Longhorns escape Red Raiders, 4-3, in series-clinching win

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Photo Credit: Joshua Guenther | Daily Texan Staff

St. Patrick’s Day brought more than 7,400 people to UFCU Disch-Falk Field on Sunday afternoon. With the stands decked out in beads and green clothing, Longhorn fans witnessed their team barely escape from Texas Tech in a 4-3 win.

With a series win over the Red Raiders, Texas also starts its campaign 2–1 in Big 12 play.

“I have no idea how we just won that ball game,” Texas head coach David Pierce said in a postgame interview with Texas Sports. “We had 10 free passes, we were getting no-hit through five innings against a really good team and, honestly, it doesn’t matter because we figured out how to do it and we figured out that we depend on each other and we just had to mix and match all day and just grind through a win. And that's what we did today.”

The Longhorns were able to secure the win with quality plays from shortstop Masen Hibbeler and solid arms in the bullpen.

Hibbeler showed off his athleticism in the top of the second when a Texas Tech batter found an alley in the outfield. After a quick throw from left fielder Eric Kennedy to Hibbeler, he threw a bullet to catcher Michael McCann and prevented an early run for Texas Tech.

However, the Red Raiders were able to take the lead, 1-0, in the top of the fifth with a hit out to left field.

Yet, Hibbeler was again able to get the Longhorns out of trouble in the sixth inning. After five innings of no-hits, right fielder Austin Todd gave Texas its first base hit. Kennedy followed with a single to first base, but made it safely.

With Todd and Kennedy in scoring position after Ryan Reynolds grounded out to the shortstop, Hibbeler singled up the middle, bringing both Todd and Kennedy home and giving the Longhorns a 2-1 lead.

Hibbeler’s offensive action did not stop there. After advancing to second on a balk, Hibbeler stole third and scored on a throwing error by Texas Tech’s catcher.

“I’m telling you, (Texas Tech has) great arms,” Pierce said. “It’s a very good Texas Tech team, and we fought all weekend against 90+ (mph) good breaking balls. (It’s just)  just a quality series win to open up conference.”

Texas’ last run came after designated hitter Zach Zubia walked onto first base after four balls. Freshman Bryce Reagan came in as a pinch runner and put the Longhorns up 4-1.

However, the Longhorns’ comfortable lead was almost blown in the top of the ninth. Red Raider batter Josh Jung brought the score back to 4-3 after a home run. It was the first home run allowed by Texas at home in 124 innings.

With no outs in the inning, Pierce replaced pitcher Matt Whelan with Kolby Kubichek, who promptly ended the Red Raiders’ attempted comeback. A full count strikeout and two fly balls secured the series win.

With an improved record of 15–7, the Longhorns go into their match against Arkansas with a win. They will meet Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at UFCU Disch-Falk Field.