Chase Shugart

Photo Credit: Katie Bauer | Daily Texan Staff

In a four-game tilt that began with promise, Texas lost the series finale to No. 7 Stanford in embarrassing fashion on Sunday afternoon at UFCU Disch-Falk Field. The Longhorns got pummeled, 11-1.

After winning the first game of the series on Thursday night, the No. 23 Longhorns (9–7) dropped three straight to Stanford, their longest losing streak of the young season.

“We’re embarrassed right now,” Texas head coach David Pierce said. “We had great fan support all weekend and we just didn’t play well. You can’t get by with mistakes and opportunities when they arise against good teams. We didn’t capitalize on anything all weekend.”

As in the previous two games, Stanford snatched the momentum in the first inning. An error by the Longhorns allowed the Cardinal’s leadoff batter to reach first, and junior pitcher Chase Shugart proceeded to give up a single. Two batters later, Shugart gave up a deep home run to left field, a blast that stole the life from a packed Disch-Falk Field and gave Stanford a 3-0 lead.

Texas never recovered. The Longhorns failed to reach base until the seventh inning and finished with a season-low two hits.

“I thought their pitcher pitched well, but we were very undisciplined at home plate,” Pierce said. “We had a really poor approach for the type of weather we were playing in. That’s the bottom line.”

Things got ugly in the sixth. In a poor showing on the mound, the Longhorns shuffled through three different pitchers and gave up six runs on only two hits. In total, there were five walks, two wild pitches and a hit batter in the inning.

Pierce was disappointed in his team’s lack of composure after trailing early.

“It seems that when we’re down by three, guys start panicking,” Pierce said. “When things are going well, they need to stick with it, and when we struggle, they need to get back to their discipline and get back to the things that made them good. That’s my biggest message to them.”

The blowout loss ends a series that started on a high note. In Thursday’s series opener, Texas scored in six of eight innings and rode its bats to an 8-6 victory. Four Longhorns had multihit games, and freshman pitcher Nico O’Donnell had another solid showing.

But the Longhorn bats went quiet the rest of the weekend against a dominant Stanford pitching staff. On Friday, Texas was stifled in a 7-1 loss, scoring their lone run late when the game was already out of reach.

On Saturday, Texas had a series-high three-run fourth inning. But the team was shutout in the other eight frames, in what turned into a runaway 9-3 win for Stanford.

Texas’ starting pitching didn’t fare much better against the Cardinal as the weekend progressed. Junior pitcher Nolan Kingham and sophomore pitcher Blair Henley both gave up five earned runs in six-inning starts. Overall, the Longhorns gave up 33 runs in four games, by far their most in a series.

“First, I will credit Stanford for fighting off some tough pitches,” Pierce said. “I think you have to be able to pitch them in late, and we just didn’t get the ball in. The bottom line with our pitchers, when we throw quality pitches, the goal is to be able to repeat that. We just didn’t repeat our best pitches.”

Texas will try to shake the sting off the series loss as it prepares for a quick turnaround. The Longhorns head to Fayetteville on Tuesday to take on Arkansas in the first of a two-game series.

Pierce’s message was simple as the team heads out of town.

“Regroup,” Pierce said. “Get back to trusting yourself. We just got done with playing one of the better teams in the country. We have to learn from them and take it personally.”

Texas and Northwestern were practically equals in the hitting department Friday night, and the Longhorns walked twice as often. But the Wildcats took advantage of runners on the bags — something the Longhorns failed to do — and that proved to be the difference in a 6-2 loss for Texas.

The Longhorns left 10 runners on the bases, while Northwestern left only four.

“We need to work better as a team together,” redshirt junior catcher Michael McCann said. “We got runners on base early and we pop out and roll early and we don’t get the runners in. We start out hot, but we don’t capitalize. It’s really frustrating and we have to grind out at bats early.”

Northwestern struck first. After getting through his first three batters unblemished, junior pitcher Chase Shugart walked a Wildcat to open the second. After Shugart gave up his first hit of the contest, Northwestern singled to score the game’s first run.

But like they’ve done at home all season, Texas was quick to rally back. In the bottom of the third, sophomore outfielder Duke Ellis hit a single to send McCann to second after McCann had walked. After a Northwestern error loaded the bases, McCann scored on a groundout to first from junior Kody Clemens.

But the wheels fell off for Shugart and the Longhorns in the fifth. The pitcher hit two batters in the frame and gave up a pair of hits. Northwestern capitalized on the junior’s control issues and jumped out to a 3-1 advantage.

The Longhorns added a run in the bottom of the fifth, but Shugart’s continued issues would keep the game out of reach. Against the first batter of the sixth, Shugart gave up a monster home run to left field. He then surrendered a single and, following an error and a wild pitch, the runner reached third. A batter latter, Northwestern recorded a sac-fly to extend its lead to 5-2.

“When (Shugart) got the ball down, he was really good,” head coach David Pierce said. “But when they had (runners on base), his peripheral couldn’t handle the running game and he got the ball up. Once he got the ball up, (Northwestern) took advantage of it.”

The Wildcats added another run in the ninth inning, and the Longhorns never threatened any further.

Texas finished with seven hits but struggled with strikeouts. The team struck out nine times compared to only five walks. Redshirt freshman infielder Zach Zubia paced the offense, finishing 2-for-3 with an RBI and also reached on a walk.

The starting pitching for the Longhorns was shakier than it has been for most of the season. Shugart surrendered five earned runs and gave up six hits. However, the relief put forth a solid outing, with freshman Bryce Elder and redshirt junior Josh Sawyer combining for three two-hit innings.

Texas will get multiple shots at redemption tomorrow, when they take on the Wildcats in a Saturday double-header. The first game is schedule for 1:30 p.m. at UFCU Disch-Falk Field.

“We’ve got three games in two days and they’ve got all the momentum,” Pierce said. “We need everybody to be ready and do their job when they’re called on. Tonight, we just didn’t get it done, and it’s that simple.”

Photo Credit: Katie Bauer | Daily Texan Staff

BATON ROUGE, Louisiana — It was almost impossible to think a game could sting as bad as the opening game of the LSU series Friday night, when the Longhorns were blown out, 13-4.

Texas seemed to be out of it from its first at bat, with little chance of a comeback. It was just all-around bad baseball.

Saturday night’s game at Alex Box Stadium/Bertman Field may have stung just as bad.

This time, though, in a very different way. After Texas jumped out to a 5-0 lead, it looked to be in a position to cruise to victory. But LSU did not go away. The No. 23 Tigers rattled off 10 unanswered runs to beat the No. 19 Longhorns, 10-5.

“We shouldn’t have been in that position,” Texas head coach David Pierce said. “We can’t have our focus disappear in the middle of the game in one inning and let it snowball on you. Leadership has to take over there.”

Texas (3–3) started the game flawlessly through 4.5 innings. The Longhorns smashed the ball with ease, hitting their spots precisely and fielding like a professional ball club. But in the bottom of the fifth, Texas lost its bearings.

Texas’ starting pitcher, junior Chase Shugart — who performed near-perfectly through his first four innings — lost his stuff. LSU rattled off hit after hit, aided by a costly couple of miscues from the Texas defense.

“I thought (Shugart) was as tough as he’s been through the first four,” Pierce said. “When he got into the fifth and a couple of things didn’t go our way, I thought the team lost focus, including Chase. Instead of making quality pitches, he started pitching a little behind and started feeding their bat.”

Once the Tigers smelled blood, they went for the kill shot. After tying Texas’ five runs, LSU added five more over its next three innings. Texas was unable to stop the bleeding, subsequently giving the game to LSU who turned and ran with it.

The Longhorns’ offense failed to scratch another run. Texas looked like a completely different team than it had shown to be earlier in the game.

But there were still plenty of bright spots from the game for Texas. Redshirt freshman DH Zach Zubia finally found his power stroke, hitting two home runs on the day — his first two of the season.

“Yesterday we swung at a lot of balls that were out of the zone,” Pierce said. “Today we were much better, and when we got pitches we were really good with them early. Zach had a lot of success because of that.”

Sunday’s game, the final of the series between Texas and LSU, begins at 1 p.m. The Longhorns hope to avoid the sweep.

Photo Credit: Katie Bauer | Daily Texan Staff

Louisiana-Lafayette might want to think again about pitching to Austin Todd.

In a 3-3 contest in the bottom of the ninth inning, the Ragin’ Cajuns intentionally walked junior third baseman Kody Clemens in order to get to the outfielder.

Todd felt disrespected — and he let everybody know.

The junior proceeded to belt a walk-off homer over the left-field wall, giving Texas a dramatic 5-3 victory, the Longhorns’ second consecutive win to start the season.

“I love when I have to play with a chip on my shoulder and when people don’t respect what I can do,” Todd said. “As soon as I hit it, I knew it was gone. This is my first-ever walk-off, and this is one of my favorite feelings I’ve ever had playing baseball.”

Todd was the savior of a team that looked to be on the verge of a collapse. Leading 2-1 heading into the ninth inning, Texas unraveled, surrendering two runs to the Ragin’ Cajuns.

But the Longhorns returned to the dugout convinced that they still had the game in hand. Sophomore outfielder Duke Ellis got the rally started with a single to start the bottom of the ninth. He was knocked in by junior infielder Masen Hibbeler. Two batters later, Todd launched the shot that sent the Longhorn faithful into a frenzy.

“The resiliency of this team was outstanding today,” Texas head coach David Pierce said. “After a brutal top of the ninth, guys had to execute and get things done. Nobody said, ‘Oh no, here we go.’ We just kept playing.”

Louisiana-Lafayette got the game’s scoring started, getting its first run of the series in the first inning. The frame began with an error by Clemens, whose errant throw to first allowed the Lafayette leadoff hitter to reach second on a slow roller down the left-field line.

Two batters later, junior pitcher Chase Shugart surrendered an RBI double to right field.

But the Longhorns did not trail for long, tying the game in the bottom of the first. In an inning with no hits, the team relied on the legs of sophomore infielder David Hamilton to manufacture a run.

Hamilton led the inning off with a walk and proceeded to steal second. The shortstop then darted to third after a passed ball and found his way home after beating out a play at the plate following a grounder to first.

Texas took its first lead in the fifth inning. Hamilton got things started with a single up the middle and, again, stole second. Clemens knocked in the run with an RBI single to the right two batters later to give the Longhorns a 2-1 advantage. That score held up until the wild ninth inning.

After a strong performance from junior pitcher Nolan Kingham on Friday night, the Longhorns’ starting pitching continued to shine. In 6.2 innings of work, Shugart finished with no walks and zero earned runs, allowing only three hits along the way. This was Shugart’s first career start for the team.

“I really commanded the fastball well today,” Shugart said. “After watching Nolan (Kingham) dominate with his fastball last night, I came into here with the attitude of, ‘Here it is, see if you can beat me.’”  

If the Longhorns continue their trend of strong pitching and resilient hitting, the team will be tough to beat. Texas will go for the series sweep of Louisiana-Lafayette on Sunday at UFCU Disch-Falk Field, with the first pitch scheduled for 1 p.m.

Photo Credit: Anthony Mireles | Daily Texan Staff

A dreary, overcast afternoon couldn’t keep the Longhorn faithful away from UFCU Disch-Falk Field on Saturday as fans gathered for the annual Alumni Game, a part of Texas baseball’s fan appreciation day. The game featured former Texas alumni, now affiliated with Major League Baseball organizations, squaring off against the current Longhorn roster.

Ex-Longhorns in the Major Leagues in attendance included Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Corey Knebel and MLB free agent Drew Stubbs. Other alumni included players fresh off of Texas’ 2016-17 campaign.

“It’s an honor to go out there and be able to throw against guys like Drew Stubbs and Mark Payton and the other guys I’ve played with (at Texas),” junior pitcher Chase Shugart said. “It’s fun to see the tradition that the University has and the players it brings out and the major league players it has.”

The contest pitted the “Gray” squad versus the “Orange” squad, with the former made up of the Longhorn alumni. Alumni would play in the first three innings of the game, being subbed out for current Longhorn players the remaining four innings.

The ex-Longhorns were shutout during their time on the diamond, managing only four hits. With the score locked at zero in the bottom of the fourth, junior catcher DJ Petrinksy, playing for the Orange, broke the game open with a solo home run. Sophomore infielder Ryan Reynolds hit a two-run dinger in the seventh to put the exclamation point on a 3-0 shutout victory for the Orange.

A slew of six pitchers for the Orange dominated the Gray squad, walking just two batters and allowing no hits after the professional players were pulled. Shugart was given the win, throwing two clean innings with three strikeouts.

Head coach David Pierce was enthusiastic about the pitching performance, highlighting the underclassmen.

“I thought we really pitched well,” Pierce said. “We have some younger guys that need to be three or four-pitch guys. They’re not throwing the ball 92 or 95 (miles per hour), but they can pitch well and their best pitches really came out today.”

The most memorable moment for the Gray squad came in the top of the sixth, when former Texas pitcher Travis Duke made a surprise plate appearance adorned in jeans and cowboy boots. After striking out, Duke staged a confrontation with the home plate umpire, drawing laughs and cheers from the crowd.

“Travis Duke is hilarious,” Reynolds said. “I wish I got to play with him. He’s always up here and he’s just hilarious.”

While the contest lived up as a fun event for spectators, it also doubled as a chance for the Longhorns to get live game action and hone in as the regular season approaches.

Pierce said the batters’ hitting must improve as the team heads towards opening day. On Saturday, current Longhorns managed only five hits in seven innings.

“Hitting is such a work in progress and it’s such a confidence thing,” Pierce said. “We hit too many fly ball outs today. We’ve got a tough schedule and we’re going to play teams with some really good arms. We’re going to be facing the best pitchers in the country, so we still have work to do.”

The Longhorns now have less than two weeks to shore up their hitting and make any other preseason adjustments. The season opener against UL-Lafayette is slated for Feb. 16.