The Texas Longhorns make their return to Austin after a roller-coaster weekend road trip in Baton Rouge. David Pierce’s team will take on UTSA at UFCU Disch-Falk Field.
Texas dropped the first game of the series to LSU, 13-4, with a rare poor outing from Nolan Kingham. The preseason Golden Spikes watch list nominee finished with a line as unusual and obscene as a wild Trae Young box score:
Nolan Kingham: 3.0 IP, 8 H, 8 R (4 ER), 2 BB, 3 K, 12.00 ERA
Texas looked to bounce back from Friday’s game, and Saturday saw the Horns jump out to an early 5-0 lead. However, during the fifth inning outfielder Beau Jordan flipped the switch for the Tigers, as LSU tied the game at five in that inning en route to scoring 10 unanswered runs. The Tigers held on to their five-run lead and won the game 10-5, along with the series.
Despite their previous performances, Texas absolutely trounced LSU to the tune of 11-1 on Sunday. Starting pitcher Blair Henley threw six shutout innings and took home Big 12 Pitcher of the Week honors, while every starter in the lineup for Texas reached base at least once in the game. More detailed recaps of the weekend series with LSU can be found here.
If you’re going to go 1-2 in a three-game series, it’s good to make the one win the last game since it provides momentum for the team moving forward. Given how dominating Texas was in their game three win, they should be carrying plenty of that momentum back with them as they return home to face a 2-4 Roadrunners team. UTSA, on paper, should be one of the less competitive teams UT will play out of conference this year. Texas is 24-5 all time against their San Antonio counterpart.
UTSA comes into Austin fresh off a sweep at the hands of a familiar foe in Texas Tech, in a series that ended just yesterday afternoon. The Roadrunners were shut down at the plate for most of the series, totaling just seven hits in the first two games with no runs. Overall, UTSA was outscored 18-6 against Tech over the three-day stand after losing yesterday 10-6. If anything, tonight’s game could provide as a make-shift measuring stick to see how Texas compares to Texas Tech through comparing box scores (albeit, a small number of box scores) against a common opponent.
Some players to watch for UTSA are infielder Bryan Arias and outfielder Ryan Stacy. Arias leads UTSA in HR (2), RBI (6), and slugging percentage (.609), while Stacy bats lead off and leads UTSA in BB (3) and on-base percentage (.421).
Starting Pitcher Preview:
Nico O’Donnell: 3.1 IP, 3 H, 1 R (1 ER), 3 BB, 2 K, 2.70 ERA
Jordan Rodriguez: 0.2 IP, 3 H, 4 R (0 ER), 1 BB, 0 K, 0.00 ERA
The pitcher duel for tonight will feature freshman Nico O’Donnell for Texas and senior Jordan Rodriguez for UTSA. In O’Donnell’s last outing, he was able to survive poor weather conditions and a rough first inning (2 H, 3 BB, 1 ER) to pitch the rest of the game relatively well in his first collegiate start. Rodriguez, an Arkansas transfer, will be looking to bounce back from a poor performance against San Francisco where he, unlike O’Donnell, was unable to escape the first inning.
Prediction: I expect Texas to ride their surge from Sunday into their game tonight. The Longhorns will need O’Donnell to pitch a good start to the game before Texas can hand it off to their bullpen. I also expect the offense to continue their roll from this weekend — especially look for Texas’ 1-3 hitters of David Hamilton, Mason Hibbeler, and Kody Clemens to keep up their hot start to the season, as they have gone a combined .346 with 15 R, 9 RBI, and 11 SB to start the year. This is a game Texas should easily win if they can carry over their performance from Sunday.