No. 18 Texas didn’t even need a hit in the bottom of the ninth to walk-off against Stanford (2-4). They loaded the bases on walks, and with two outs, Stanford Michael Brakeman threw a wild pitch as Connor Shaw scurried home to give Texas the 4-3 walk-off win Saturday afternoon.
“It was a good walk-off,” junior starter Dillon Peters said, who went seven innings, allowing two runs. “Both teams battled to the very end.”
The rest of the game was pretty ordinary for a Texas baseball game. Senior outfielder Mark Payton kept hitting while the starting pitching kept pitching well.
The Texas offense got off to a quick start, putting up two runs in the first. After a leadoff walk to junior second baseman Brooks Marlow, Payton roped a single to right. An error and RBI groundout pushed home the two upperclassmen to open the scoring.
It looked as though those two were all Peters would need. While the Texas offense struggled to push runs across, the lefty was rolling. Through the first six innings, Peters needed just 58 pitches. But then the seventh inning came around.
“I threw alright until the seventh,” Peters said.
With the bases loaded and two outs, Stanford’s nine-hole hitter, sophomore outfielder Zach HoffPauir, pulled a single to left to tie the game, ruining an otherwise tremendous performance from Peters.
But it didn’t take long for Payton to make his presence felt again. Facing lefty reliever Logan James with two outs and runners at first and second in the bottom of the seventh, the left-handed hitting Payton rifled a 3-2 pitch up the middle to drive in sophomore outfielder Ben Johnson.
“He’s confident,” head coach Augie Garrido said. “He thinks he has them right where they want him.”
For Payton, that was his seventh hit in the series in eight at-bats to run up his season average up to .621.
“I don’t pay attention to it. Not at all,” Payton said, deflecting attention away from his torrid start. “I’m keeping it simple and finding pitches to hit.”
Texas (5-2) then brought in senior Nathan Thornhill (2-0), but after 1.2 scoreless endings Friday night, Thornhill surrendered a two-out, game tying double in the bottom of the eighth. But he worked his way out of a leadoff single in the nine, to put him in line for the win—and the Longhorns came through in the ninth.
After two walks, none other than Payton came to the plate. This time, though, they pitched around him, loading the bases with two outs for CJ Hinojosa. Brakeman (0-1) quickly got ahead of Hinojosa 0-2, but a 1-2 pitch got away from Brakeman and Shaw came home for the walk-off.
“He’s never been in that situation,” Garrido said of Stanford’s freshman pitcher. “He’s never had the experience pitching in front of a crowd. He didn’t have control of his environment and we won the game.”