The Texas Longhorns are in need of every win they can muster as they try to salvage a season that started with lofty rankings and expectations. In what will be his last start at Disch Falk Field, senior starting pitcher Parker French gave the Longhorns everything he could, helping the team shutout Texas Tech, 3-0.
In six previous Big 12 series, Texas was 3-3 in opening games. In the three series they played against a team ahead of them in the standings, they lost â€“ in the three games facing a team behind them they won.
With the Red Raiders fourth in the league standings, only one spot ahead of the Horns, Friday nightâ€™s contest figured to be pivotal in the outcome of the series. French labored through 7.2 innings, allowing seven hits and three walks, but ultimately forced Tech to leave thirteen men on base.
Striking out seven Red Raiders en route to throwing 131 pitches, Frenchâ€™s dogged determination clearly set the tone for the Longhorns. Playing error-free, the Texas defense supported their starterâ€™s effort from when he toed the rubber in the first inning until the answered the crowd's curtain call.
The Longhorn offense struck for all three runs in the home half of the fifth inning. Collin Shaw jumpstarted the effort by leading things off with a double to right centerfield. Texas then scrapped their way to break the tie using an error by Tech, an RBI infield single from Michael Cantu, and a sacrifice fly from Joe Baker for the three runs.
Ty Marlow and Connor Mayes made the three-run margin stand firm in the final innings. Marlow retired the only batter he faced in the top of the eighth with two Tech runners on base. Mayes pitched a scoreless ninth frame while earning his second save of the season.
Texas and Texas Tech play the second game of their weekend series on Saturday at 2:00PM.
Opening Statement: â€œMy spotlight goes to Parker French and the pitching performance that he gave us. The big inning was the bases loaded [one] out [second inning] and getting out of that one with a zero. It was huge.
Getting our three runs, [We did so by] being opportunistic and getting the three runs. Joe Baker had an RBI with two strikes and had a good at bat to get the third run in, and it was a good rally. It was a legitimate rally. I thought the players played with their heads up. We talked about, "Are they down?" I didn't see that. I didn't see that at all. I've continued to say that they have the right spirit and that they have the right attitude because I really believe that they do. If they can start hitting with runners in scoring position, then we could beat anybody in America.â€
On Parker Frenchâ€™s performance: â€œI think he put another positive paragraph added onto his legacy here at The University of Texas in this game today. He's done a lot of great things academically and athletically here. He's a very special person on the academic side of it as well as the athletic side of it. Tonight was very special in a time where his team needed him most and his university needed him most.â€
On being opportunistic: â€œThat's right. I think the difference is that they executed. [Zane] Gurwitz's bunt put some pressure on them, and they threw the ball away because it was a pressure situation. If they hadn't [had] such a really good game, especially at shortstop, there would have been some other runs. That kid has amazing range.â€
On his final start at Disch Falk Field: â€œI mean maybe a few more leadoff men getting out, but other than that it was really good. It was awesome, a dream come true, blessing, all of those cliches. It was fun just to really go out and compete one last time here at [uFCU Disch-Falk Field] for all of these fans and for my family.â€
On fighting for the win: â€œThat's just in my character, it's in all of these guys' characters. As long as there's a chance, we're not going to give up, we're not going to give in. I just want to thank my teammates. I think they understood the magnitude of this being my last start here and maybe the last time I pitch on this field, and they backed me one hundred percent. They're very supportive, and I'm just really honored by that and honored by the fans' support out here. It's very humbling.â€
On lobbying for more work: â€œI just kind of reminded him that we have a little bit of a break with finals. I went with logic first, and then just told him that I really wanted this. I wanted this moment, and I wasn't ready to stop competing. I guess that worked, thankfully.â€
On throwing a career-high number of pitches: â€œI felt good. I felt like I had something left the whole time. I feel like with how I work in the offseason, I prepare myself to be able to throw 100 plus pitches. I did have to lobby for the seventh inning and luckily that was the quickest inning of the night, so I looked really smart on that one (laughs). In the eighth, Skip [Johnson] was kind of like how do you feel? I was like I feel the same as the last inning. I might as well keep doing it, so that was fun. I really enjoyed that. I really enjoyed getting a couple of extra innings there.â€
On his curtain call: â€œWell I've always thought it's unfair that only hitters get curtain calls (laughs), so that's the first thing I'll say about that. I told some of the guys that was one of the coolest moments of my life. Very emotional, but it was just awesome. It just shows the kind of support and love from the fans, and from my family as well who was here tonight. It was just awesome. It was how you want to go out. I'm extremely blessed and thankful.â€
On his emotions today knowing this would be his last start at home: â€œI was good today. I think it was my mom that was the most worked up out of all of us. I just knew that you can't think about all of the outside things in the game of baseball. You just have to compete one inning at a time, and I was just ready to go compete as hard as I could. I knew there was going to be ups and downs and there was going to be jams, and you've just got to compete through it all. That's really what I was thinking about all day while I was going to get breakfast with friends, or going to buy my mom's birthday gift, was let's go compete tonight.â€