The top of the Texas order shined as the Longhorns pushed across six runs in the first four innings, and the early output was enough to allow them to cruise to a 9-2 victory over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Tuesday.
“We had four good innings,” said head coach Augie Garrido. “We took the momentum from the Saturday’s game (a 14-3 victory) and came right in here with the same spirit and did the same kinds of things that we did in Lubbock.
The top four hitters in the Texas lineup: Mark Payton, Taylor Stell, Erich Weiss and Jonathan Walsh went a combined 9-for-16 at the dish and really gave the offense a boost. All four had key hits that started, sustained or capped off rallies in the beginning stages of the game.
“We’re just working counts and finding ways to fight each at bat and battle, to have your best chance to get on base,” Payton said of the top of the order.
Payton exemplified that idea of battling to get on base — which he has done all season, as he has reached base one way or another in all 30 games. He had his moments in the first and fourth innings as a table setter.
In the first inning, he began the game with a sharp single up the middle and he eventually scored later that inning after a sacrifice bunt and a single plated him. He made his impact in the fourth with a perfectly placed one out bunt single right down the third base line. The textbook bunt allowed him to serve as the leadoff runner once again, and he was the catalyst for the three run burst Texas enjoyed in the frame.
Stell, who saw playing time in left field to allow Walsh a night of rest as the designated hitter, performed well in his opportunity. In the first four innings alone, Stell had two hits and a key sac bunt. His rope of a double down the left field line in the third inning was the beginning of a two run frame that put Texas up by three.
Weiss and Walsh did exactly what the three and four-hole hitters are supposed to do — send the runners that are on base home. The pair combined for five RBIs in the victory, and both seemed to come up with a clutch hit with runners in scoring position whenever it was needed.
After the first four innings, the Longhorns bats fell into a lull, but the pitching was good enough to pick up the slack.
Five Texas pitchers saw the mound and starter Dillon Peters was solid in his three innings, allowing just one hit and no runs. John Curtiss and Parker French each pitched two innings of long relief and combined to allow only one run and four hits — all off of Curtiss in the fourth.
The staff ran into a bit of trouble in the eighth when Austin Dicharry came into the game, as he allowed four straight Islander runners to reach base, cutting the game to a four run deficit. But Texas was quick to pull Dicharry in favor of Hoby Milner, who came in with the fire hose, and induced three quick outs to extinguish the A&M-Corpus Christi rally.
“We got some quality pitching,” Garrido said. “Dillon Peters was good, Hoby was outstanding, Curtiss had a rough first inning but came out and had a good second inning and Parker French did the same thing.”
After Milner worked the team out of the jam, the bats responded by pushing across three more runs in the bottom of the eighth to seal the game.