Pitchers battle through adversity as Longhorns host Kansas State

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Texas watched its six-game winning streak dissolve into four losses in the span of as many games. 

But thanks to the Longhorn bullpen, that all changed Wednesday night against UT-Rio Grande Valley.

Texas relievers sophomore Beau Ridgeway and senior Jon Malmin combined for 8.2 scoreless innings after junior starter Connor Mayes  was charged with seven runs during his 0.1-inning outing. Despite Mayes’ debacle, the pitching staff battled through the adversity in the 9-7 comeback win over UT-RGV.

“Pitchers — we know we stick together,” Ridgeway said. “We pick each other up when we’re down. Everybody knows as a pitcher you’re going to have your good days, you’re going to have your bad days. ... But we keep each other’s spirits up and we’re always positive.”

The Longhorns have relied on Ridgeway as their hot hand — he leads his fellow pitchers with 14 appearances on the mound this season. But he won’t take any credit for his recent success.

“One hundred percent, it’s our defense,” Ridgeway said. “Going out there, being on the throne, having confidence in the guys behind you going to make plays, makes life a whole lot easier as a pitcher. I know my defense, my guys behind me — they’ll make every play so I can just throw strikes and let them do their job.”

Malmin came out as the star of the show after tossing a career-high 6.2 scoreless innings Wednesday night. He set another new career record by striking out seven
UT-RGV batters. 

“He is Hollywood to us,” Ridgeway said. “But if you just ask him, he wouldn’t say anything about it — he’s real down to earth. I’m happy for him, he did a great job.”

After dropping all three games to Texas Tech last weekend, the Longhorns (0–3 Big 12) are still looking for their first win in conference play. Texas couldn’t find the ball enough to bring in run support for its pitchers and finished at the losing end of two 2-1 games in a row as a result.

Head coach David Pierce believes his Longhorns will find success after they learn how to rise above their opponents during tight situations.

“I just really remind them much more about playing the game the right way,” Pierce said. “We’ve got to continue to understand that we’ve got to get things done in those situations. I call it the ‘moment of truth’ — when the game is on the line, are we elevating or staying the same or are we pressing? And that’s where you grow as a player.”

Texas’ confidence is still intact, but it was tested throughout the tough four-game losing skid. The team isn’t exactly riding the wave it was on after defeating Texas A&M last week, but the mentality hasn’t changed going into this weekend’s three-game series with Kansas State.

“We’re still taking it inning by inning,” sophomore designated hitter Kody Clemens said. “Each game is obviously really important. Coming into this weekend, we really need to step up and win a few games, at least two, hopefully sweep. I think the mentality in the clubhouse is just keep grinding out, it’s going to turn in our favor.”