The Longhorns lost the first two games again Texas A&M, but clutch hitting in game three allowed the Longhorns to avoid a three-game sweep.
It was baseball this time, but Westlake High School in Austin, Texas produced the Longhorns’ hero yet again.
Senior shortstop Jordan Etier hit a walk-off RBI single in the ninth inning to give number 20 Texas (25-16,12-6) a 2-1 victory over the number nine Texas A&M Aggies( 31-13,11-7) and salvage the series after dropping games one and two.
On Friday night, Texas fell 6-5 after rallying in the ninth inning. The ‘Horns started the game with a Mark Payton double off of Aggie ace Michael Wacha, but were unable to bring him home. The Longhorns surrendered two runs in the bottom of the first on one hit, an error and two wild pitches.
Texas’ offense was unable to produce, and its defense again struggled in the bottom of the third. The ‘Horns surrendered three runs on an error and two hits. Texas allowed another run in the fifth, only the second earned run of six total runs allowed on the day, and continued to come up empty at the plate until the top of the ninth inning.
Following a pitching change, leftfielder Jonathan Walsh grounded out to first, and second baseman Brooks Marlow singled to left field. First baseman Alex Silver followed with a single of his own, and catcher Jacob Felts made it three in a row loading the bases. Marlow scored on a wild pitch to break the shutout, moving Walsh and Felts to second and third base. Centerfielder Tim Maitland walked, to load the bases again and Kevin Lusson pinch hitting for Etier hit a pop fly foul for the second out. Right fielder Mark Payton then singled to cut the deficit to 6-3, with the tying run at the plate. Freshman Collin Shaw proceeded to walk to load the bases again for third baseman Erich Weiss. Weiss drilled a double to right center scoring two cutting Texas’ deficit to 6-5. However, Walsh grounded out on the subsequent at bat ending the ball game.
In the Saturday game, poor fielding doomed the ‘Horns who were unable to overcome five errors in a 12-4 loss. Reigning Big 12 Player of the Year Taylor Naquin went 2-for-5 with a double and a homerun in the top of the ninth inning to increase the Aggie lead to 12-3. Etier answered with a solo homerun, but the ‘Horns were unable to mount a rally.
With the losses on Friday and Saturday, the Aggies won their first series against Texas since 2003, and looked for the sweep Sunday for the first time since 1991.
Freshman pitch Dillon Peters was brilliant for Texas in the start, striking out a career high six batters, in four innings of one hit baseball. Texas A&M’s Rafael Pineda was even better allowing only two hits in seven and two thirds innings pitched. Texas star reliever Corey Knebel went five innings strong allowing one run and striking out five.
Needing to score in the ninth inning, Weiss singled to centerfield. This was followed by a single by Walsh and a sacrifice bunt by Silver to advance the two to second and third base. Felts hit a single hard up the middle but the diving A&M shortstop was able to stop the ball from getting to the outfield and ending the game.
With the game tied, Jordan Etier delivered the game winning hit on the first pitch of his at bat. Walsh made a perfect slide, just avoiding the glove of Texas A&M’s Troy Stein to score the game winning run. From there, the Longhorns charged out of the dugout and mobbed Etier. This was very reminiscent to how Texas’ Justin Tucker was mobbed after kicking the game winning field goal against Texas A&M on Thanksgiving day 2011.
Series Grade C+
The ‘Horns didn’t execute Augieball as planned this weekend. They committed eight errors in the first two games of the series, but finally executed well defensively on Sunday which put them in position to win the game in the ninth inning. Texas’ other big problem was not being able to get guys on base early in innings. This combined with the dominant pitching of A&M made winning this series very difficult.
The victory on Sunday does put Texas in sole possession of second place in the conference, and a fighters chance to snag an NCAA Regional. To do so, they will need to sweep, much less win the series this weekend against Missouri, and at the very least avoid being swept at the hands of the Baylor Bears in the series May 17th-19th.