payton said after the game. “We have had our ups and of course our downs, but we have got to be more consistent at the plate. I mean, our pitchers pitched lights out all weekend.”

Knebel, who pitched his longest stint this season at 3 1/3 innings, took the loss to fall to 3-3 on the season. Junior Nathan Thornhill started on the mound for Texas and pitched six innings, surrendering three runs on five hits.

The game was scoreless through the first three innings before West Virginia started the scoring off with a run in the top of the fourth. Texas and West Virginia then traded off runs through the next three innings to even the score at three before defense took control again for another three scoreless frames to send the game to the tenth.

In the top of the 10th, Knebel walked two with one out before West Virginia’s Billy Fleming hit an RBI single to put the Mountaineers up 4-3. Knebel walked another before giving up a two-run single to put the game further out of reach. Ty Marlow came in with one out in the 10th to relieve Knebel and got the final two outs.

In the bottom of the frame, West Virginia walked junior Erich Weiss and gave up a single to freshman C.J Hinojosa to bring the tying run to the plate with no outs. Payton came in to clean up but popped out to shortstop on a full count. Freshman Jeremy Montalbano followed by flying out center field.

Marlow came up as the last chance for the Longhorns but hit a soft grounder straight to the first baseman to end the game.

“We really did have our chances to win the game. In the eighth I think we could have won it there,” Texas head coach Augie Garrido said. “I think we should have won in the ninth had we executed properly.”

On Friday night, sophomore Parker French pitched a solid game for the Longhorns, but a sacrifice fly off of Knebel in the eighth gave the Mountaineers the 1-0 series-opening victory. On offense, the Longhorns couldn’t get anything going and were blanked for the third time this season.

After dropping the first game of the three-game series, the Longhorns came back and dominated in Game 2 on Saturday afternoon. The Texas offense put up 12 runs off 14 hits against a struggling West Virginia pitching staff. Junior Jacob Felts and Marlow each contributed a career-high four RBIs in the win.

The Longhorns will face Houston on Tuesday before heading to Waco for a three-game series this weekend against Baylor.

Another Big 12 series slipped through the Longhorns’ fingers Sunday afternoon. Texas dropped the rubber match to Kansas, 4-3, on Sunday, dropping two of three games to the Jayhawks this past weekend. 

All three games were decided by one run as the Longhorns (19-15, 4-8) are now 9-7 in games decided by one run this year.

In game one, the Longhorns pushed the Jayhawks to 12 innings with the score tied at six before dropping the contest, 7-6, off a walk-off RBI single with two outs. 

The Texas offense was productive in the series opener. Both Ty Marlow and Ben Johnson each had solo home runs in the second. Three straight hits by Erich Weiss, Mark Payton and C.J Hinojosa followed to put the Longhorns up, 4-0. The Jayhawks battled back in the third inning, getting two runs before taking the lead in the fifth with a two-run home run. Texas tied it up twice to force the game into extra innings. 

The Longhorns evened the series on Saturday afternoon with a 2-1 victory over Kansas in game two. Sophomore Dillon Peters pitched a complete-game surrendering one run off six hits. Payton scored first for the Longhorns off a walk in the second before playing Brooks Marlow in the third for the 2-0 advantage. The Jayhawks struck back in the seventh with an RBI double to cut the Longhorns lead to 2-1, but were unable to mount a comeback. 

In Sunday’s series finale, the Longhorns had a chance to take their first conference series since beating Kansas twice in three games last April. Texas got up early with an RBI single in the top of the first from Hinojosa before Kansas responded in the third to tie the score. A two run fourth inning by the Jayhawks gave them the lead. Texas came back in the fifth with two runs, consisting of an RBI single by Weiss and a sacrifice fly by Ty Marlow to tie the game. 

The Jayhawks got the go-ahead run in the sixth thanks to two errors by the Longhorns defense. Texas struggled in the field Sunday afternoon, committing three errors that resulted in several runs. Junior Nathan Thornhill threw nine innings for the Longhorns and grabbed the loss to fall to 2-3 on the season. 

The Longhorns will host UT-Pan American on Tuesday night at 6 p.m. Texas beat UT-Pan American 6-1 in their last meeting March 5.

The Longhorns forced a rubber match against Texas Tech with a 2-1 win over the Red Raiders in game two Saturday afternoon. With the score tied at one, junior catcher Jacob Felts came up big with a walk-off double in the bottom of the ninth to plate junior Madison Carter for the victory.

“It was an exciting win after last night’s difficult defeat, especially to be on the other side,” said Texas head coach Augie Garrido. “It makes everyone feel a whole lot better and more confident.”

In the bottom of the ninth, Carter was walked with one out to bring Felts to the plate. Felts, who had struck out in the bottom of the ninth on Friday night during a rally, hit a fly ball to center field. The Red Raiders were unable to get the out, allowing Carter to get the score.

Sophomore Dillon Peters started out on the mound for the Longhorns going eight innings with seven strikeouts and one run off of five hits. The seven strike-outs was a career high for Peters. Junior Corey Knebel came in to close for Peters in the ninth with one out and the bases loaded. Knebel struck out two straight batters to eliminate the threat from the Raiders and get the win to move to 2-1 on the season

On offense, the Longhorns outhit Texas Tech 7-5. Junior Erich Weiss went 3-for-4 with an RBI. Weiss plated Weston Hall who reached on a single to left field on the first pitch of the game by the Red Raiders. The Longhorns ended Trey Masek’s 32 1/3 scoreless inning streak with the run in the bottom of the first.

“It was awesome,” Peters said. “Both teams were into it, there was good defense on both sides. We stuck to our gameplan, we hit the balls hard and got a lucky one at the end. We all did what we were working for all week.”

With the series tied 1-1, the Longhorns will face Texas Tech Sunday afternoon at 1 pm to decide the outcome.