AUSTIN, Texas - - A funny thing will happen at UFCU Disch-Falk Field Friday.
The No. 25 Longhorns, wait for it, will be the home team in a conference series for the first time this season.
Texas (18-12) hasn’t actually played a true home series since March 11 when it played a doubleheader against Loyola Marymount.
“I’m not really used to this,” Longhorns ace Nathan Thornhill said. “It’s a Friday night at home … it’s supposed to rain so we play a doubleheader on Saturday. That’s how it usually happens now.”
The weather actually calls for sunny skies tomorrow, which could mean doom and gloom for Oklahoma State (17-14).
Texas, which came out of those three road series in a second-place tie with Texas A&M at 7-2 in the Big 12, owns a 1.43 ERA in 12 games at home this season. Thornhill, who is scheduled to pitch the series opener, has tallied 16 1/3 shutout innings at home, allowing nine hits and three walks while striking out 15.
“It’s going to be really exciting,” he said. “I think it will be a different atmosphere than what we have seen so far this year by having a conference series at home for the first time. We got a little feel for it when we played Cal at the Dell Diamond [in Round Rock] because the fans were a little bit louder than what we’ve seen on Tuesday nights here.”
Home might be where the heart is, but success was definitely found on the road with Texas sweeping Oklahoma and winning series against Kansas State and Texas Tech.
“I feel like we did extremely well on the road,” first baseman Alex Silver said. “It’s pretty tough with the young team we have to go on the road, especially at Tech and OU.”
Thornhill echoed those sentiments: “I’d say we came out pretty good. You never want to lose any games but going 7-2 in the Big 12 is good so far. You want to get out of them with sweeps but getting out of Texas Tech with only one loss with their fans the way they are. After dropping the first one at Kansas State and winning the last two is big too.”
Texas won those seven games in large part to the continued success it has had at the plate. The Longhorns were hitting .212 entering their midweek game against No. 20 Texas State on March 13, but have since raised their average 69 points in their last 16 games.
That is in large part to reigning Big 12 Player of the Week Erich Weiss, who is hitting (.464), Jonathan Walsh (.403) and Mark Payton (.362). Silver is currently riding a 16-game hitting streak.
The Longhorns can only hope that they’ll find similar success at a place they feel extremely comfortable with.
“I’ve talked to other people that have played here on away teams and they say the environment is really tough to play in,” said Silver, who owns a .972 fielding percentage since becoming the starting first basemen 13 games in. “All of us become very comfortable here. It’s going to be really nice having everyone here to cheer for us. We know how the ball bounces here. It’s going to be nice.”
Oklahoma State swept Kansas last weekend in Stillwater to move to 4-5 and in fourth place in the Big 12. The Cowboys, like Texas, are young and boast 18 different players who have made their debuts this season.
“They are going to be good,” Thornhill said. “They are the only team to beat us two out of three times last year so they are going to be a scrappy team. We are just going to have to come out and play some scrappy Texas baseball.”