Dillon Peters

Thanks to a combined shutout by junior pitchers Dillon Peters and Parker French, No.22 Texas remained undefeated in the 2014 Big 12 Tournament after defeating No.11 Oklahoma State, 3-0, on Thursday night.

Peters (7-3) pitched the first five innings for the Longhorns, allowing four hits in five innings of work. French relieved Peters in the top of the sixth, pitching four scoreless innings while allowing just one hit to record his first save of the season.

Freshman first baseman Kacy Clemens was the star of the game at the plate, batting in all three of Texas’ runs. Clemens also made impressive plays with his glove, particularly on a difficult throw from Peters in the top of the fourth.

The Longhorns struck first in the bottom of the second when Clemens hit home senior designated hitter Madison Carter.  They threatened again in the fourth and seventh, but were unable to get a run across despite two runners on base.

In the bottom of the eighth Texas put a couple of insurance runs on the board, after loading the bases with one out. Clemens hit a hard single to the shortstop, whose errant throw to second base allowed a second Texas run to score on the play.

Senior centerfielder Mark Payton extended his on-base streak to 93 games, tying a Big 12 record after reaching base three times in four plate appearances.

The Longhorns are next scheduled to play at 12:30 tomorrow and will take on the winner of tonight's game between Oklahoma State and Oklahoma. The Longhorns will only need to win once on Saturday to advance to the Championship on Sunday.

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.

Photo Credit: Sam Ortega | Daily Texan Staff

No. 18 Texas didn’t even need a hit in the bottom of the ninth to walk-off against Stanford (2-4). They loaded the bases on walks, and with two outs, Stanford Michael Brakeman threw a wild pitch as Connor Shaw scurried home to give Texas the 4-3 walk-off win Saturday afternoon.

“It was a good walk-off,” junior starter Dillon Peters said, who went seven innings, allowing two runs. “Both teams battled to the very end.”

The rest of the game was pretty ordinary for a Texas baseball game. Senior outfielder Mark Payton kept hitting while the starting pitching kept pitching well.

The Texas offense got off to a quick start, putting up two runs in the first. After a leadoff walk to junior second baseman Brooks Marlow, Payton roped a single to right. An error and RBI groundout pushed home the two upperclassmen to open the scoring.

It looked as though those two were all Peters would need.  While the Texas offense struggled to push runs across, the lefty was rolling. Through the first six innings, Peters needed just 58 pitches. But then the seventh inning came around.

“I threw alright until the seventh,” Peters said.

With the bases loaded and two outs, Stanford’s nine-hole hitter, sophomore outfielder Zach HoffPauir, pulled a single to left to tie the game, ruining an otherwise tremendous performance from Peters.  

But it didn’t take long for Payton to make his presence felt again. Facing lefty reliever Logan James with two outs and runners at first and second in the bottom of the seventh, the left-handed hitting Payton rifled a 3-2 pitch up the middle to drive in sophomore outfielder Ben Johnson.

“He’s confident,” head coach Augie Garrido said. “He thinks he has them right where they want him.”

For Payton, that was his seventh hit in the series in eight at-bats to run up his season average up to .621.

“I don’t pay attention to it. Not at all,” Payton said, deflecting attention away from his torrid start. “I’m keeping it simple and finding pitches to hit.”

Texas (5-2) then brought in senior Nathan Thornhill (2-0), but after 1.2 scoreless endings Friday night, Thornhill surrendered a two-out, game tying double in the bottom of the eighth. But he worked his way out of a leadoff single in the nine, to put him in line for the win—and the Longhorns came through in the ninth.

After two walks, none other than Payton came to the plate. This time, though, they pitched around him, loading the bases with two outs for CJ Hinojosa. Brakeman (0-1) quickly got ahead of Hinojosa 0-2, but a 1-2 pitch got away from Brakeman and Shaw came home for the walk-off.

“He’s never been in that situation,” Garrido said of Stanford’s freshman pitcher. “He’s never had the experience pitching in front of a crowd. He didn’t have control of his environment and we won the game.”

Texas returns to UFCU Disch-Falk Field on Tuesday night for the home opener as it looks to find its groove at the plate against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (2-2).

Run scoring was a premium last season for the Longhorns, who finished last in the Big 12 with fewer than four runs per game.

“Things didn’t fall our way last year,” said senior outfielder Mark Payton, who led the team in hitting last year. “This is a new season, though.”

So far this year, it’s the same problem. The Longhorns couldn’t muster a run against Cal’s opening day freshman starter over the weekend. Then, in the following game, Texas only pushed one run across, spoiling a gem by junior starter Dillon Peters.

Only Payton, sophomore shortstop C.J. Hinojosa and freshman first baseman Kacy Clemens recorded a batting average above .218 over the weekend. The five-through-nine slot in the batting order is hitting a measly .167 with more strikeouts than hits. But head coach Augie Garrido doesn’t care about the batting average.

“We are taking emphasis off batting average and putting it on run scoring, the true way to win,” Garrido said. “We want guys to keep the rally alive.”

Unfortunately for Garrido, 19 strikeouts and three double-plays aren’t a good way to keep the rally alive — although it’s just an early sample size — but, if the trend continues, run scoring will be a major problem again.

So far, the starting rotation is, once again, the strength of the team.

If finishing No. 7 in ERA last season and returning the weekend rotation didn’t catch college baseball’s attention, Texas’ weekend performance did.

“Those guys all know how to pitch at the college level,” Payton said. “They are good workers and know what it takes to get the job done.”

The weekend trio of senior Nathan Thornhill and juniors Peters and Parker French went 20 innings, surrendering no earned runs.

“I’m really excited to see what we can do as a pitching staff,” Peters said. “There’s not a lack of confidence in our pitching staff.”

But despite a .33 starters ERA, Texas left Cal after splitting the four games, partly because of six errors, accounting for seven unearned runs. Garrido saw this becoming a problem earlier in the year.

“We are far behind in terms of bunt defense,” Garrido said before the season, bringing light to the two errors on bunts.

When the Longhorns take the field tonight against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi at 6 p.m., they will look to hit their stride at the plate and sure up their defense. But the starting pitching gives them a good base.

“[Our starters] give us confidence and something to build upon,” Garrido said.

Game One: Starter Parker French set a career high with seven strikeouts and allowed just one run in more than seven innings. The Texas offense was unable to provide any run support, though, as Harrison Musgrave pitched a complete-game shutout while striking out nine to lead West Virginia to a 1-0 victory. 

Game Two: The Longhorns put together back-to-back five-run innings in the fourth and fifth en route to a 12-0 victory. Jacob Felts and Ty Marlow each recorded four RBIs, and left-hander Dillon Peters struck out six in eight scoreless innings to pick up his fourth win.

Game Three: Closer Corey Knebel pitched three scoreless innings before allowing three runs in the 10th to West Virginia in Texas’ 6-3 extra-innings loss. The Longhorns recorded just four hits in the game, with only two coming after the fifth inning. 

By The Numbers
5: Consecutive batters to reach base against Knebel in a three-run 10th inning Sunday
9: Number of batters starter Nathan Thornhill retired to begin Sunday’s game
4: Combined runs allowed by Texas starting pitchers in 21 1/3 innings in three games against West Virginia
1: Number of triples needed by Mark Payton to break into Texas’ all-time career top ten for triples. After his triple in Sunday’s game, the junior stands at 12 during his three seasons at Texas. 

Stock Up: 
Jacob Felts drove in a career-high four runs Saturday, with three of them coming on his first home run since 2011. The catcher added a double on Sunday and has reached base in four of his last six plate appearances.

Stock Down:  
Weston Hall struck out three times and grounded into a double play Sunday after an 0-for-5 effort on Saturday. Hall is hitless in his last nine at-bats and has just two hits in his last 16 at-bats.
The Longhorns take on Houston at 6 p.m. at UFCU Disch-Falk Field on Tuesday night. Texas dropped the first match-up against the Cougars this season, 4-3, on March 19 in Houston.

Stock Up: 

Starting Rotation: The series against Oklahoma this past weekend turned out to be a low-scoring pitching duel. The Texas rotation starters kept pace all weekend with the Sooners’ staff, which sits atop the Big 12. Despite getting the loss in Game One on Friday night, sophomore Parker French had a strong showing while surrendering only two runs off five hits.

On Saturday, sophomore Dillon Peters pitched perhaps the best game of his collegiate career, turning in seven no-hit innings before finishing with only two hits in the shutout victory. On Sunday, Nathan Thornhill pitched a one-run, four-hit seven innings, fanning seven batters, tying his career high. Junior Corey Knebel, however, gave up three runs in the eighth to give the lead away. 

Stock Down: 

Erich Weiss and Mark Payton: The two juniors have been the top offensive performers for the Longhorns all season. However, both Weiss and Payton turned in sub-par performances against the Sooners this past weekend. Despite being responsible for the Longhorns’ only two runs on Sunday afternoon with a two-RBI triple, Weiss went 3-for-12 against the Sooners, striking out seven times. Payton went 1-for-8 through three games with three strikeouts.

Weekend Breakdown:

Game One: Pitcher Jonathan Gray had a dominating game on the mound for the Sooners on Friday night in the 2-1 Game One Oklahoma victory. Gray had eight strikeouts and frustrated the Texas offense all evening. Sophomore Parker French was handed the loss after surrendering a run in the first and another in the sixth. The Longhorns’ only run of the ball game came in the third when freshman Mark Gottsacker scored on a wild pitch.

Game Two: The defensive battle continued as the game remained scoreless through five innings before a single by freshman Ben Johnson scored Gottsacker to put the Longhorns up permanently 1-0. Sophomore Dillon Peters pitched a solid game from the mound, producing seven no-hit innings before giving up two in the eighth. Junior Corey Knebel came in during the bottom of the eighth to get his seventh save of the season.

Game Three: Thornhill started for the Longhorns and pitched seven innings surrendering only one run and striking out seven. Knebel came in to close with the Longhorns up 2-1, but gave up three runs in the top of the eighth to hand Texas the 4-2 game three loss as well as the series loss. The Longhorns’ only two runs came in the third off a two-RBI triple by Weiss.  

Stats:

6: Straight conference losses for the Longhorns. The last Big 12 series picked up by Texas was a 2-1 victory over Kansas back in April of 2012.

7: Thornhill had seven strikeouts Sunday afternoon, which tied a career-high for the right-hander.

.389: Junior Mark Payton is currently hitting .389, down from .410 at the beginning of the month.

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. 

C.J Hinojosa did it again.

For the second time this year, the talented freshman shortstop came up big at the right time for the Longhorns. With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Hinojosa hammered a fastball to deep right field to plate junior Erich Weiss with a walk-off double. The Longhorns beat UC-Santa Barbara, 3-2, to grab the series victory. Texas, who won Friday's series opener over UCSB, will look for the sweep Sunday afternoon.

“I think it is testimony to his maturity. I keep referring to him as an old soul, but I’m convinced he has played this game in the sky in another lifetime,” head coach Augie Garrido said. “He let the pitches go that he wasn’t looking for and in a very calm and mature way stayed zeroed in on the zone.”

On Friday night, behind sophomore Parker French on the mound, the Longhorns logged a 5-1 victory to take game one. Junior Mark Payton went 2-for-3 Friday with two RBIs.

Sophomore Dillon Peters started on the mound for the Longhorns. Peters gave up two runs on two hits before junior Ty Marlow relieved him in the sixth. Marlow, who surrendered only one hit, earned his first for the Longhorns after tossing 3.1 scoreless innings.

At the plate, Weiss continued his recent hot streak, going 2-for-3 with one RBI and two runs scored. Hinojosa finished 2-for-5 with one RBI. Texas finished with eight hits to UCSB’s three. The Longhorns had three doubles and two triples for the afternoon after struggling to record extra-base hits over the past few weeks.

“It’s awesome. It shows that we can’t just rely on one person and that the whole team has to be involved,” Weiss said. “It shows that we all want to win and have the drive to win.”

The Longhorns will take the field looking for the sweep Sunday afternoon against the Gauchos at noon. Junior Nathan Thornhill (1-1, 2.16) will to start on the mound for Texas.

Highly touted freshman shortstop C.J Hinojosa started strong in his first series with the Longhorns, batting .545 with two extra-base hits in three games against Sacramento State last weekend. Despite already committing three errors this year, Hinojosa should be a serious contributor both offensively and defensively for Texas. 

Photo Credit: Jonathan Garza | Daily Texan Staff

After kicking off the season with a series win over the weekend, the Longhorns will look to pick up their third victory of the year Tuesday against the UT Arlington Mavericks.

Texas (2-1) will send freshman Chad Hollingsworth to the mound for his first career start. The right-hander, who made his collegiate debut as a reliever on Saturday, went 13-2 with a 0.50 ERA and 139 strikeouts in 97.1 innings as a senior at Robinson High School in Waco last season.

Hollingsworth will attempt to match the performances of starters Parker French and Dillon Peters over the weekend. French pitched seven scoreless innings and struck out five players to pick up the win Friday, while Peters allowed just two runs in seven innings during Sunday’s victory.

The Texas lineup will also look to continue its strong play, as it recorded at least 10 hits in each of its first three games. Junior Mark Payton has responded well to batting cleanup, as he hit .583 with three runs and five RBIs over the weekend. Freshman shortstop C.J Hinojosa also made a nice impression in his Longhorns debut, batting .545 with a pair of RBIs and a run scored.

Head coach Augie Garrido was pleased with the Longhorns’ start to the 2013 season.

“Well it wasn’t a sweep but it was, I think, good baseball by both teams,” Garrido said. “I think that a lot of good things were done by both teams throughout the weekend. Both teams hit the ball frequently and hard and put pressure on the defenses.”

UT-Arlington also had a successful opening weekend, as the Mavericks swept Louisiana Tech. They scored 20 runs in the three games of the series, and five players batted at least .375 against the Bulldogs.

Tuesday’s game is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. at UFCU Disch-Falk Field

Outfielder Mark Payton takes his turn at bat during the Longhorns’ victory Sunday against Sacrament State. Texas won the series with the Hornets 2-1. 

Photo Credit: Chelsea Purgahn | Daily Texan Staff

Everything that plagued the Longhorns in Saturday’s loss seemed to go right for them on Sunday.           

Texas used a combination of timely hitting and strong starting pitching to defeat the Sacramento State Hornets by the score of 6-3 to clinch the rubber game of its season opening series.

Starting pitcher Dillon Peters overcame a shaky first inning and pitched seven efficient innings, allowing just five hits and two runs. After hitting and walking the Hornets’ first two batters to lead off the game, the left-hander was able to make adjustments and effectively pitch to contact throughout the afternoon.

“You don’t really focus on mechanics out there,” Peters said. “I just came in the dugout and worked on working it down and staying on target.”

The Texas lineup had a much improved day in the series finale, recording 11 hits and knocking Hornets starter Zach Morgan out of the game after just three innings. The Longhorns scored at least once in each of the first four innings Sunday, and head coach Augie Garrido believed that this was important in allowing Peters to settle in to the game.

“Any time a pitcher sits on the bench and watches the offense score runs, he feels a lot more confident and he doesn’t feel like if he gives up one run then he’s going to lose the game,” Garrido said. “When they go out there thinking they can’t give up a run is when they overpitch, walk guys and get out of rhythm.”

Right fielder Mark Payton continued his hot hitting with a pair of hits, including an RBI single in the first inning to give Texas its first run. The junior, who had seven hits in 12 at bats over the weekend, also added a triple to leadoff the third inning and scored on an RBI groundout by third baseman Madison Carter.

The Longhorns scored two runs in the second inning on a pair of bunts by Weston Hall and Taylor Stell with runners on third base. Stell went 2-3 on the day with a stolen base and would add another RBI on a sacrifice fly in the fourth inning.

Texas closer Corey Knebel picked up his first save of the season after pitching the eighth and ninth innings for the Longhorns. The right-hander, who failed to record an out in Friday’s game, allowed one run on a solo home run and struck out two batters.

The Longhorns took the first game of the series 6-5 behind seven shutout innings from Parker French. Sacramento State won Saturday’s contest 5-3, as Texas struggled to find offensive consistency and saw starting pitcher Nathan Thornhill last just 3.2 innings.

Texas’ next game comes Tuesday when they host UT Arlington at UFCU Disch-Falk Field at 6 p.m. The Mavericks swept Louisiana Tech in their season opening series over the weekend.

Published on February 18, 2013 as "Horns outlast Hornets in debut".