The Texas Longhorns traveled to Lubbock this weekend, sandwiching a loss between two wins to take the series from the Red Raiders for the fifth straight season. Texas accumulated another six errors on the weekend, but managed to outhit Texas Tech 41 to 26 to make up the difference. This series win gave the Longhorns a 7-2 mark in Big XII play, with every conference game thus far happening on the road.
Nathan Thornhill made his usual series opener start for the Longhorns on Thursday, going six innings and allowing four runs, all earned, on five hits. Thornhill hurled 95 pitches on his way to his fourth win of the season. Texas Tech got on the board first, scoring a run in the third inning on a pair of doubles from outfielders Brennan Moore and Barrett Barnes. The Longhorns took the lead in the fifth, loading the bases on two walks and an error, before Taylor Stell delivered the first Texas hit of the game, scoring Brooks Marlow. When Jordan Etier took a bases-loaded walk from Trey Masek, Alex Silver came home unearned, giving Texas its first lead of the game. The Red Raiders answered in the fifth with a two-out rally when Jamodrick McGruder tripled. Nathan Thornhill gave Barnes an intentional walk, and had Scott LeJeuene down in a 1-2 count before LeJeuene hit a three-run home run over the wall in right field, giving Tech a 4-2 lead over Texas. Once again, the Longhorns reached back and answered the Red Raider rally, this time with four additional runs on a walk, two singles, and two doubles in the top of the sixth. Texas scored again in the seventh, when Mark Payton led off with a single and eventually came home when Brooks Marlow ground into a double play. Hoby Milner and Corey Knebel combined for three shutout innings to finish the game, Knebel earning his sixth save of the season in a 7-4 victory.
Friday’s game saw freshman Parker French take the mound against Tech ace Duke VonSchamann. Coming off a rough start against Cal, French was looking for a better outing in Lubbock, and he found just that. The Longhorns drew first blood, scoring two runs in the fourth inning, thanks to doubles from Erich Weiss and Alex Silver, a Brooks Marlow single, and a throwing error by Tech second baseman Jamodrick McGruder, his tenth of the season. The Red Raiders hit back in the home half of the inning, taking advantage of sloppy defense and using three hits to score three runs. In the fifth, Parker French was driven from the game when McGruder led off with a single, eventually scoring on a single by LeJeuene off of Texas relief pitcher Hoby Milner. Texas battled back in the seventh, scoring two runs to knot the game at 4-4. After Jacob Felts led off with a single and moved to third on two groundouts, Tim Maitland hit a clutch two-out single to bring him home, followed by a Mark Payton triple. Texas sent Corey Knebel to the mound in the eight, and the game remained tied through the eighth and ninth innings. Texas Tech had an opportunity to score in the bottom of the ninth, but when LeJuene missed a home run and flew out to left field by the narrowest of margins, Barret Barnes forgot to tag up at second base on his way back to first. Frustrated with the easy out, Barnes spiked his helmet and was promptly ejected from the game by first base umpire Dale Luker. The game continued rather uneventfully until the top of the 14th. Brooks Marlow led off with a double, and after a failed bunt attempt, moved to third on a 4-3 groundout by Tim Maitland. Mark Payton was intentionally walked, and Augie went to the bench, pinch hitting senior Kevin Lusson for Collin Shaw. Lusson showed off his senior poise, lacing the first pitch he saw through the right side for a single, plating Marlow and Payton. Corey Knebel returned to the mound for his seventh inning of work in an attempt to maintain a 6-4 lead, but the magic ran out, with Tech scoring three runs to earn the walk off victory, 7-6.
The Saturday rubber match began at 2:05, with freshman Ricky Jacquez facing off against senior John Neely. Tech got the scoring started early with a solo home run from Tim Proudfoot. The score remained 1-0 in favor of Tech until the fourth inning, when Texas began pouring on the runs with a four run inning, using four consecutive singles and a hit by pitch to accomplish the task. The Longhorns scored again in the sixth, tacking a fifth run onto the board when Taylor Stell came home on a sacrifice fly by Mark Payton. The Red Raiders attempted a rally in the home half of the sixth, but were held to a single run. Dillon Peters came in to relieve Ricky Jacquez when the freshman found himself in a two-out, bases loaded jam. Peters used two pitches and got Jamodrick McGruder to fly out to center field to end the inning, leaving the bases loaded. Not satisfied with their five runs, Texas came back for more in the seventh, using another four hits to score three more runs. John Curtiss entered the game in the bottom of the seventh, and delivered three stellar innings of pitching for the Longhorns, holding Texas Tech to only one more run. Texas continued their onslaught in the eighth, adding another three runs in a two-out rally with doubles from Jonathan Walsh and Alex Silver sandwiched around a Brooks Marlow single. The Longhorn lead ballooned to 14-3 when Taylor Stell and Jordan Etier were brought home by Mark Payton’s double. With Payton on second base, Erich Weiss rocketed a ball over the left field wall for a two-run home run. John Curtiss finished the game for Texas, allowing no further runs, and earning his second career save in the process. Texas’ 19 hits and 14 runs became the largest totals in each category for the season.
The importance of this series win in Lubbock cannot be over-emphasized. The Longhorns, with a 7-2 mark, are currently tied for second in the Big XII standings, behind a surprise 12-0 Baylor team that has played three of their four conference series at home. Texas is finished hitting the road for the foreseeable future, with 12 of the next 13 games coming at the Disch. Texas begins its homestand this Tuesday when they welcome Texas A&M Corpus Christi to Austin for a midweek game.