Taylor Stell

Junior outfielder Ben Johnson knew the Longhorns need to be ready for Stanford’s experienced pitching staff.

Photo Credit: Joshua Guerra | Daily Texan Staff

Three times the Longhorns had the bases loaded — and each time, the Longhorns finished the inning with zero runs.

Meanwhile, Stanford drilled two home runs of its own as Texas struggled to capitalize with runners in scoring position, leading to a 5–3 Longhorn defeat in Palo Alto on Thursday night.

After Stanford (8–6) took the lead on back-to-back doubles in the bottom of the second, junior outfield Ben Johnson launched a two-run home run to left field to give No. 12 Texas (8–5) a 2–1 lead in the top of the third.

The Cardinals came back in the bottom of the inning, striking on a three-run home run by freshman third baseman Mikey Diekroeger to take a 4–2 lead. Stanford added another in the following inning on a solo home run by junior designated hitter Austin Barr.

Johnson pulled the Longhorns back to within two runs with a solo home run in the top of the fifth.

Texas had a chance to tie and take the lead in the ninth. Junior shortstop C.J Hinojosa led off the inning with a double and then scored on a wild pitch with two outs. Two walks and a single then loaded the bases for junior designated hitter Taylor Stell.

But Stell’s line drive on an 0–2 count was snagged by the second baseman to end the game.

The rest of the team struggled to capitalize on run-scoring opportunities. Texas went 3-for-20 with runners in scoring position, although only Johnson’s first home run resulted in a run scoring. The team also left 11 batters on base.

The Longhorns had the bases loaded with only one out in the top of the fourth; however, sophomore center fielder Zane Gurwitz and Stell each struck out to squander the opportunity. Texas had bases loaded again in the top of the sixth after three consecutive walks but failed to capitalize as senior right fielder Collin Shaw struck out to end the inning.

Junior starting pitcher Chad Hollingsworth, making his first start in almost two weeks, went five innings, giving up six hits and three walks in addition to the five runs.

The loss is the third-straight defeat after the Longhorns had won seven-straight games.

Texas and Stanford will square off at 8 p.m. tonight before finishing the series with games Saturday and Sunday afternoon.

Payton's solo shot, diving grab lift Longhorns to series win over Oklahoma State

For the third straight weekend, Texas went into the final contest of a three-game series having split the previous two games. Not only that, but the Longhorns had won one and lost the other one of those two rubber matches.

So the fact that Texas and Oklahoma State were tied going into the eighth inning should not have been all that surprising. The Longhorns and Cowboys were in a similar spot Friday evening, when they were tied at 1-1 until the 11th inning.

This time, sophomore right fielder Mark Payton, who saved two runs from scoring with a diving catch earlier in the game, broke a 2-2 tie with a solo home run in the eighth inning. After junior pitcher Hoby Milner tossed a scoreless ninth inning to pick up his second save of the season, No. 23 Texas (20-13, 9-3) secured its fourth straight Big 12 series win with a 3-2 victory, its second of the day over Oklahoma State (18-16, 5-7).

Freshman Ricky Jacquez was tagged for two runs in the first inning after giving up two hits and issuing two walks in the first frame. He bounced back nicely after that rocky start, striking out six in four innings and working out of jams in each of his last two innings of work.

"The game could have been 6-1 or 8-1 after three innings without him pitching out of those situations," said Texas head coach Augie Garrido. "It was a long day. They competed for 18 innings and they were pretty consistent."

Sophomore third baseman Erich Weiss' RBI double in the bottom half of the first inning cut Oklahoma State's lead in half at 2-1. Then, freshman center fielder Taylor Stell raced home after Weiss was thrown out on a safety squeeze bunt attempt in the third inning to tie the game at 2-2. Stell, who went 2-for-5 between the two wins Saturday, was also hit by a pitch three times.

"I didn't really feel like I was crowding the plate but they just kept hitting me and I kept getting on base," Stell said. "If he's going to throw it inside, you just let it go off your arm. It hurts for a little bit but it's a way to get on base."

Payton made the first of two crucial plays in the next inning. Jacquez gave up a leadoff double and issued a one-out walk after a sacrifice bunt advanced the leadoff batter to third base. With two outs and Cowboys baserunners at second and third, Oklahoma State catcher Jared Womack lifted a ball to shallow right field. Payton sprinted to it, leapt, and snagged the ball while his fully-extended body, parallel to the turf, was still airborne.

"I thought I could make an aggressive play in the outfield and I was lucky enough to come up with it," Payton said. "I got a pretty good jump on it and was lucky enough that the wind was blowing to left field."

Payton took advantage of that wind Friday night with a double off the left field wall in the eighth inning. But he was stranded on second and Texas eventually lost the series opener, 3-1, in extra innings. Payton, again in the eighth and again with one out, launched a ball toward the same place, but this time around, the ball cleared the left-field wall.

"He's pretty clutch," said freshman pitcher Parker French, who threw eight scoreless innings in the first game of Saturday's doubleheader. "He always seems to square up the ball in big moments. He's awesome. He's tough to face. He's a tough out."

Freshman Taylor Stell helped Texas reclaim the lead on Tuesday when he hit the ball into right field, allowing Mark Payton to score in the seventh inning.

Photo Credit: Skylar Isdale | Daily Texan Staff

The Longhorns squeaked out their third straight win Tuesday night after holding off outs in crucial moments at bat.

Texas racked up five hits in 12 two-out at-bats and scored its first three runs with two outs in a 4-2 victory over Central Arkansas (16-21, 10-11)Tuesday at UFCU Disch-Falk Field. The No. 20 Longhorns (24-14, 11-4) were tied at 2-2 at the seventh inning stretch before freshman Taylor Stell drove in sophomore right fielder Mark Payton, who tripled the previous plate appearance with an RBI single — all with two outs.

“The two-out hits were the difference in the game today,” said Stell, who was 1-for-3 that night. “The previous two at-bats hadn’t really worked out well, but I was seeing the ball good. I just tried to square it up and hope that it would find a hole.”

After a throwing error by shortstop Jordan Etier, the first of three that day by the senior, the Bears drew first blood in the top of the fourth inning, but Texas got the run back in the home half of the frame. Sophomore first baseman Alex Silver, sophomore catcher Jacob Felts and freshman second baseman Brooks Marlow all singled with two outs in the fourth inning as Silver scored to tie the game at 1-1.

“When you get two quick outs, you still have a third of your life left,” Silver said. “If someone gets a hit in front of you, it kind of clicks in your mind that it’s not that hard. If everyone’s hitting, it helps the next person in line.”

The Longhorns were at it again in the next inning as sophomore third baseman Erich Weiss hit into a potential inning-ending double play. But Central Arkansas sophomore shortstop Kraig Kelley made a throwing error of his own after Stell was forced out of second base, allowing senior center fielder Tim Maitland to give Texas its first lead of the contest at 2-1. “To get the runs that they need, in the way they got them, when they got them does show the right spirit,” said Longhorns head coach Augie Garrido. “They weren’t doing that before. They couldn’t get out of that rut.”

A bizarre sixth inning ensued as freshman John Curtiss allowed an RBI single to the first batter he faced after replacing sophomore Kirby Bellow on the mound. Etier’s second throwing error erased any chances of Texas turning a double play to end the threat, loading the bases with one out. Felts’ pickoff attempt at third base skipped by Weiss into left field as the Bears appeared to regain the lead, 3-2.

But home plate umpire Branden Padgett called interference on the Central Arkansas batter, junior third baseman Garrett Brown, who was called out. Curtiss struck out the next hitter to end the inning, eventually earning his second win of the season after Payton’s and Stell’s heroics in the following frame.

Texas also got a good effort on the mound from freshman Dillon Peters, who allowed two runs in just one inning of work against Kansas on Sunday. Peters did not allow an earned run, surrendering two hits, in 3.2 innings, his longest career outing. Sophomore closer Corey Knebel, two days after picking up a seven-out save, pitched two scoreless innings to get his eighth save of the season.

Stell, who was hit by a pitch while squaring around to bunt in the fifth inning, suffered an injury to his meniscus, said Garrido after the game. After a single in his final at-bat in the seventh inning, Stell, who served as the designated hitter Tuesday night, was replaced by pinch-runner Christian Summers. Garrido will have a better idea as to the extent of Stell’s injury following an MRI, although Stell insists he will play this weekend against Texas A&M.

“It’s hurting a little bit,” Stell admitted. “But I’ll be playing. If I’m in the lineup, I’ll be playing. I’ll just deal with it and figure it out after the season.”

Printed on Wednesday, April 25, 2012 as: Longhorns capitalize on two-out hits

Jordan Etier sparked UT’s fifth inning rally against Kansas on Sunday with the Longhorns’ first hit of the game.

Photo Credit: Andreina Velazquez | Daily Texan Staff

Texas head coach Augie Garrido has no idea where it came from, but the Longhorns’ fifth inning rally, which broke up a no-hitter, was timely and turned the flow of the ballgame 180 degrees.

“The offensive rally kind of came out of nowhere,” Garrido said. “But that’s typical of no-hitters, though; you’re going so well and one thing happens and the domino drops out of nowhere.”

In this case, the domino was a Jordan Etier single up the middle, but that only came after four innings of solid pitching from Kansas starter Thomas Taylor.

The first time through the lineup, the Texas hitters weren’t making much happen, they were making weak contact and the only base runners in the four innings came off a trio of walks. Taylor was a little wild with his location, and the Texas hitters were working long counts, but they just weren’t making good contact.

That all changed in the fifth inning.

In the beginning of the fifth, it looked like more of the same for the Longhorns as freshman Brooks Marlow quickly grounded out. But from there, a combination of timely hitting and patience at the plate resulted in a Texas lead.

The rally started with a Kevin Lusson five pitch walk, but even then Taylor had yet to give up a hit. That all changed on the very next pitch when Texas’ nine-hole hitter, Etier, smoked a line drive up the middle. It broke up the no-hitter and, more importantly, gave Texas multiple base runners for the first time all game.

“Jordan’s hit really did get things going for us, it was key,” sophomore Erich Weiss said.

Next up was Payton, and he did what he has done all season long — get on base. He reached first on a five pitch walk, his third of the game.

After that, freshman Taylor Stell strolled up to the plate with the bases loaded, and lifted a bloop single that went just over the shortstops’ glove for the first Texas run of the game.

Then with the bases loaded, Weiss opened up the flood gates with a hard hit ball into right field for a run scoring double on a ball that almost left the yard for a grand slam.

After that, Jonathan Walsh added the fourth run of the inning with a deep sacrifice fly to right field that allowed Stell to tag up from third and score.

So if Garrido doesn’t know what happened to start up the rally, who does? Etier had a pretty good solution: toughness at the plate and the willingness to grind out at bats.

“We just continued to fight and grind it out,” Etier said. “There was a lot of gut during those [at-bats], and that’s what brought it around for all of us.”

Printed on Monday, April 23, 2012 as: Etier ends UT drought, sparks fifth inning rally

Sophomore Mark Payton extended his streak to 30 consecutive games reaching base this season. He went 2-for-4 and scored twice.

Photo Credit: Rebeca Rodriguez | Daily Texan Staff

The days of the Longhorns pitching staff carrying the team are over.

Each of the first four players in the Texas lineup came into this week with batting averages above .300 and all four of those batters saw their batting averages go up after the No. 23 Longhorns’ (18-12, 7-2) 9-2 win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (13-19, 6-9) at UFCU Disch-Falk Field Tuesday night.

After their first 14 games, only six of which resulted in Texas victories, the Longhorns’ team batting average was a mere .214. In its 16 games since then, Texas has scored 7.6 runs per game after averaging only 3.3 runs per game after starting 6-8 while raising that batting average to .282.

“Everything’s clicking,” said Longhorns head coach Augie Garrido.

Against the Islanders, the Longhorns had their way at the plate in the first four innings. Despite stranding eight runners in those initial four frames, Texas held a commanding 6-1 lead going into the fifth inning and had even racked up a dozen hits before A&M-Corpus Christi could retire a dozen Longhorns hitters. But Texas would finish the game with 12 hits as it was held hitless in the last five innings.

After a leadoff single in the first inning, sophomore right fielder Mark Payton extended his streak to 30 consecutive games reaching base this season. Payton, Texas’ leadoff hitter, went 2-for-4 and scored twice, setting the tone for what would be an explosive offensive night for the Longhorns.

“Those first couple of innings really showed what we can do and how we really need to play the rest of the year,” Payton said. “It’s a turning point in the season.”

Freshman center fielder Taylor Stell, making just his ninth start of the year, made significant contributions from the No. 2 spot in the lineup. Stell singled, doubled, walked and laid down a sacrifice bunt in the first inning that allowed Texas to draw first blood. Stell has picked up multiple hits in three of his last four games, raising his batting average from .250 to .360 over that stretch.

Reigning Big 12 Player of the week, sophomore third baseman Erich Weiss, drove in that first run and stayed white-hot at the plate. After going 10-for-17 in Lubbock this past weekend, the Brenham product went 3-for-4 with three RBIs. Weiss struggled a bit during the beginning of the season, but has bounced back beautifully as he boasts a team-leading .588 slugging percentage and .370 batting average, 22 points higher than his .348 mark a year ago, which also led the Longhorns.

“When I wasn’t doing too hot at the beginning of the year, I just told myself that I need to keep looking forward and it’ll find holes and it has,” Weiss said. “We’re all hitting very well right now.”

Junior designated hitter Jonathan Walsh, batting from the cleanup spot, went 2-for-5 with a pair of RBIs, although he did strike out twice, including once with the bases loaded and no outs in the eighth inning. Walsh isn’t far behind Weiss, as he’s posted a .352 batting average so far this year.

It’s hard to believe, after a performance like this one, that the Longhorns were so unproductive offensively in the beginning of this season. Texas has made huge strides at the plate over the course of the year and if they continue to improve, the Longhorns will be tough to beat down the stretch of the regular season and in the postseason.

“It isn’t who starts out the best, it’s who finishes,” Garrido said. “Can we get there? That’s the challenge. They’re better than they were than when we saw them in the beginning.”

In his ninth start of the year, Taylor Stell went 2-for-3 with two runs, one walk one double and one sacrifice bunt in Texas’ route of Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. The team had12 hits in the first four innings and took a 6-1 lead over the Islanders.

Photo Credit: Rebeca Rodriguez | Daily Texan Staff

The top of the Texas order shined as the Longhorns pushed across six runs in the first four innings, and the early output was enough to allow them to cruise to a 9-2 victory over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Tuesday.

“We had four good innings,” said head coach Augie Garrido. “We took the momentum from the Saturday’s game (a 14-3 victory) and came right in here with the same spirit and did the same kinds of things that we did in Lubbock.

The top four hitters in the Texas lineup: Mark Payton, Taylor Stell, Erich Weiss and Jonathan Walsh went a combined 9-for-16 at the dish and really gave the offense a boost. All four had key hits that started, sustained or capped off rallies in the beginning stages of the game.

“We’re just working counts and finding ways to fight each at bat and battle, to have your best chance to get on base,” Payton said of the top of the order.

Payton exemplified that idea of battling to get on base ­— which he has done all season, as he has reached base one way or another in all 30 games. He had his moments in the first and fourth innings as a table setter.

In the first inning, he began the game with a sharp single up the middle and he eventually scored later that inning after a sacrifice bunt and a single plated him. He made his impact in the fourth with a perfectly placed one out bunt single right down the third base line. The textbook bunt allowed him to serve as the leadoff runner once again, and he was the catalyst for the three run burst Texas enjoyed in the frame.

Stell, who saw playing time in left field to allow Walsh a night of rest as the designated hitter, performed well in his opportunity. In the first four innings alone, Stell had two hits and a key sac bunt. His rope of a double down the left field line in the third inning was the beginning of a two run frame that put Texas up by three.

Weiss and Walsh did exactly what the three and four-hole hitters are supposed to do — send the runners that are on base home. The pair combined for five RBIs in the victory, and both seemed to come up with a clutch hit with runners in scoring position whenever it was needed.

After the first four innings, the Longhorns bats fell into a lull, but the pitching was good enough to pick up the slack.

Five Texas pitchers saw the mound and starter Dillon Peters was solid in his three innings, allowing just one hit and no runs. John Curtiss and Parker French each pitched two innings of long relief and combined to allow only one run and four hits — all off of Curtiss in the fourth.

The staff ran into a bit of trouble in the eighth when Austin Dicharry came into the game, as he allowed four straight Islander runners to reach base, cutting the game to a four run deficit. But Texas was quick to pull Dicharry in favor of Hoby Milner, who came in with the fire hose, and induced three quick outs to extinguish the A&M-Corpus Christi rally.

“We got some quality pitching,” Garrido said. “Dillon Peters was good, Hoby was outstanding, Curtiss had a rough first inning but came out and had a good second inning and Parker French did the same thing.”

After Milner worked the team out of the jam, the bats responded by pushing across three more runs in the bottom of the eighth to seal the game.

Men's Baseball

Corey Knebel prepares to hurl a pitch against California last weekend. Corey Knebel fanned six of the seven batters he faced in two innings to earn his sixth save of the season and the 25th of his career.

Photo Credit: Pu Ying Huang | Daily Texan Staff

Coming into Thursday, it had been nearly a month between Nathan Thornhill’s last two wins — victories over Rice and California. But, thanks to an offense that went from nonexistent to lethargic in the fifth inning, the sophomore picked up victories in consecutive starts for the first time this season after beating the Golden Bears last week and the Red Raiders last night.

Each of the first 13 Longhorn hitters were retired by Texas Tech starting pitcher, sophomore Trey Masek, but the Texas lineup bounced back in a big way. After more than four innings of offensive futility, the Longhorns put 12 of their next 15 batters on base and held a 6-3 lead after the sixth inning, despite trailing 1-0 after the fifth inning. Thornhill gave up a three-run homerun in the fifth inning, but was good enough to improve to 4-2 on the year as No. 25 Texas (16-11, 6-1) took down Texas Tech (17-14, 2-8) 7-4 in Lubbock Thurdsay night.

Freshman second baseman Brooks Marlow’s one-out walk in the fifth inning broke up Masek’s perfect game campaign and freshman designated hitter Taylor Stell’s RBI single later in the frame broke up Masek’s no-hit and shutout bids. Later in the fifth inning, senior shortstop Jordan Etier drew a bases-loaded, four-pitch walk to give the Longhorns their first lead at 2-1.

The Red Raiders took that lead right back by capitalizing on a triple from junior second baseman and leadoff hitter Jamodrick McGruder and an intentional walk drawn by junior center fielder Barrett Barnes. Another junior, first baseman Scott LeJune, deposited a 1-2 changeup from Thornhill over the right-field wall for a three-run homerun, giving Texas Tech a 4-2 advantage.

Another lead change took place in the top of the sixth inning when sophomore right fielder Mark Payton led the frame off with a walk.

“When you walk leadoff guys, and when you walk guys, they usually score,” Red Raider associate head coach Tim Tadlock said. “Leadoff guys usually score. [Texas has] a history of being real good of getting guys over and getting guys in and that’s what they did today.”

Sophomore third baseman Erich Weiss followed with an infield single while freshman left fielder Collin Shaw laid down a sacrifice bunt that moved Weiss and Payton to second and third base. Freshman second baseman Brooks Marlow took advantage of the runners in scoring position, delivering a two-run single that tied the game at 4-4. Then, sophomore first baseman Alex Silver and Stell each hit RBI doubles that gave the Longhorns a 6-4 lead that they would not surrender.

Thornhill allowed five hits and four runs over six innings of work, with four of those five hits being of the extra-base variety. A pair of third-inning doubles allowed Texas Tech to score its first run before the three-run bomb in the fifth. After junior Hoby Milner tossed a scoreless seventh inning, Corey Knebel came in to seal the Longhorns victory.

Knebel gave up a two-out single in the ninth inning, but that was the only baserunner the Red Raiders had in the final two frames as the All-American sophomore closer lowered his ERA from 1.08 to 1.00.

Texas’ leading hitter, junior left fielder Jonathan Walsh was taken out of the game after running into the outfield wall, and replaced by Shaw, who Longhorns head coach Augie Garrido indicated would likely stay in the lineup Friday when Texas plays the second game of a three-game series against Texas Tech, also at 6:30 p.m. 

Baseball Review

Senior outfielder Tim Maitland celebrates with teammates after hitting the game winning walk off single in the bottom of the 12th inning. The Longhorns had just three hits in the first eleven innings.

Photo Credit: Pu Ying Huang | Daily Texan Staff

Despite a stretch where 23 out of 24 Texas batters failed to reach base, the Longhorns managed to pull off a 2-1 win in 12 innings over Dallas Baptist.

It wasn’t pretty, but for a team that has been struggling to get into the win column, they will take what they can get.

“Winning becomes so important when you’re losing, and I don’t care what anyone says; winning is mandatory,” said head coach Augie Garrido. “You can teach so much better when you’re winning because the players have confidence, and you can talk to them about what’s going wrong. As a coaching staff, we have to be extremely positive during these periods of time; it’s the only way out.”

The bottom of the 12th started off very similarly to how the rest of the game had been going with a bloop single off the bat of designated hitter Alex Silver that just managed to fall between the second baseman, the shortstop and the center fielder.

From there, hustle and a dose of Texas’ small ball eked out the win.

Freshman Taylor Stell came into the game to pinch run for Silver and immediately advanced to second base on a sacrifice bunt from Kirby Bellow. Senior Jordan Etier, who was 2-4 on the day, stepped into the box and was intentionally walked to set up the double play.

“That might be the first time he’s ever been walked intentionally,” Garrido said with a grin.

Then the top of the order came up and Mark Payton hit a slow grounder to the shortstop that looked like a sure double play, but Payton hustled up the line and beat the second baseman’s throw to first to keep the inning alive. This brought Tim Maitland to the plate and he delivered, hitting a sharp grounder into the hole between short and third. The shortstop fielded the ball but couldn’t get the ball to the first in time for the out, allowing Stell to score and end the marathon of a game.

The bats were quiet all day for both teams, with the only other runs scored in the game coming in the first inning for Dallas Baptist and the second inning for Texas.

However, Texas’ defense and pitching shined, allowing the team to get away with a poor showing at the plate.

Texas used six pitchers for the second Tuesday outing in a row, and the group performed beautifully. As a staff, they combined to allow only five hits in 12 innings of work and never really allowed the Patriot hitters to get comfortable in the box.

But it was the defense that really carried the team with a solid, all-around errorless effort. This is only the second time all season the Longhorns didn’t commit any errors in a game, and there were a couple of spectacular efforts made by infielders to save a hit here and there throughout the game.

“That’s how were going to have to play to play consistently on defense,” Garrido said. “That was probably our best performance defensively all year.”