AUSTIN (KXAN) — As far as David Pierce is concerned, the Texas Longhorns are in the playoffs now.

The head coach said with the calendar turning to May, it’s time to start treating the remaining 10 regular season games like it’s the postseason. That begins Friday on the road against the Kansas Jayhawks.

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“It’s playoff baseball right now,” he said. “The implications are out there and we’ve got to go play well.”

Texas is a game out of second place in the Big 12 with a 10-8 record, and Kansas is near the bottom at 6-12. A series win on the road, like the one last weekend against TCU, is the goal so they can keep pace near the top. A sweep, however, is of course icing on the cake and would put them in a better position to challenge West Virginia for the top spot in the conference.

How’s Texas going to do that? Pierce said the team can accomplish that by “finding reliability,” and adhering to the sports cliche about teamwork, we before me.

“We’ve got to put all three phases together and be consistent,” Pierce said. “I believe in them. They just got to clear their minds and go compete. They have to get over themselves, get away from their own personal numbers and realize that we have to do everything possible to try to win every opportunity.”

Typically, baseball players need to think about what’s next rather than what’s behind them, but junior starting pitcher Lucas Gordon said the team is still mad about being swept by Oklahoma at home and they’re using that as fuel.

“Getting swept at home isn’t the best thing, but sometimes it is because you get kicked in the butt a little bit and it’s a taste of reality,” Gordon said. “It helped us to keep working and start competing a little more, and I think we’re going to bring it into this weekend.”

For Gordon specifically, who leads the Big 12 Conference with a 2.16 ERA and is fresh off a co-pitcher of the week selection by the Big 12, he said almost his entire identity as a pitcher is built on competing. Opponents are hitting just .190 off of him when he toes the rubber Friday nights.

“I don’t necessarily think I have the best stuff in the country, so in order for me to succeed, I have to compete at a higher level than a lot of these guys who have really good stuff,” he said. “I just have to realize who I am.”

Pitching has been quite an adventure for the Longhorns lately. In the past 11 games, Texas pitchers have walked 65 hitters, almost 32% of their total this season. Gordon’s steady performance this year is exactly what Pierce has in mind when talking about finding reliability. Gordon can set the tone of the series with a quality start on Friday, and then the rest of the team can fall in behind and do their part.

Since the Baylor series, freshman first baseman Jared Thomas is hitting .381, 16 for 42, to raise his season average to .281. In part due to his recent success, Pierce moved Thomas to the leadoff spot in the batting order. Having a first baseman hit lead-off isn’t exactly an everyday occurrence, especially given the recent history of middle-of-the-lineup sluggers Ivan Melendez and Zach Zubia, but Thomas is embracing the role.

“I didn’t have the best start to the season,” Thomas said. “I just stayed with the work and started getting a little better each game, and I guess Pierce felt that it was the right move to make.”

Thomas first slid into the top of the batting order against Texas State by necessity. Eric Kennedy served a one-game suspension for being ejected from the series finale against Kansas State, and Thomas said, “it kind of gave me a little bit of a chip on my shoulder.”

The first pitch of the series is scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday at Hoglund Ballpark.