Saturday night’s game against LSU saw the Texas Longhorns lose an up and down game which featured a bit of everything – lots of hitting, strong pitching, fielding errors, questionable calling, and wild pitches. The latter, along with key errors in the field really hurt Texas’ chances of taking this game in Baton Rouge.
Tonight, Texas faced LSU starting pitcher Caleb Gilbert who has appeared in 28 games (five starts), posting a 7-1 mark and a 2.16 ERA in 58.1 innings with a .190 opponent batting average all-time. Although Gilbert has had a rough start to the season, and lacks abundance of experience in the starting pitching role, the ‘Horns were facing a strong pitcher.
Chase Shugart got the start for the Longhorns tonight. Coming off his strong start against UL – Lafayette, he continued his momentum by having an efficient start to the game. With the defense having a cleaner game, Shugart was able to keep his pitch count at a minimum, and keep most of his pitches down in the zone to enable a lot of groundballs early in the game.
From the outset of the game, Texas seemed to be having the kind of start LSU enjoyed from yesterday’s game as the bats came alive. DJ Petrinsky got things rolling in the top of the second when he lined one into right-center for a two base knock. Zach Zubia, followed that up with a line drive two-run home run to give the Longhorns a two run lead. Despite back-to-back singles from Ryan Reynolds and Duke Ellis, LSU limited the damage with strong defense as the Tigers’ catcher Hunter Feduccia gunned down a Texas base runner trying to steal second.
Kody Clemens is one of a handful of Longhorns that had a good night at the plate as he hammered a hanging breaking ball over the right field fence to give the ‘Horns a three run lead going into the bottom of the third.
Following another efficient inning from Chase Shugart, Texas showcased some small ball as David Hamilton sacrifice bunted to move Duke Ellis to second. After a fielder’s choice that moved Ellis to third, and a Clemens intentional walk, Austin Todd beat out an infield single thrown from Tigers shortstop Hal Hughes to score Ellis. Longhorns led it four to zero.
The fifth inning of this ballgame was an interesting one to say the least, and one that would haunt the Longhorns for the rest of the night. Zach Zubia for the second time this game laced a solo home run to give the Longhorns extra cushion going into the bottom of the fifth. The power displayed only solidified why the BON writers believe this guy will lead the team in home runs this year.
Prior to this inning, LSU had only two base runners the whole game. LSU’s Bryce Jordan legged-out a double following an error by CF Duke Ellis. After a wild pitch from Shugart that moved Jordan to third, a bang-bang play scored Jordan with Brandt Broussard beating an infield single that hit Shugart in the leg.
Everything started to fall apart from that point on, as an awkward hop was too much to handle by Clemens as the Tigers’ Hal Hughes got an RBI double. With the crowd getting more involved, a hard hit ball to straight away center forced Duke Ellis to the warning track, but wasn’t able to catch the ball resulting in another run for LSU. Antoine Duplantis and Hunter Feduccia followed that with an RBI triple and RBI single, respectively to tie the game up at five.
In the aftermath of an ejection for LSU’s Beau Jordan, Shugart was then replaced by Josh Sawyer to stop the bleeding. I’m sure you can find a freeze-frame of the “gesture” issued by Jordan somewhere .
Both starting pitchers final numbers are below:
Caleb Gilbert: 4.0IP, 10H, 5R, 5ER, 2BB, 1K, 93 pitches
Chase Shugart: 4.2IP, 8H, 5R, 5ER, 0BB, 4K, 86 pitches
From that point on, LSU never looked back and took the lead in the seventh. Two wild pitches allowed the Tigers to take bases and have a free 90 feet closer to home plate. The second wild pitch from Bryce Elder gave way for Nick Webbe to score from third, and give the Tigers their first lead of the game. A groundball hit by Brandt Broussard scored another run for the Tigers, which extended the lead seven to five.
More strong pitching from the duo of Matthew Beck and Nick Bush from LSU kept the Longhorns bats silent. The Tigers got three more in the eighth inning off the combination of Beau Ridgeway and Bryce Verplank. The culprit of those runs were the fact that Texas tallied five wild pitches tonight and allowed runners to continue to get into scoring position.
Down five runs in the top of the ninth, Texas had the bases loaded with one out. However, the ‘Horns were unable to score a run following a Michael McCann flyout behind the catcher, and a strikeout by Sam Bertelson who pinch hit for Duke Ellis to end the game.
With a lot of new faces in the program, there are going to be lots of growing pains with a team trying to figure out how to win together. Maybe tonight was one of those frustrating nights, as they had the lead but couldn’t hold on to it. Many of the mistakes tonight are fixable, as getting to play tough competition this early in the season has its lessons.
One final thought on tonight’s game – Is it just me or does Texas really struggle against left-handed pitchers? Even going back to last year it seemed they could get nothing off southpaws. Just a thought.
Texas will be back in action Sunday in a game that got moved up to 1 P.M. CT to combat the weather in Baton Rouge. You can catch the game on the WatchESPN app or on SECN+ network.