That’s what Texas head coach Augie Garrido wants to see out of his team, and that’s what he got Wednesday night against Houston Baptist. The Longhorns (16-5) needed only seven innings to blank the Huskies 12-0.
The run-rule game was a far cry from the two extra-inning games Texas won last weekend against Kansas State. Houston Baptist played Sam Houston State the night before, and it showed in their slow defensive start.
“They probably will think twice about scheduling back-to-back games,” Garrido said. “No one in college baseball has the pitching to handle that many innings in a row in that short of period in time. That caught up to them.”
Texas pitcher Sam Stafford improved to 3-0 on the season, giving up two hits and striking out six batters in four innings. Stafford ran into some trouble in the third inning, surrendering a single and a walk after striking out the leadoff batter. The junior got second baseman David Pfuntner to ground into the 6-4-3 double play and end the threat.
“I have true confidence in my defense to throw strikes and not worry to strike everybody out, because I know my defenders are going to make the play,” Stafford said.
It took only nine pitches for the Texas offense to get on the board in the first inning. Mark Payton laid down a sacrifice bunt that scored Brandon Loy, and Lucas Kephart doubled to right center field to score Tim Maitland. Maitland, who started for only the third time this season, finished 1-3 with two runs, two RBIs and a walk. Texas hitters walked seven times in the game.
“We have this approach where we’re looking for one pitch and we focused on that game plan today and it paid off,” Maitland said.
Texas scored six runs in the third inning, aided by five Husky walks, two hit-by-pitches and two errors. The Longhorns took advantage of Houston Baptists’ mistakes, and weren’t looking to press things on offense.
“We just took care of the small things and they all added up and got us runs,” Maitland said.
Jordan Etier continued his hot streak by going 2-for-3 and scoring two runs, while driving in another. Etier’s average hovered above .200 for most of the season, but in the last two weeks has seen it increase to .271, good enough for third on the team.
“Right now, he’s probably the hottest hitter on the team,” Garrido said.
Etier hit sixth in the batting order instead of his usual ninth spot. Garrido moved him up to see if the change would affect him mentally, which it did not.
“I’ve been present in the box and really focusing on the baseball, just calming things down, and that’s been going good for me,” Etier said. “I felt like momentum was going good, and everyone else was hitting the ball, so I had to, too.”