The Texas Longhorns, anchored by freshman Nico O’Donnell’s 5.1 shutout innings, blanked the UTSA Roadrunners 2-0 on Tuesday night at UFCU Disch-Falk Field. It was a dominating performance from the mound for the Horns, as four pitchers combined to throw a one-hitter, Texas’ first since 2015.
Texas was able to get on the board early in the game. David Hamilton, who added great defense to the game as well, led off the bottom of the first inning with a lead-off bunt single, and advanced to second with a UTSA throwing error. Masen Hibbeler followed with an RBI single to left field, and gave the Longhorns a quick 1-0 lead.
The only other score of the night would come in the bottom of the fifth inning, with a UTSA error playing a key part in scoring yet again. With two outs and the bases empty, Hibbeler was able to extend the inning with a walk. Kody Clemens was next up to the plate and put the ball in play with a single to left center field. Hibbeler was going to be safe at third, but in an attempt to get Clemens out on his way to second base, shortstop Josh Lamb, who had UTSA’s only hit of the game, threw the ball away. Hibbeler would easily score from third and the Horns would extend their lead to 2 runs.
The story of the night comes from the other end of the game, as 2 runs turned out to be plenty for Texas. Nico O’Donnell started the game for the Longhorns, and after a shaky first start to the season last week, he turned in an utterly impressive line:
Nico O’Donnell: 5.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 4 K, 0.00 ERA
This start, O’Donnell looked like he had a much better feel for the strike zone and control over his pitches than his start last week. The great pitching didn’t stop with O’Donnell, though, as Bryce Verplank relieved O’Donnell in the bottom of the sixth and would throw a perfect 0.2 innings.
In a bit of an interesting move, Pierce called on Beau Ridgeway to serve as the setup man instead of his typical closer role. Ridgeway answered the call with a six up, six down two inning performance. Nolan Kingham, who started Friday night’s game at LSU, came on for the save and allowed a lead-off walk, but thanks to a Hamilton - Clemens - Petrinsky double play, faced only three batters and secured the victory for the Horns.
Nico O’Donnell would receive his first career win, and Nolan Kingham earns his third career save and first since his freshman season in 2016.
It’s easy to look at the final score and see ghosts of Augie small-ball past. Texas was able to collect eight hits and two walks in the game, but were unable to string a lot of those chances together to create some real scoring opportunities.
A primary issue for the Horns this season has been a lack of consistency up and down the batting order, as most of the damage is done almost exclusively at the top. This night was no different. The 1-3 hitters of Hamilton, Hibbeler, and Clemens continued their combined hot start to the season, going 4/10 with two walks, and accounted for all of the games runs. The rest of the lineup however, could only muster a 4/19 collective effort with just one walk (a Tate Shaw HBP) to seven strikeouts.
This shouldn’t take away from what was Texas’ most dominating team pitching performance in years, however. In the end, you can’t lose if the other team never scores.
The Longhorns will look towards the weekend for their next game, where they will return to UFCU Disch-Falk Field on Friday night to take on Northwestern.