There is no looking back now. The ball is officially rolling for the 2019 Texas baseball season.
Following a 2–1 series win over Louisiana, Texas head coach David Pierce’s squad heads to Houston on Tuesday for a meeting with Rice, continuing the opening slate of road games that encapsulates four games in six days for the Longhorns.
Texas was able to ride strong pitching for its first two victories of the year. Pitcher Bryce Elder was named the Big 12 Pitcher of the Week on Monday for his performance in game one. The Longhorns’ bullpen also allowed just one run in seven innings of work in the game two victory that was highlighted by superb play from its freshmen.
As for game three, the Ragin’ Cajuns were able to get to pitcher Coy Cobb early on and fend off any comeback attempts by the Longhorns, which included a bases-loaded threat in the top of the ninth inning.
“Our guys continued to play, and it’s always tough when you win the first two (games) to get yourself ready to go for game three and want the game as bad as the home team that is 0–2,” Pierce said.
The freshmen arms were a big storyline heading into the beginning of this season, and there has been a plethora of appearances by guys making their Longhorn debut through just three games already. Pierce added that it is of immense importance moving forward that the young guys can find their stride and contribute at a clip that does not halt the success of the Texas program.
“We’re going to have to grow them up quickly because they have good stuff,” Pierce said following the loss Sunday. “And they cannot be pitching off of the black and worried about contact because their stuff is right.”
The meeting Tuesday will be the first between the two schools since 2017, when they met in a four-game series in which the teams split the series. There is reason to expect some of the newcomers will play a key role in the outcome of Tuesday’s game as well.
With Rice having a natural field surface, Pierce made it a point to get the Longhorns some practice time on a grass field, something that has been very elusive to Texas having played on artificial turf all during fall practice at UFCU Disch-Falk Field.
“We took Wednesday off so we could have the availability to workout on Monday,” Pierce said. “We do need to get out on grass and dirt, and we have that opportunity. I believe we are going to be alright there.”
Rice had the luxury of starting off the season at home as Rhode Island made the trip south to face the Owls at Reckling Park. Rice took two of three from Rhode Island, including two games that went into extra innings.
The Owls’ pitching allowed 11 runs in three games while producing 23 on the offensive side of the ball.
Rice is led by head coach Matt Bragga, who was hired in June to lead the program. Previously, Bragga had a coaching stint with Tennessee Tech, which produced the nation’s best offense in 2018 before having its season ended in the regional round by none other than Pierce and the Longhorns.
Bragga will have the opportunity to get his revenge when the Longhorns and Owls take the field for the first pitch at 7 p.m.