As the regular season at UFCU Disch-Falk Field draws closer to its conclusion, the Longhorns once again failed to take advantage of their home field advantage. Texas (21–30, 9–14 Big 12) fell to Baylor 3-1 in the regular season’s penultimate matchup, dropping its sixth straight, and ninth in 10 games. The loss placed the Longhorns at 14–19 at the Disch, their worst home record in over a decade.
“It’s the total team that has to function on both sides of the ball, both on defense and offense to make winning take place,” head coach Augie Garrido said. “We’ll go in and regroup and see what we can do on [Saturday].”
The contest provided some déjà vu for Garrido’s squad, as the Longhorns saw another early lead squandered by a bullpen either too inexperienced or too unequipped to get key outs. Paired with a punchless lineup and an error for the seventh consecutive game, the performance by the Longhorns was certainly one to forget.
“Any little mistake that gives the [opponent] an extra out or extra base beats you,” Garrido said. “It doesn’t take much.”
On the burnt orange side of Friday’s matchup stood senior Ty Culbreth. Culbreth, the senior and unquestioned ace of the Longhorns’ staff went three strong innings, allowing no runs. But despite rolling through the Bears hitters in his first go-round through the lineup, Culbreth was pulled after three frames by Garrido.
Garrido’s move was questionable on its surface. However, with the end of the regular season now merely ceremonial, the Longhorns’ leader opted to give Culbreth extended rest before the Big 12 Tournament, which the Longhorns must win outright in order to advance to the Regionals.
While the Longhorns provided little punch against Baylor, they were able to drag one run across the plate. After stranding a runner in scoring position in the second, Texas capitalized in the bottom of the third, as junior Kacy Clemens slapped a single through the right side. After three, the Longhorns led 1-0.
The Longhorns held that slim lead for three more innings, but their bullpen woes returned once again in the seventh. After fanning on Texas fastballs throughout the evening, the Bears finally connected. Junior catcher Matt Menard gave Baylor the lead with a double down the right field line, and sophomore Kameron Esthay followed with an RBI single. The Bears didn't tack on any more runs in the evening, but it was enough to give them a 3-1 win.
“Two runs in two games isn’t going to get it done,” Garrido said. “You can look at it as one inning and that’s why we lost, but the real reason is we didn’t get any runs.”
With Kansas losing to Oklahoma State earlier in the evening, Texas qualified for the Big 12 Tournament, ensuring further baseball will be played past Saturday’s senior day. Based on what’s been seen throughout the year, however, a repeat of last year’s run through the Big 12 Tournament seems highly unlikely. But, the clock hasn’t struck midnight on Texas’ season just yet. The Longhorns will take on Baylor Saturday at 2 p.m. in the regular season finale.