Texas baseball drops opener behind UW's late-inning surge

Texas baseball needs more run support and more consistency from the bullpen for the rest of the weekend against Washington.

Kimble Schuessler, Texas baseball
Kimble Schuessler, Texas baseball / Sara Diggins/American-Statesman / USA
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The pitching struggles continued for No. 23 Texas baseball against major conference foes on March 15 in the series opener against the Washington Huskies. This game specifically saw the bullpen let up a late-inning two-run lead for Texas en route to a convincing 9-3 loss to the Huskies at UCFU Disch-Falk Field on Friday night.

Texas baseball and Kimble Schuessler fall to UW in Game 1 of the series

Texas got a quality outing on the mound against Washington from ace starting pitcher Lebarron Johnson Jr. The junior left-hander gave Texas six good innings, allowing just one earned run and three hits, while striking out 10 Washington batters.

Holding Washington's bats at bay, Texas rallied for three runs scored in the bottom of the fourth inning to take the lead. Catcher Kimble Schuessler had a clutch two-run single to begin the scoring for the Longhorns in the fourth inning.

A double on the next at-bat from infielder Jack O'Dowd scored Schuessler to extend Texas's lead to 3-1, entering the top of the fifth inning.

Those three runs would be all the Longhorns would get in this game outside of a few runners stranded.

Texas turned the game over to the bullpen entering the top of the seventh inning with a two-run lead on the Huskies, which is where the trouble started. A combination of shaky pitching from the bullpen and inconsistent defense wound up costing the Longhorns the game in the seventh.

Texas allowed five earned runs off six hits and one walk. The other run for the Huskies was unearned due to an error at short by Jalin Flores.

Two innings later, the Huskies salted the game away with two more runs allowed by Easton Tumis. Texas didn't have anything going with the bats in the late innings to respond to either Washington scoring outburst in the seventh and the ninth.

Texas made good contact on the ball against the Washington staff, only striking out five times compared to over a dozen for the Huskies batters. Whether it was flying or grounding out, the Longhorns just couldn't seem to put the ball in the right place to get on base when it mattered.

Sustained offense was hard for the Longhorns to come by. While Schuessler and O'Dowd delivered a couple of clutch hits to give Texas the lead in the middle innings, no Longhorn batter had multiple hits in this game.

The pitching staff didn't help the Longhorns cause much either.

With the Friday night ace going and a fresh bullpen coming off three days rest since the six-run win over Incarnate Word at the Disch on March 12, Texas had all their arms ready for this out-of-conference matchup.

And considering Texas was facing the Pac-12's worst offense in batting average and runs scored this season, this was a tough pill to swallow.

Texas's pitching staff has been subpar at best this season against teams from the power conferences. Of the seven games the Longhorns have played against major conference opponents, they haven't allowed any fewer than six runs in any contest.

Texas falls to 10-7 (2-1 Big 12) following this series-opening loss to Washington on March 15. Washington moves to 5-7-1 (1-2 Pac-12).

Head coach David Pierce and the Longhorns must regroup entering Game 2 of this three-game weekend series against Washington. The first pitch between Texas and Washington in Game 2 of this series at the Disch is at 2:30 p.m. CT on March 16.

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