Texas’ Elder Matches Hype Against LSUColumns
AUSTIN, Texas — Bryce Elder didn’t have any trouble meeting the hype Friday night.
For the last few weeks, there’d been plenty of buzz about the Longhorns sophomore righthander. He was injured when we saw the ‘Horns in the fall but came back with a vengeance in January and turned plenty of heads, including David Pierce’s with his consistent and dominating performances.
He emulated those performances the first two weekends of the season against Louisiana and Purdue. Against the Cajuns, he struck out nine, didn’t allow a walk and allowed just one run and four hits in eight innings. Last weekend against Purdue, he struck out six and allowed no earned runs and just six hits in six innings against Purdue.
Those were stellar performances. No doubt about that. But the truest test for Elder came Friday in Austin with No. 2 LSU and one of the nation’s premier offensive lineups greeting the hard-nosed 6-foot-1, 230-pounder.
Once again, Elder didn’t disappoint. He was stellar, as the Longhorns surprised many with an 8-1 win over LSU in a game that got away from the Tigers in the latter innings.
“It’s pretty much what he does,” Pierce said about his righthander. “He does a great job of running the ball in, and his velocity is up so he can be even white-on-white in, and he’s up to 93 now. His best pitch is his cutter, so he’s able to handle that, especially to righthanders.
“But I thought he did a great job with it to lefthanders and not trying to do too much with it but kind of bury it under their hands,” he continued. “He has a four-pitch mix and he’s pretty good at it right now.”
Elder said after the game he typically attacks hitters with a true four-pitch mix, including a curveball and changeup, but that he didn’t have feel for those offerings tonight. Therefore, he went primarily fastball and cutter against the Tigers.
It didn’t take long for the righty to make a statement.
The first inning was an interesting test for Elder. Yes, it was early. But there was a noticeable buzz outside the stadium before the game and the atmosphere was equally electric. It mimicked more of a super-regional type of atmosphere than it did a standard non-conference series in early March. Would Elder handle it well?
Elder was solid in the first inning, but LSU scored a run after Zach Watson singled and later scored on a passed ball. The nerves were gone after that and he proceeded to get into a zone. Elder struck out the side in the second inning — all on cutters — and proceeded to show good stuff and pitch well in tight situations.
“I think in the first inning I tried to make pitches a little too good at times,” Elder said. “But when I came out in the second, I reset and just said ‘I’m going to make a pitch’. And I just went pitch-by-pitch and I looked up and it was the sixth inning.
“I really didn’t change my approach,” he continued. “I was going to go out and try go to pitch-by-pitch and make the best pitch I can to each hitter. I got into a groove and stuck with hit.”