It didn’t come easy, but the Longhorns won another series this past weekend.
No. 22 Texas (13-9, 5-1) took two of three games from Kansas State (13-10, 2-4), capping off the series with an 8-5 victory in Manhattan, Kan. Sunday afternoon. The Wildcats captured the series opener, 5-2, and led by two runs going into the eighth inning of the next contest but the Longhorns triumphed in extra innings Saturday before taking the rubber match the following day. They have won seven of their last eight games.
Texas pounded out 30 hits in the final two games of the series, both wins. Junior left fielder Jonathan Walsh, senior shortstop Jordan Etier, sophomore third baseman Erich Weiss and sophomore first baseman Alex Silver combined to account 13 of the Longhorns’ 16 hits Sunday while scoring and driving in all eight of their runs. Walsh had a game-high four hits while Weiss tripled once and homered twice.
Walsh, who returned from a thumb injury he suffered during this past weekend’s sweep of Oklahoma that kept him out last Tuesday’s win over Stephen F. Austin, proved why he’s become a mainstay at the cleanup spot in the lineup. He went 9-for-15 at the plate with three runs and 5 RBI against Kansas State. After a 4-for-5 performance in his most recent contest, Walsh has replaced sophomore right fielder Mark Payton as the team’s leading hitter as he currently boasts a .387 batting average.
But things did not start out well for Texas in this series. The Longhorns dropped their game in Big 12 play Friday and trailed entering the final stages of Saturday’s contest. Down 4-2 in the eighth inning, Weiss started the frame by getting hit with a pitch and Walsh followed with a single. Silver laid down a sacrifice bunt that advanced them to second and third base. Weiss crossed the plate after a balk by Kansas State to trim the deficit to 4-3 and Walsh scored the tying run on a single from freshman second baseman
Weiss and Walsh each chipped in an RBI single in the decisive 11th inning before sophomore closer Corey Knebel completed his four-inning outing by retiring the Wildcats in order in the bottom half of the frame. Knebel did not allow a run in five innings of work during the series. With the 6-4 victory Saturday, the Longhorns improved to 4-0 in extra-inning games this season.
Knebel fared better than Texas’ starting pitchers on the weekend, none of whom made it through the sixth inning. Sophomore Nathan Thornhill, freshman Parker French and freshman Ricky Jacquez combined to surrender 20 hits and 11 runs in 13.2 innings of work. Thornhill was saddled with the loss in Friday’s defeat, while junior Hoby Milner (4-3) and Knebel (2-0) picked up wins in the games Jacquez and French started, respectively.
Printed on Monday, March 26, 2012 as: Longhorns win series, continue to improve