by Riley Zayas
This past weekend the Texas Longhorns baseball team won the Austin Regional with a 3-2 win over Indiana on Sunday night and will advance to play in the super regional at home against Tennessee Tech starting this weekend.
It was a regional full of excitement, intensity and the Longhorns goal to advance to a super regional for the first time since 2014 when they went all the way to the College World Series in Omaha. From Chase Shugart’s game-ending strikeout of Indiana’s Matt Lloyd in the regional final to David Hamilton’s steal of home against Texas Southern, so many players had important parts in Texas’ regional win. Two that really stood out were catcher D.J Petrinsky and starting pitcher Blair Henley.
D.J Petrinsky has been head coach David Pierce’s starting catcher for all of the 2018 season and at the Austin Regional he really showcased his talent. In each of the Longhorns three games he proved that he was a five-tool player as well as a key part in both Texas’ offense and defense. He came out swinging in the Horns first game against Texas Southern, a 10-0 win, in which he had four RBI. During Saturday’s 8-3 win over their rivals, the Texas A&M Aggies, Petrinsky showed his power by belting a solo homer. Finally, in another Texas win, this time the regional final, Petrinsky had a keen eye and drew a season-high three walks against multiple pitchers. Not only was Petrinsky stellar at the plate but also behind it where he played just as well in all three contests.
“He’s just been remarkable for us,” Pierce said following the regional victory. He really was a game changer on defense during this regional posting a 1.000% fielding percentage and communicating really well with all of Texas’ pitchers who combined for 31 strikeouts on just five runs scored throughout the entire regional. “D.J was great with our pitchers and kept them calm,” said Pierce. ”He was really big for us. It was the best weekend we’ve had attacking the strike zone and D.J was an important part of that.”
The second top performer is starter Blair Henley who had a personal record-breaking outing in one of the most meaningful games of his Texas career. He started in the regional final going a season-high 7.1 innings with eight strikeouts and also a season-high zero walks. “It was good not walking anyone, I really don’t like that, so I just tried to keep walks out of my game tonight,” Henley said following his start. This start against Indiana wasn’t an easy one, especially facing an team who earlier that day had put nine first-inning runs on the the board. In what turned out to be quite a pitchers’ duel, Henley showed that he had what it took to pitch to the highest level when the pressure was toughest. Pierce complimented him “Blair was outstanding tonight and put us in the position to win. He competed really, really well.”
D.J Petrinsky and Blair Henley were some of the top performers at the Austin Regional. They had great value to their team and more importantly, helped the Longhorns reach a super regional. Kody Clemens, the regional MVP put the win into words. “It’s really an unbelievable feeling.”