After four innings of missed opportunities and sheer bad luck — a few robbed hits, two long balls that fell short at the warning track and a strong wind that kept just about everything in play — Texas finally found a way to start a scoring rally.
Down 2-0 in the bottom of the fifth and with one out, freshman catcher Jacob Felts drilled a shot up the middle of the infield, where it looked like Baylor’s second baseman Steve DalPorto might have a play on it. DalPorto stretched out to his right and snatched the ball out of the air, but as he came back down and hit the turf, the ball, upon impact, slipped out of his glove. Felts was safe at first — the Longhorns had finally gotten a lucky break.
Felts would advance to second on a bunt hit by Brandon Loy — a bunt so perfectly placed between the third-base line and the pitcher’s mound that by the time Baylor’s pitcher Trent Blank could get his hands on it, Loy was already safe at first.
Paul Montalbano watched the third strike go by, giving Texas two outs. It looked like the Longhorns would again come up short.
But, as he’s done all season, Erich Weiss delivered in the clutch. On a 2-0 count, the freshman hit an RBI-single to center field, where it dropped just a few feet in front of the Bears’ Brooks Pinckard, who had already robbed Texas of a few hits — including a diving takeaway of what would have been a probable two-run double by Weiss in the third inning.
It was the one ball that Pinckard couldn’t get to, and it meant Texas was finally on the board.
“We were down on ourselves after falling behind 2-0, but we knew there was a lot of time left,” said Weiss, who leads the team with 21 RBIs. “I was frustrated after their center fielder robbed me in the third, so I was relieved to get that hit. We knew we weren’t going to lose; we just had to put some hits together.”
The Longhorns’ never-say-die attitudes helped them again in the seventh. Tant Shepherd, who, in the fourth inning, hit a ball to the 405-foot marker in center field, which was caught against the wall by Pinckard, got some revenge with a two-run double to left that scored Weiss and Montalbano.
“This is a crazy game,” Shepherd said. “You can hit a ball really hard, but it can still be an out. That’s how baseball works. It’s a game of inches.”
Shepherd’s double gave Texas a 4-2 lead. Two batters later, a sacrifice bunt by Jonathan Walsh brought Shepherd home for the fifth and final run of the game.
“Today showed the character this team has,” Shepherd said. “To come off a loss (7-6 Saturday against Baylor) and get a win today is awesome.”
Not one of the Longhorns’ runs came easily. As Loy said afterward, the game was an exercise in “making something out of nothing.”
Sometimes, as Texas learned Sunday, it’s just best to make your own luck.