Texas Longhorns baseball (17-10, 3-3 Big 12) completed the sweep of the Kansas State Wildcats (15-9, 0-3 Big 12) on Sunday with a 6-5 victory. The ‘Horns had been on a four-game losing streak last week, but Texas’ masterful pitching has returned to lead the Longhorns to the win column again.
The Longhorns kicked off the home stand with a 2-0 win on Friday. Friday starter Nolan Kingham (3-2) continued his remarkable season with a complete game shut-out of the Wildcats, allowing only four hits and two walks along the way. The sophomore now boasts a 0.77 ERA.
Kingham didn’t get a ton of run support on Friday, but the Longhorns did manage six hits. Catcher Michael McCann scored Travis Jones on a fielder’s choice in the third inning, and Jones would later knock Austin Todd home in the fourth inning to make the score 2-0.
On Saturday, MLB prospect Morgan Cooper took the mound for Texas and delivered a performance perhaps even better than Kingham’s. Cooper went eight full scoreless innings, striking out eleven hitters and giving up only two hits. Beau Ridgeway closed in the ninth inning and blanked Kansas State for Texas’ second straight shut-out.
Texas’ bats had a little more life on Saturday, as the ‘Horns hit 9-31 as a team. Still, the Longhorns utilized methods other than hits to generate runs — a second inning David Hamilton bases loaded walk, a fourth inning Tate Shaw bunt, and a Kacy Clemens ground-out in the same inning was how Texas got things to 3-0. Kacy Clemens hit an RBI double to score Shaw in the sixth, and in the eighth, Ryan Reynolds knocked the speedy Tyler Rand home on a single to make it 5-0.
Sunday was a bit of a more up-and-down game for Texas. Freshman Blair Henley held a 2-0 lead after the Longhorns scored on a throwing error and a sac fly in the fourth. However, Henley would break Texas’ 30 scoreless inning streak when he got off track in the top of the fifth. The inning began with a lead-off walk, followed by a single and then another walk to load the bases. Henley then got the batter to ground into a double play, but allowed a runner to score in the process to make it 2-1.
Henley was then replaced by Chase Shugart, and Texas began to get rocky with two outs. Three additional runs would score in the inning to make it 4-2 in favor of the Wildcats.
In the bottom of the sixth, Texas responded. With one out and the bases loaded due to a Kody Clemens double, and David Hamilton and Ryan Reynolds walks, Travis Jones hit a bases clearing double to bring the score to 5-4. Jones then stole third for good measure, but Texas couldn’t capitalize as Tate Shaw fouled out and Kacy Clemens struck out to end the inning.
In an inning that included four fielder’s choices (two of which didn’t result in any outs), Kansas State fought back and earned a run on — you guessed it — a fielder’s choice.
With the score knotted at five in the eighth, Kody Clemens gave the ‘Horns the final boost they needed with a solo shot to left field to make it 6-5.
Beau Ridgeway came on for Shugart in the bottom of the eighth and sealed the deal after allowing just one hit and no walks in his six outs. The sweep was completed for the Texas one week after the ‘Horns were swept themselves at the hands of Texas Tech.
Pitching MVPs — Nolan Kingham and Morgan Cooper, who combined for 17 innings pitched, sixteen strikeouts and only six hits this weekend. Kingham and Cooper are far and away Texas’ two best pitchers. Blair Henley has been adequate as a Sunday pitcher, but has certainly had freshman growing pains as he has a 4.30 ERA. I would be interested in seeing Kyle Johnston reclaim that third starting role, because using him as a relief pitcher has thus far been a failed experiment.
Position Player MVPs — Jones was responsible for five of Texas’ 13 runs this weekend in the form of RBIs or runs scored. Most notably, Jones hit a clutch bases clearing double that helped Texas take the lead 5-4. Jones was 5-13 on the weekend at the plate. Shaw went 3-6 in the first two games against Kansas State and now has a team second-best .359 average. The redshirt sophomore also made a Sports Center Top 10 play in the fourth inning on Sunday with an incredible home run saving catch.
Up next for the ‘Horns is a road trip to play Texas A&M—Corpus Christi for a mid-week game on Tuesday at 6:30 PM CST.