Billy Beane would be proud.
The Longhorns’ increasingly uncanny ability to get on base recently would certainly impress the Oakland Athletics general manager, who was played by Brad Pitt in “Moneyball.” Texas head coach Augie Garrido had his team watch the Oscar-nominated film on the way back from a three-game sweep of Oklahoma, and the Longhorns took the lesson to heart.
The team picked up right where they left off, getting on base 21 times in 43 plate appearances as every member of the starting lineup reached base and all but one reached base at least twice, including sophomore right fielder Mark Payton, who has now reached base in 19 consecutive contests. Texas drew five walks, racked up eight hits and was hit by a pitch five times.
“When you’re getting on in a lot of different ways, it puts pressure on the defense. We can steal from time to time, we can run a hit and run. You’re creating so many more opportunities,” Garrido said. “I’m very impressed with the team being able to come out and play against the game and not care about the opponent.”
Meanwhile, the Texas pitching staff did not surrender a hit until the fifth inning or a run until a seventh-inning solo home run by pinch-hitter Chris Hernandez. Freshman Dillon Peters picked up his first win of the season as the Longhorns (11-8, 3-0) extended their winning streak to six games with a 9-1 triumph over Stephen F. Austin (7-13, 2-4) at UFCU Disch-Falk Field Tuesday night.
“[Peters] pitched very well,” Garrido said. “We were anxious to get back home to this game on a mound that he’s comfortable with, with a team that’s doing well and scoring runs, playing a high level of defense behind him — this is the best environment that we could have put him in and he capitalized.”
Texas turned in a solid offensive performance but the Lumberjacks did not do themselves any favors defensively. After a leadoff single by freshman Brooks Marlow in the second inning, Alex Silver hit a ground ball through the second baseman’s glove on a hit-and-run play before sophomore catcher Jacob Felts hit a soft comebacker that got past both the pitcher and the second baseman.
Senior designated hitter Kevin Lusson drew a bases-loaded walk, followed by singles from senior second baseman Jordan Etier and sophomore shortstop Christian Summers as the Longhorns took a commanding 3-0 lead.
Another defensive miscue allowed Texas to expand that lead in the following frame as a fly ball hit by Marlow to left-center field was mishandled by Stephen F. Austin left fielder Fola Lajide. Marlow trotted to third base with a triple, and scored later in the inning when Etier beat out a potentially inning-ending double play ball.
“It’s about time that it started falling our way,” said Etier, who went two-for-four Tuesday. “We got some hits that weren’t squared up but just fell in and that’s part of the game.”
Senior center fielder Tim Maitland was hit by a pitch for the 10th and 11th time in the contest and scored both times, beginning in the fourth inning when he was driven in by a sacrifice bunt from Marlow. Sophomore third baseman Erich Weiss drew a walk in the same frame and scored on a triple by Silver to extend the Longhorns’ lead to 6-0.
Texas tacked on two more runs in the sixth inning — Payton scoring on a wild pitch following a leadoff double and Weiss scoring on an errant throw by the Lumberjacks catcher on a pickoff attempt while he was on third base. Maitland, who was been hit by two more pitches than the entire Stephen F. Austin squad this season, provided another insurance in the seventh inning to cap the game’s scoring.
The Longhorns pitching staff was solid again Tuesday night as Peters began the contest with three innings of no-hit baseball, with a second-inning walk being the only base runner he allowed during his best outing of the year so far. Sophomore pitcher Nathan Thornhill retired the Lumberjacks in order in the fourth inning before freshman Ricky Jacquez held them scoreless in the fifth. Fellow freshman John Curtiss pitched the following three frames, allowing three hits, including a towering solo shot into the Stephen F. Austin bullpen in the seventh inning. Then, Hoby Milner — the fifth and final Longhorns pitcher of the evening — sat the Lumberjacks down in order in the ninth inning.
Published on Wednesday, March 21, 2012 as: Strong team effort continues winning streak