No. 1-seeded Texas did exactly what it was supposed to Friday night.
The Longhorns went into the Austin Regional Tournament set to face the Texas Southern Tigers in the opening round. After having beaten the Tigers once already this year, Texas did not disappoint. Spearheaded by stellar outings from junior starting pitcher Chase Shugart and junior reliever Matteo Bocchi, the Longhorns cruised to a 10-0 victory late Friday night.
“I’m just proud of the way that we came out and played,” head coach David Pierce said. “We were ready to play. It was obvious we were ready to play. Guys expected the ball, wanted the ball hit to them and made some tremendous plays. But for us to be able to execute the way we did, and it to be that efficient, was about as good as you could expect.”
Shugart went six complete innings and only allowed four hits over the course of the day. Now 5-3 overall as a starter, Shugart has hit his stride late in the season after producing one of his most dominant outings of the year.
“I felt like tonight I was myself all six innings,” Shugart said. “I was composed. I was pitching with emotion, with that edge I usually have. And I was in a rhythm. I was letting my defense work. And I was also making pitches in counts I needed to make pitches in. So overall, it was a good night for me and a good night for our defense.”
Offensively, the Longhorns were just as dominant. Over eight innings, the team compiled 11 runs on 10 hits and was a force to be reckoned with early and often. After putting up a two-spot in the bottom of the second inning, Texas added innings of four, three and one runs, respectively.
The catalyst? None other than junior catcher DJ Petrinsky, who also displayed one of his better outings of the season. Petrinsky went 2-3 with four RBI and tacked on two walks. He punctuated his statement, however, with a monster three-run home run that went well over the left field fence.
The bomb to left field brought one of the loudest roars of the night from the crowd on a night where Longhorn fans provided a buzz throughout UFCU Disch-Falk Field all game.
“(The environment) was incredible,” Petrinsky said. “I mean I love playing here.”
Shugart butted in calling Petrinsky “a man of many words.” Though it may seem like a minor joke, that small remark possibly gives a glimpse into the mindset of this team; relaxed and confident.
The team will need to maintain that mood as it prepares to play its biggest game of the year. Saturday night, the Longhorns are scheduled to face longtime rival and former conference foe, Texas A&M.
Though many assumed that the matchup was inevitable, it has finally come to fruition. And while the teams have already faced each other once this year, with the Longhorns falling to the Aggies by one run in College Station, the stakes in Saturday’s game are much, much higher.
“(The electricity at Disch-Falk will) probably (be) as good as I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been around a long time,” Pierce said. “You put those two teams in a regional and an opportunity to go 2-0, I think it’s going to be very exciting. I think what we’ll do is just go out and try to go business as usual and maintain our routines and go out there and try to be as efficient as we were tonight.”
Texas will play again Saturday night as they take on the Texas A&M Aggies in its second game of the Austin Regional Tournament. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m.