The timeless baseball strategy of a starter going deep in the game hasn’t been working for Texas in the past week. So on Tuesday, the Longhorns went with six different pitchers to secure the shutout.
All four members of Texas’ starting rotation saw time on the rubber on Tuesday night, pitching at least one inning each.
“Normally [the starters] would be taking bullpens today,” said head coach Augie Garrido. “But because of what happened with Stanford we wanted them in a competitive environment, which forces them back on the mound and makes them put on a competitive game face.”
Austin Dicharry started the game for Texas and gave the team exactly what they needed — two quick and efficient innings that led the team to a good start.
Dicharry got through the first inning facing the minimum number of batters and striking out two. He then came out in the second and gave the Longhorns more of the same, retiring every batter but one, and that was on a weakly hit grounder that just managed to find a hole.
“Those were two of the best innings he’s thrown since he was a freshman, when he was one of the best pitchers on the staff,” Garrido said.
From there, Garrido went to his bullpen to finish the game — sort of. The next three pitchers to see the rubber for Texas were members of its usual weekend rotation.
Nathan Thornhill was up first and quickly established a rhythm, striking out the first two Huskies he faced. After a runner reached base on a throwing error, Thornhill finished the inning by inducing a fly out to left.
In the fourth, John Curtiss came into the game and quickly took care of business, retiring the side on only 14 pitches.
Up next for the Longhorns was lefty starter Hoby Milner, who came into the game and gave the Longhorns two solid bridge innings to get to the real members of the bullpen.
Milner gave up no runs but had to work out of a bit of trouble in his time on the mound, which included a couple of hard hit balls and a dropped throw from first baseman Kirby Bellow that almost put a run on the board for Houston Baptist.
At this point in the game, the Longhorn offense wasn’t giving much to aide their pitchers’ stellar performances. But the staff was up to the test. In the seventh, Parker French came in and gave Texas a stellar inning, throwing just six pitches to get through the side.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, the offense woke up and pushed across two runs — all the pitching staff would need on this night.
From there, French came out in the eighth and mowed the Huskies down 1-2-3, once again. This allowed Texas to get the ball to its All-American closer Corey Knebel, who dominated the middle of the Houston Baptist order facing the minimum three batters with two strikeouts.
“We had our whole staff going today,” said junior outfielder Jonathan Walsh. “All of them came in, did their job and threw some strikes and made it look a lot easier than it was. When they come out there and throw like that it makes it a lot easier on the defense.”
Printed on Wednesday, February 29, 2012 as: Six pitchers allow three hits in win