Photo: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports
The Longhorns lost their fifth straight opening game in Omaha on Saturday, falling to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 7-3. Texas ace Pete Hansen took his second straight loss, and the Longhorns now find themselves facing a win-or go-home game on Sunday.
Here are three observations from Saturday's game at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha.
1. Pete Hansen simply didn’t have it on Saturday. It was clear early on that Hansen didn’t have his best stuff, similar to his last start against East Carolina. Hansen is the type of pitcher that relies heavily on command versus being able to rely strictly on his stuff. He struggled locating his pitches early and often. Notre Dame made hard contact virtually every at-bat and with his recent starts, Hansen may just be reaching fatigue from so many innings this year.
2. The heart of the Longhorn lineup struggled against the Irish. The 1-4 hitters went a combined 3-14 with 5 strikeouts. When those guys don’t deliver it’s really tough to produce runs, plain and simple. That hasn’t happened much this season, but it happened at the wrong time. This was the first game all season in which the Longhorns didn’t produce an extra base hit. In order to extend their season in Omaha against Texas A&M on Sunday, the bats will need to show up.
3. David Pierce lost the coaching battle. While this wasn’t the main reason the game went the way it did, it didn’t help Texas. Eric Kennedy really struggles against lefties, and he did so again. With Douglas Hodo on first multiple times, Kennedy popped out and struck out. With the speed Kennedy has it would’ve been worth the bunt attempt, especially with Hodo’s speed. Doing so may have eliminated possible double plays that came back to bite the Longhorns.
Texas and Texas A&M will meet at 1:00 PM in and elimination game on Sunday.