The first weekend road trip for No. 21 Texas Longhorns baseball had an ideal beginning on Thursday evening thanks to a 4-0 victory over No. 19 Stanford Cardinal at Sunken Diamond in California.
The shutout victory was the first of the David Pierce era with the ‘Horns and marked the best start of sophomore Nolan Kingham’s young career. In going a career-high 7.0 innings, Kingham also recorded a career high with eight strikeouts. He scattered three hits and three walks over that stretch before sophomore Beau Ridgeway closed out the game with two perfect innings of work.
The Texas bats got going quickly in the second inning, as a leadoff walk drawn by senior first baseman Kacy Clemens was followed by a single from junior second baseman Bret Boswell. In a nod to Augie Ball, junior left fielder Travis Jones scored Clemens with a bunt single.
It wasn’t until the 7th inning that the ‘Horns were able to score again, as Cardinal starter Kris Bubic pitched well over his six innings of work, allowing six hits and striking out nine Texas hitters. In that frame, senior center fielder Zane Gurwitz hit a solo home run to left field, his first of the season.
Ridgeway got some extra breathing room in the top of the ninth when the Longhorns loaded the bases and Clemens and Boswell worked walks for the final margin.
So while Texas drew six walks and executed the bunt successfully to take the early lead, the 12 total strikeouts continued a troubling trend early in the season — so far, Pierce’s team is having some trouble putting the ball in play with 91 strikeouts through 10 games.
In large part because of those struggles making contact, the Longhorns are only hitting .224 as a team.
Fortunately for the long-term outlook, there are experienced players on the team who are struggling right now who will likely get on track at some point this season, including Patrick Mathis (.200), Joe Baker (.222), Kody Clemens (.171), Jones (.235), and Gurwitz (.143).
Freshman third baseman David Hernandez has also been struggling significantly — he’s hitting .100 through 30 at bats, though he did break an 0-for-22 streak with a hit on Thursday.
On Friday evening, junior ace Morgan Cooper is set to take the mound at 8 p.m. CT. Pac-12.com will televise the game as Cooper goes for his second win of the season following his impressing outing last week against UConn.