Brandon Workman

Texas catcher Cameron Rupp connects on a two-run home run in the LonghornsÂ’ 13-3 win over Nebraska on Sunday.

Photo Credit: Bobby Longoria | Daily Texan Staff

All week long, Texas worked on cutting down on strikeouts and putting the ball in play with two strikes.

The Longhorns didn’t produce on Saturday, losing 5-3 to Nebraska and scattering eight strikeouts — three looking — to fall short of what could have been their second come-from-behind win in a row.

Sunday was a different story.

Texas’ offense exploded with 13 hits to take down the Cornhuskers 13-3 in eight innings, highlighted by a six-run rally in the third inning caused by three infield hits, two walks and a two-run home run from Cameron Rupp.

“That inning was the turning point in the game, and it came at a great time because they were closing in on us,” head coach Augie Garrido said. “They were on a roll and we rallied to put five guys on base that struck out yesterday.”

The Huskers were on a roll because of senior right fielder Adam Bailey, who was absolutely lethal at the plate all weekend long for the Huskers. Bailey hit .636 for the series with seven hits, two home runs and 6 RBI.

“I’m glad he’s going back to Nebraska,” said Brandon Workman, who pitched a complete game Sunday. “He hit everything we threw up there, — fastballs up, curveballs away, he hit it all.”

After giving up one run in the first when Bailey doubled to left center scoring Kale Kiser, and two runs in the third when Bailey’s single drove in Kiser and DJ Belfonte, Workman settled down to throw five scoreless innings on only two hits.

“Of the three starters, Workman had the best presence and was the most relaxed,” Garrido said. “[He] was really on his game, and his team needed it because losing early makes it harder.”

Workman got a lot of help from his offense, who had a team meeting before Sunday’s game to talk about playing loose and having fun at the plate. The Horns hit 19 balls hard and beat out six infield hits to keep innings going and kept the Nebraska defense off balance.

“We talked about staying focused and staying in the game to keep the intensity up,” center fielder Cohl Walla said.

Texas won two of three against Nebraska thanks to a walk-off home run from Rupp on Friday night to win 6-5. With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, freshman pinch hitter Jordan Weymouth ripped a double down the left field line in his first at-bat as a Longhorn. Keyes followed with a walk before Rupp sent the first pitch he saw up and into the 20-mph wind blowing to right field, sending 7,240 fans at Disch-Falk Field into celebration.

“I told the team, ‘That was a piece of cake,’” Garrido said. “There’s too much excitement, surprise, drama and too many magical things not to feel the joy. This game lets the hitters know they are never out of it.”

“I knew it was gone without a doubt,” Rupp said. “It felt like the world was lifted off my shoulders.”
 

As expected, the Longhorn baseball team has relied heavily on pitching this season to take control of games while waiting for hitting to follow along.

It happened in Houston last weekend after the Horns failed to muster a single run to accompany Brandon Workman’s near-flawless eight innings on the mound. They came back Sunday against Missouri with a 12-hit, eight-run performance, trying their best to imitate the Horns’ pitching staff in their success.

“Offensively we want to be confident and hit like our pitching staff,” first baseman Tant Shepherd said after Sunday’s win against Missouri. “They come out every day and know they are going to do good and throw strikes.”

Still, the Longhorns haven’t been able to consistently perform at the plate over the past week and a half. They needed a pair of bases loaded and two out balks to beat UT-Pan American 3-2, and they had to have some late-inning heroics from pinch-hitter Paul Montalbano on Tuesday to take down Texas State 4-3.

“They found a way to grind it out and fought against adversity,” head coach Augie Garrido said. “We’ll find our niche hitting and have a run at the plate, but right now these close games are about building confidence.”

Texas’ pitching staff is leading the way right now with a combined ERA of 2.10 and a defense that has only committed six errors in 12 games.

“We all knew it was about pitching and defense,” Garrido said. “Disch-Falk is a defensive ballpark. The offense will catch up as it moves along.”

Texas will have its chance at the plate this weekend with a four-game series against Iowa. The Horns play a game tonight, a double-header Saturday and finish up with a game Sunday afternoon.

The Hawkeyes are coming to Austin swinging the bat well, hitting .320 as a team with a .469 slugging percentage, seven home runs and 66 runs scored.

The Horns hope to continue their dominance on the mound, starting with Taylor Jungmann tonight. Jungmann (2-0) leads Texas with a 0.83 ERA in 21.2 innings and 26 strikeouts.

Jungmann’s last start was a no-decision in the Horns’ 2-1 victory against Rice.

“Taylor is a thinker and has his own style,” Garrido said. “He picks the hitters he wants to face and pitches he wants to throw. He has a plan and he knows how to use it.”

With the double-header, Cole Green and Brandon Workman are scheduled to start Saturday with freshman Hoby Milner finishing up the series Sunday.

Texas is 2-0 all-time against Iowa, but the two haven’t played each other in 80 years. And like Tuesday — and almost every other opponent Texas has faced this season — the Hawkeyes are coming in with something to prove.

“Everyone we play doesn’t have much to lose, and there is a great advantage in that because you play so much more relaxed,” Garrido said.