It’s hard to win baseball games when your pitcher has an off-night on the mound. It’s even harder when your team manages only four hits. Texas found this out Friday night at UFCU Disch-Falk Field, as the team was beaten 6-1 by Oklahoma State.
“Mentally we were really sloppy,” head coach David Pierce said. “I thought we had some things that controlled us, instead of controlling ourselves. They played the game the right way. They pitched well and we didn’t. That’s why they won and we didn’t.”
Sophomore pitcher Blair Henley would breeze through the game’s first inning but ran into trouble in the second. After walking his first batter of the frame, Henley threw a wild pitch to advance the runner to second. A pair of singles would advance the runner home, giving the Cowboys a 1-0 lead.
With runners on first and second, the Cowboys appeared ready to extend their lead even further. But sophomore outfielder Austin Todd was around to prevent any more damage. After the Cowboys sent a line drive to right field, Todd showed off his arm, streamlining the baseball to junior catcher DJ Petrinsky for a tag-out at home plate to end the inning.
However, the Cowboys would get back the stolen run in the fifth, leading off the inning with a home run to make things 2-0.
The wheels would fall off for Henley and the Longhorns in the seventh. The sophomore opened the inning by giving up a triple, a single and a double, allowing two more Cowboys to score and was subsequently pulled from the contest.
Henley’s successor on the mound would fare no better. Redshirt junior pitcher Josh Sawyer gave up a two-run homer to his first batter and was yanked from the game after only three pitches. The homerun put the Longhorns in a 6-0 hole they wouldn’t dig out of.
Henley came into the game sporting a sub-2.00 ERA but had by far his least efficient outing of the season. The sophomore gave up 10 hits, and his four earned runs given up were more than half of his season total. Henley did set a season-high in strikeouts, fanning seven Cowboys.
“I just think (Henley) lost some focus,” Pierce said. “He’s got to stop back and regain his composure and continue to attack. His stuff was still good, but in that moment he’s got to be better.”
While Henley had has struggles on the mound, the Longhorns’ bats did little to help their pitcher. Texas was silent at the plate the whole night, with its four hits matching a season low. Freshman designated hitter Zach Zubia scored the only run for Texas, a homerun in the ninth.
Pierce partly attributed the struggles at the plate to the performance from Oklahoma State starting pitcher Joe Lienhard, but was also critical of the team’s discipline at the plate.
“I think (Lienhard) pitched to his game plan and he hit with the slider and nibbled with the fastball,” Pierce said. “I thought we got big and wanted to pull (for power) instead of taking what he gives us. That was the difference. (Lienhard) made some pitches at times, but I felt like we did not stay within ourselves tonight.”
With the loss, Texas ends a three-game winning streak and an undefeated start to Big 12 play. The team will look to get back to its winning ways as the Oklahoma State series continues tomorrow at 2:30 p.m.