The noon starting time was a bit earlier than the Longhorns are used to, but their bats didn’t take long to wake up.
In fact, Texas all but ended the game after just the first inning.
With two outs in the first frame, Erich Weiss and Lucas Kephart drew consecutive walks on full counts. Tant Shepherd fell behind 0-2 but battled his way back to 2-2, fouling off six pitches along the way. He then finally saw a pitch he liked and ripped it through the middle of the infield to score Weiss.
Then Jordan Etier followed suit, hitting an RBI-single to left on the second pitch he saw to score Kephart.
“We were working really well with two outs,” Etier said. “We were at home, we felt good, and we felt comfortable.”
Jacob Felts made the Longhorns’ 2-0 lead an even more comfortable 5-0, driving a 1-2 pitch into the left field foul pole, the freshman catcher’s first home run of his career.
“To come out here and jump on them early is always a great thing to do because it gets their confidence down,” Felts said.
Texas could have called it a day after its five-run first, four more than it’d need the entire game as Missouri managed just one run. But the Longhorns didn’t slow down, scoring five more runs to give them 10 total — their fourth-highest run total of the year.
“We didn’t sit on the lead; we didn’t let them back in the game,” said Texas head coach Augie Garrido. “We continued to grind out runs.”
Six of the Longhorns’ runs came when there were two outs, and three of their hits came with two strikes in the count.
“We worked on timing a lot this week,” Shepherd said. “We came through when there were two outs or two strikes, and we’ve worked on that.”
The quick start did a world of good for Texas. Batters were more relaxed at the plate with the lead, and hitting, as Etier said it, became “contagious.”
The pitching staff’s job was made easy, as starter Cole Green got to pitch with a whale of an advantage after the first inning.
“When the offense is scoring runs like that, it makes my job a lot easier,” Green said.
The first inning also killed the spirits of the Tigers, who only managed four hits in the game and committed two errors.
“Coming out here and jumping on [Missouri] early lowered their confidence,” Felts said.
A week ago, Texas managed only five runs all weekend against Oklahoma State in a 2-1 series loss. In their 2-1 win over Oral Roberts on Tuesday, the Longhorns scored two runs in the second inning but played the rest of the game on cruise control, getting just one more hit afterwards, for a grand total of three in the game.
So it’s safe to say Sunday’s 10-run, 12-hit performance comes at the perfect time.
“It’s a good sign,” Garrido said. “A good step forward.”
And should Texas fans begin to count on the Longhorns to hit at such a high level?
“Yeah,” said Felts. “I think they can expect more of the same.”