AUSTIN (KXAN) — After a wild 17-11 win over Incarnate Word on Tuesday, the Texas Longhorns are riding an 11-game winning streak into the Big 12 Conference opening series against Texas Tech.
The three-game set begins Friday at UFCU Disch-Falk Field and is on the back end of a 14-game homestand, but the Longhorns know the Red Raiders will present a much larger challenge than anyone else they’ve played at the friendly confines the past two weeks.
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“We’ve been able to make some really good adjustments when you look at communication on the field pre-pitch and with the ball in play,” Longhorns head coach David Pierce said. “We’ve done a good job of taking care of business, and now it’s time we go out and see how we fare in the Big 12.”
The Red Raiders are 18-4 on the season and ranked No. 14 in the D1Baseball.com national poll, and the series in Austin will be the second road trip of the year for them. They have played 19 of their 22 games at Rip Griffin Park, and the other three were in Houston at the Shriners Children’s Collegiate Classic.
The Longhorns have also played a lot at home with one true road series against Cal State-Fullerton and the College Baseball Showdown tournament in Arlington. Texas Tech has already played a series in the Big 12, winning two out of three against the Oklahoma State Cowboys in Lubbock. The Red Raiders needed extra innings to beat the Cowboys in the opener 8-7, then dropped the middle game 9-4 before 10-running the visitors 12-1 in seven innings to capture the series.
Even after winning 11 consecutive games, the Longhorns are still not on the national radar. It makes sense in a way because the six teams they’ve beaten during the streak are a combined 58-67, but Pierce said the team has built confidence during the stretch.
“We’re learning how to win and build our own identity,” Pierce said. “We’re starting to see some flow in our offense and we’re getting our staff ready to work around our five best arms.”
One player that the Longhorns will have to try to contain used to wear the same uniform. Gavin Kash transferred to Texas Tech at the end of last season and is putting together a terrific year for the Red Raiders so far. He’s hitting .440 with seven home runs and a .791 slugging percentage. Kash ranks tied for 24th in Division I with his average and No. 44 in slugging, and while theoretically, he could be having the same success in burnt orange instead of scarlet and black, Pierce said, “he was trying to do the right thing.”
He said with the way the transfer portal is now, it puts coaches in a position to talk to players about adjusting scholarships, and Pierce said since the portal closed July 1 last year, he felt compelled to talk to players like Kash so if “they didn’t feel comfortable with that,” then they could enter the transfer portal and not lose any eligibility to play somewhere else.
He said if the decision is made too late, then the player is stuck either having to take out student loans or having to sit out a year after transferring, and Pierce said he didn’t feel right waiting to make that decision.
“At the end of the day, I want it to work out for players,” Pierce said. “Gavin Kash was outstanding when he was here. He fit in well, it just didn’t work out for him to stick around for the next year.”
First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m. Friday with left-hander Lucas Gordon (2-0, 1.37) taking the mound for the Longhorns. Right-hander Brenden Girton (2-0, 4.50) will start for the Red Raiders.