AUSTIN, Texas — The No. 3 Texas baseball team crushed Texas Tech, 11-3, Sunday at UFCU Disch-Falk Field, , but only after losing to the Red Raiders Friday and Saturday. The series was the first series the Longhorns have lost this season.
The result of the weekend moves Texas to 13-5 in Big 12 play and 35-11 overall, while Texas Tech improved to 30-11 overall and 10-8 in games against conference opponents. There was also a shift in the conference standings following the series, as Texas fell two games behind TCU into second place; Texas Tech remained in third.
"We learned a lot," Texas shortstop Trey Faltine said following Sunday's victory. "Tech is a really good team, so as much as we hate to lose to them, we can also learn a lot from them. They stepped up in the big moments. We didn't.
"We just go out everyday knowing we have to improve, no matter if we win or lose."
Texas Tech scored five runs over the fourth and fifth innings to earn a 6-3 victory in the first game of the series.
Despite striking out seven, UT starter Ty Madden had a day to forget on the mound, as the Red Raider offense put together five earned runs on five hits and three walks in five innings, dropping Madden's season record to 6-2.
The Longhorn bats sent Texas Tech starter Patrick Monteverde to the showers after just 4-1/3 innings, scoring two runs in the third. Tech catcher Braxton Fulford put the Red Raiders up, 1-0, early with a solo home run to left field in the second, but the Horns countered with a solo home run by Faltine. Two walks and an error loaded the bases for third baseman Cam Williams with one out in the frame. Williams reached on a fielder's choice, which resulted in designated hitter Ivan Melendez being thrown out at second, but it gave second baseman Mitchell Daly the opportunity to race home from third and give Texas its only lead of the contest.
Texas Tech sent just six batters to the plate in the fourth, but pushed two runs across. A triple down the right field line by DH Cody Masters scored Fulford, who walked on four straight pitches with one out; Masters then scored on a passed ball.
The Red Raiders added to the 3-2 advantage with a trio of runs in the fifth, sealing the game.
Saturday presented a new opportunity for the Longhorns, who were attempting to keep their streak of 10 consecutive series wins this season alive.
For the first five innings, the contest was a scoreless pitcher's duel. But the Texas Tech bats exploded in the sixth, forcing Texas starter Tristan Stevens out of the game as the Red Raiders took a 5-0 lead. Stevens worked the count to two strikes five times but struggled to finish, and hit two batters in the inning, the second of which came with the bases loaded and allowed Texas Tech to score its first run. He also gave up three straight hits after tallying the second out, including a double by shortstop Cal Conley that scored runners from second and third and made the score 3-0. The loss dropped Stevens' record to 7-2.
UT got on the board in the seventh on a solo home run by Melendez, and generated momentum of its own in the eighth. The Horns scored twice in the frame, both runs coming off bases-loaded walks to cut the deficit to 5-3. With the bases loaded, two outs and pinch hitter Silas Ardoin stepping to the plate, the game suddenly stopped because of a relentless downpour lightning that forced the suspension of the contest until Sunday.
When the action resumed following nearly an 11-hour delay, UT's momentum seemed to have subsided. Tech reliever Ryan Sublette took full advantage of the situation, striking out Ardoin on three straight pitches to close out the eighth inning. The Red Raiders pushed an insurance run across in the ninth to seal the series.
The Longhorns regrouped and entered the series finale, which began a little over an hour after the second game's conclusion.
Starter Kolby Kubichek began the game similar to the way his last several starts had gone: lacking command. He made it just four batters, giving up two hits, two walks and a run before Pete Hansen was summoned from the bullpen.
Texas won the game, 11-3, and although the Horns rattled off nine hits, Hansen was the story of the game.
Having struggled at times throughout the season, Hansen went 7-2/3 innings, allowing seven hits and a run. His command was strong and his slider on point. He entered the game in the first with the bases loaded and no outs. The redshirt freshman quickly went to work, inducing a 6-4-3 double play and a flyout to escape from the inning with Texas trailing, 1-0.
His performance not only earned him his fifth win of the year, but also a start next Sunday at TCU, according to head coach David Pierce.
"We definitely have to go and move Pete into that Sunday role right now," Pierce said following Sunday's victory.
Pierce also noted that the best thing for Kubichek right now is to get back on the mound, and reset his mentality when it comes to putting pressure on himself.
"It's tough on Kolby," Pierce said. "We had a nice meeting this week and talked about getting back to enjoying the competition and not putting so much pressure on yourself. It just didn't work out. Every player is going to go through some kind of adversity. He's having a hard time right now."
Right fielder Douglas Hodo III was unstoppable at the plate, as the Red Raiders failed to get the redshirt freshman out. He went 2-for-2 with a walk. He also had Texas' biggest offensive play of the day: in the seventh, he stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and launched a grand slam over the left center field wall as the crowd rose to its feet. Texas sealed the victory at that point, leading 11-2.
"We talk about sweeping, we talk about winning series and we talk about survival," Pierce said. "Today was a survival game. We did it with a statement."
Texas hosts Texas State at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Disch-Falk Field before traveling north to TCU next weekend.