The first pitch was at 5:05 p.m., but Texas didn’t look ready to play until well after 6 p.m. in its Tuesday night 5-3 loss to Sam Houston State.
The Longhorns came out looking flat at UFCU Disch-Falk Field. Texas (6-2) came into the ballgame with a big showdown in Palo Alto, Calif. this weekend against No. 15 Stanford on the horizon.
There are a lot of new faces on this year’s Texas baseball team, and with the first road trip of the season coming up against a nationally ranked opponent, it’s easy to see how the Horns could have come into this mid-week contest thinking more about the Cardinal than the Bearkats.
Texas coach Augie Garrido had his players stay in the clubhouse afterward to flush out what exactly happened to be so unprepared to play from the opening pitch. Whatever the young Longhorns were thinking about, it sure wasn’t the Bearkats. At least not until they were already behind.
“Early in the game we might not have been ready,” junior right fielder Mark Payton said.
Sam Houston State pitcher Tyler Eppler retired the first 12 Texas batters he faced before Payton - the lone Longhorn with multiple hits with a 3-for-4 night - led off the fifth inning with a base hit. Eppler was locating his off-speed pitches well, and in what may be becoming an alarming trend, it took the Texas batters far too long to adjust at the plate.
Texas right-hander Cameron Cox made his first start as a Longhorn, and it took him a while to get into a groove. Sam Houston State (4-4) hit Cox hard from the start, and capitalized with two runs in the second when Hayden Simerly and Ryan O’Hearn smashed a double and triple, respectively, to right field.
In the fourth it was Spence Rahm who sent a 1-0 pitch from Cox over the left field fence to give SHSU the lead, 3-0.
Texas closed the gap in the sixth when Matt Moynihan blasted a 2-0 pitch off of the right field wall, scoring left fielder Ben Johnson. Taylor Stell then followed that up with an RBI ground out to short to bring the score to 3-2.
The Longhorns were embarrassed at Stanford a year ago, losing three games by a combined score of 28-4. This weekend is a huge early test for a Texas ball club ready to prove it’s back after a disastrous 2012 season.
“If you see the team grow from (this game) it was an important loss,” Garrido said. “If you see the team start to doubt themselves and not be able to figure it out, then we have a different group of guys than we thought we had.”