After a thrilling walk-off win Tuesday night, the Longhorns’ next battle away from home won’t be a walk in the park.
No. 15 Texas (6-3) will travel to Houston this weekend to compete in the Houston College Classic after winning three of its last four contests. For the first time in the history of the tournament, the entire field is made up of Texas teams, including Rice, TCU, Houston and Sam Houston State.
The Longhorns’ offense has slowed down a bit after a five-game win streak that saw them tally 44 combined hits and 34 runs. In the last two games, games in which the team split wins, Texas has only managed seven runs on 11 hits.
Texas was forced to rely on four bench players, who made up the winning combination in the bottom of the 11th against UTPA on Tuesday. After going 8-for-10 in the Stanford series, senior Mark Payton recorded just one hit in four at-bats against the Broncos.
“This game doesn’t reward you all the time,” head coach Augie Garrido said after the 2-1 win over UTPA. “But [the bench players] got rewarded for the attitude that they demonstrated in an extremely difficult situation.”
Despite the glaring 11-5 loss to Stanford on Sunday, this season’s pitching staff picked up right where it left off last season, totaling a combined 2.51 ERA heading into this weekend. The bullpen has been streaky at best — accounting for most of the 33 earned runs the team has allowed this season — but with senior pitcher Nathan Thornhill making the transition to the closing role, things are looking up.
Thornhill has made three relief appearances this season, surrendering one earned run while striking out seven in 14.2 innings. He holds a 0.61 ERA.
The team will get a chance to keep proving its worth when it battles Rice to open the tournament Friday at 7:05 p.m.