Texas won its home opener on Friday night 6-5, getting a superb starting performance from Parker French (7 IP, 0 ER, 3 H, 6 K), fantastic offensive nights from Mark Payton (4-5, 3 RBI, 2 R) and CJ Hinojosa (3-3, 1 BB) and an unbelievable debut from Ty Marlow.
Texas jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first thanks to an infield single by Taylor Stell, a stolen base, bloop single by Erich Weiss and a safety squeeze by Payton. That lead grew to 6-0 through 7 innings as French worked around a pair of defensive errors and helped himself by not walking anybody.
Things got hairy in top of the eighth when Toller Boardman's debut went about as badly as it could have. Boardman gave up a single, a double, a HBP and a walk to the only four batters he faced all night before being replaced by the usually dominant Corey Knebel. Knebel entered with the Horns up 6-1 and departed four batters later with Texas leading 6-5 after giving up a double, a single and two walks. It wasn't an easy spot for Knebel to enter the game so we'll forgive him so opening day jitters.
Marlow entered the game with Sacramento State having the bases loaded, nobody out, and all of the momentum. The play of the night came when Jacob Felts managed to pick off Hornets center fielder David Del Grande at third base for the first out of the inning. A bloop single reloaded the bases but a pop out and strikeout ended the inning and secured the season opening win for Texas.
There was a lot to like for Texas in this win, including a season high 14 hits, three stolen bases and terrific burnt orange debuts from Marlow and Hinojosa. It took 16 games a year ago for Texas to total 14 hits, so the Horns certainly showed more pop in their bat thus far than they had in 2012. Madison Carter (0-4) and Codey McElroy (0-4, 5 LOB, 1 error) had forgettable debuts but the beauty of baseball is that they'll get another chance tomorrow.
As Augie put it after the game, Texas won eight of the nine innings last night but could have very easily lost. Six of the top ten teams in the country either lost or played a one run game, so there is nothing to be ashamed of in this win. Texas got some great performances and some not so great performances, but Marlow's two heroic innings stand out as the type of balls-to-the-wall pitching that Texas thoroughly lacked in 2012. After the game Augie said Marlow "is not an All-American, and is not a professional prospect, but plays like he's six-foot-five and has a giant heart."
Finding out about a guy like that on the first night of the season is pretty neat.
Nathan Thornhill takes the mound at 2 PM today as the Horns go for a series victory. Join us here for an open thread.