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Texas Baseball: Three Keys to Taking Series vs West Virginia

Mitch Lovell
Mitch Lovell

Texas Longhorns gather around outfielder Eric Kennedy (30) to celebrate a bases loaded home run against San Jos State at UFCU Disch-Falk Field on Friday, May 12, 2023 in Austin.  Photo: Aaron E. Martinez/American-Statesman / USA TODAY NETWORK

In what has been a roller coaster of a season, Texas still has a chance to win the Big 12. If the Longhorns sweep West Virginia and Oklahoma takes one game against Oklahoma State, they will be conference champions. No matter how high your expectations are or were for Texas Baseball, we can all agree that a Big 12 title would be an impressive feat in a rebuilding year.

Winning the Big 12 would do wonders in the case for Texas to be a Top-16 seed and host a Regional. Texas likely needs to sweep the Mountaineers and make a deep run in the Big 12 tournament next week to have a good case at a national seed. Here is what the Longhorns need to do in order to get that sweep or at the very least a series win at Disch-Falk this weekend.

Keep Producing Runs

Texas scored a whopping 46 runs last weekend against San Jose State. That includes a game 3 in which only 7 innings were played. Texas’ pitching has been inconsistent throughout the year, especially for those not named Lucas Gordon. A great way to combat pitching that struggles, especially in a bullpen like Texas’, is to score in bunches. The 'Horns have shown the ability to put up runs especially at home and that needs to be no different this weekend. West Virginia has scored 10 or more runs six times in Big 12 play. If Texas is going to take care of business this weekend, the offense must deliver.

Lebarron Johnson's Continued Success

Since David Pierce inserted Johnson as the Saturday starter vs TCU the last weekend in April, Texas is 3-0 in his starts. Johnson has gone a total of 18.1 innings in those starts, surrendering just 4 earned runs with 23 strikeouts and 2 walks. That is ace-level stuff and if you’ve watched Johnson during his mid-week starts this year, that shouldn’t come as a surprise. Johnson possibly has the best stuff on the pitching staff when he puts it all together. LBJ provides a 1-2 punch with Gordon that the Longhorns have been searching for all year and may have found it at just the right time.

Finding a Reliable Closer

The Texas closer position has been a not-so-fun roller coaster ride all season for David Pierce and company. Zane Morehouse has been the closer much of the year with several highs and lows along the way. He blew another save Friday against San Jose State and Pierce looks like he’s trying other options. In Game 3 against the Spartans, former weekend starter Travis Sthele was given the opportunity to close and earned his first save of the year. Look for Sthele to get another save opportunity this weekend should Texas be in position to close a game. This is a spot Pierce must figure out and figure it out quickly. Having a questionable closer is not a recipe for postseason success.

Series Schedule

Thursday at 6:30 p.m. - Texas LHP Lucas Gordon (5-1, 2.71) vs. WVU LHP Carson Estridge (3-0, 3.75)
Friday at 6:30 p.m. - Texas RHP Lebarron Johnson Jr. (6-2, 2.76) vs. WVU RHP Blaine Traxel (7-4, 3.23)
Saturday at 2:30 p.m. - Texas RHP Tanner Witt (1-1, 13.50) vs. WVU TBA

*All games will be televised on Longhorn Network

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