Longhorns fall to Sacramento State, 5-3, to set up Sunday rubber match

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The Texas Longhorns struggled to find their rhythm on offense Saturday and were unable to recover after falling behind early.

Texas (1-1) recorded 10 hits and saw 14 batters reach base but stranded eight in its 5-3 loss to the Sacramento State Hornets (1-1) on Saturday at UFCU Disch-Falk Field. Starting pitcher Brennan Leitao held the Longhorns in check for most of the afternoon, tallying seven strong innings and striking out four while giving up just six hits and two runs.

The Longhorns were able to take an early 1-0 lead on Mark Payton’s RBI single in the first inning, but the Hornets answered with a run in the second inning and three runs in the third. First baseman Rhys Hoskins provided the big blow in the Hornets third inning rally with an RBI double to center field, and he would go on to score two runs in the game.

Texas starter Nathan Thornhill (0-1) struggled with location in his first start of the year, as he allowed six hits and four runs (three earned) in just 3.2 innings. The defense was not without fault, as shortstop C.J Hinojosa made two of errors that resulted in a pair runs for the Hornets with Thornhill on the mound. That said, the right-hander was not pleased with his outing and is ready to make adjustments for his next start.

“It’s definitely not what I wanted but I know I have better stuff than what I showed today.” Thornhill said. “I’m going to maintain my confidence in that and just keep preparing for the next outing.”

The bullpen kept the Longhorns in the game, as a trio of relievers each making their Texas debuts and combined to allow just one run in 5.1 innings. Still, the Longhorns were unable to complete a comeback, and head coach Augie Garrido believes that early deficit changed his players’ mindset.

“When we got behind four to one it shocked us and stunned us a little bit and then we started getting a little bit more conservative and got away from our aggressive plan at the plate,” Garrido said. We didn’t go after the first pitch much and [Leitao] was throwing it for a strike and it just added to his confidence, because we didn’t do anything to take him out of his game.”

The Longhorns will look to take the rubber game to win their first series of the year on Sunday. The game is scheduled to start at 1:00 p.m. at UFCU Disch-Falk Field.