Hello pitching. Hello defense.
You’re exactly what Texas wanted to see in its final tuneup before Big 12 play opens Friday against Baylor.
Like Kyle Walker coming back after a month-plus layoff to pitch three innings of one-run baseball. Or Pat McCrory needing just 10 pitches to get through two innings. Or left-handed reliever Keith Shinaberry completing another successful outing from the bullpen.
Texas pitchers showed during Wednesday night’s 7-1 win over Winthrop that Augie Garrido has options in the bullpen.
“Our pitching is really starting to find its way into a pitching staff,” Garrido said after watching five pitchers combine on the three-hitter.
It helps that McCrory and Shinaberry have each had two straight successful outings.
“They’re certainly going to be used on the weekends,” Garrido said after each pitched two scoreless innings.
But seeing Walker on the mound was Wednesday’s biggest bonus.
Walker, who experienced control problems early in the season and hadn’t pitched since Feb. 10, switched to pitching from the stretch and slowed down his motion.
He gave up one run, two hits and two walks in 42 pitches.
“I’m feeling good about it,” Walker said. “I’m just trying to do what I can for the team. I’m going to pitch my butt off if I’m out there. If I’m not out there I’m going to cheer my butt off.”
Garrido said Walker (1-0) is going to get a couple more weekday starts before putting him back in the weekend rotation.
No matter who was on the mound for the Longhorns (16-7), they had good defense behind them.
Nick Peoples made a key play in the third inning when Winthrop had the bases loaded and one out. Peoples slipped and fell while Bryn Henderson’s deep fly ball was in the air. He then got up and made the catch, preventing what could have turned into a three-run double.
“I wanted to get behind the ball, because I didn’t want the guy to get from second base to third,” Peoples said. “I guess I just took a drop step and slipped because it was wet. But I knew where the ball was going, so I knew if I got up in time I’d have a chance to catch it.”
The Horns also got nice defensive plays from right fielder Kyle Russell, who made an over-the-head catch at the wall, and shortstop Josh Prince, who scooped up a ball over second base and made a nice throw.
“We’ve played pretty good defense from the beginning,” Garrido said. “From day one we’ve been able to walk on the field and pick the ball up and throw it. (Josh) Prince makes us even better when he’s at shortstop.”
UT took control with three runs in the first inning — two on Russell Moldenhauer’s bases-loaded single — and three in the fifth, with two coming on Bradley Suttle’s home run.