For Texas fans who made the three-hour flight to Palo Alto to watch the four-game series against No. 6 Stanford, game two will likely not be mentioned when recapping the trip out west.
The Longhorns’ momentum after a 4-0 victory in the first game of the series was quickly stopped with an 8-1 loss that was highlighted by sloppy fielding and missed opportunities.
“We’ve got to be able to just take care of the baseball,” head coach David Pierce said in his postgame interview with Texas Athletics. “When we do that and pitch (well) we are always in the game, and that’s the thing we’ve got to do.”
Texas finished the evening with just two official errors. However, sloppy play was evident throughout the evening, especially in the third inning.
Stanford was able to really break open the game in the third inning thanks to self-inflicted wounds by the Longhorn defense. Two wild pitches, one on a swinging third strike and the other with the bases loaded, errors by shortstop Bryce Reagan and center fielder Duke Ellis, and a hit by pitch caused Stanford to take a commanding 7-0 lead after the first three innings.
“We didn’t take care of the ball early and we let the game get away,” Pierce said. “We could have easily gotten out of the four-run inning with probably one (run scoring) if we just play catch.”
Friday was the first outing of the season in which starting pitcher Bryce Elder was unable to throw at least six innings .
He was pulled after just 2.2 innings pitched and allowed five runs — three being earned — on six hits. One of those hits included a second-inning home run to Stanford third baseman Tim Tawa, which was the first home run allowed by a Texas pitcher all season.
The third inning was even worse for catcher Michael McCann. He was hit in the groin area by a foul ball and had to leave the game. His status for game three of the series is currently unknown, according to a school spokesperson.
Despite the blowout on the scoreboard, Pierce found some positives in Friday’s ballgame, specifically from freshman pitcher Jack Neely.
“He went out and really attacked the zone, and that’s what we’ve been looking for,” Pierce said. “He’s got the right stuff. He’s got good (arm) angle, and he threw the slider well. That’s a positive.”
While playing time has come rather sparingly for Neely, having thrown just 3.1 innings in Texas’ first 15 games this season, he pitched well in the opportunity presented to him Friday night.
“You get in that kinda lopsided gamet,” Pierce said. “You get an opportunity for innings, and he took advantage of that. It was outstanding.”
Neely finished the evening with 3.1 innings pitched and allowed just one hit and no earned runs allowed.
The four game series is currently tied 1–1 with game three set for 4:05 p.m. at Klein Field at Sunken Diamond.