After a series sweep with little offensive production, Texas’ bats started early Tuesday.
To lead off the first inning, junior left fielder Ben Johnson ripped a ball through Prairie View A&M third baseman Connor Wrye’s legs to open up the game for Texas. Although Johnson’s hit was scored an error, it was the spark for Texas’ offense, which scored three runs in the first inning and plated another nine runs in a 12–4 win over the Panthers.
“[My lead-off at-bat] set the tone early,” Johnson said. “Obviously we want to score a lot of runs, and we did that tonight. That’s the goal every game. I think it was one of those things, no matter what the situations was, we were going to keep putting it on them.”
But it wasn’t easy sailing for the Longhorns. Texas’ sophomore starting pitcher Josh Sawyer produced a solid outing until he ran into trouble in the fourth inning.
Sawyer hit the leadoff batter and walked the next to start the inning. But the sophomore made his biggest mistake when he threw a ball over the head of redshirt freshman third baseman Bret Boswell, attempting to throw out the leadoff runner on a bunt.
The error allowed a run to score and was the first run in the Panthers’ biggest inning. Prairie View A&M drew three more walks in the inning and scored four runs to tie the game at 4–4.
The Longhorns answered in the bottom frame as senior right fielder Collin Shaw started the inning with a leadoff walk and then stole second base. Johnson singled Shaw home and Texas took a 5–4 lead that it would not surrender.
“After we had that walk in the park in the fourth, the offense continued to stay focused and that was a really a good sign – the fact that they didn’t panic or come out of character,” head coach Augie Garrido said.
Texas’ offensive onslaught continued in the sixth inning when Johnson opened the inning with his second base hit of the ball game and a steal — a season-high eighth of the game. Sophomore center fielder Zane Gurwitz followed with a walk, and sophomore catcher Tres Barrera scored Johnson to push the lead to 7–4. Texas added another run in the inning off a sacrifice fly from freshman shortstop Joe Baker.
Senior second baseman Brooks Marlow added the Longhorns’ final runs in the ninth with a two-run bomb that barely missed the Taco Shack “Free Taco” sign in the right field bullpen. Longhorn senior pitcher Ty Marlow finished off the game, and Texas secured its 23rd win of the season to move a game above .500 before its weekend matchup with Texas Tech.
“Every win is important,” Baker said. “We just wanted to get out there and take care of things like we should’ve all year. We had a down year but it was good to get out there and get a win. Hopefully it’ll propel us in the next series.”
Despite the four run fourth inning, the Texas pitching staff only allowed one hit. Freshman pitcher Jake McKenzie earned the win after relieving sophomore pitcher Jon Malmin in the fourth inning.
The Longhorns will play their final home series starting Friday against the Red Raiders.