On Saturday afternoon the Texas Longhorns (14-10) (4-1) defeated the Oklahoma State Cowboys (11-9-1) (1-1) 7-1 behind a solid team effort. It was a day in which everyone did their job and executed it to perfection. Whether it was using small ball tactics to move runners in scoring position, then capitalizing on those opportunities to bring runners in, or Nolan Kingham’s career day on the mound, Texas had it all going for them today.
Nolan Kingham got the start for the Longhorns today coming off a start in which he threw a complete game. Prior to Big 12 play, Kingham was really struggling to keep the ball in the bottom half of the strike zone, which resulted in teams teeing off on him. However, it seems he has really steered his season back in the right direction. Kingham gave the Longhorns another strong eight innings of work, limiting and gridlocking any possible momentum for the Cowboys.
The game remained scoreless until Texas broke through on the scoreboard in the third inning. In the top half though, Nolan Kingham had retired all nine batters he faced so far, providing evidence that he’s finding his rhythm. After a sacrifice fly by Masen Hibbeler that moved David Hamilton to third, Duke Ellis singled through the left side of the infield to put Texas up 1-0.
Texas added one run each in the following two innings to extend their lead 3-0. In the fourth, after seeing Zach Zubia open with a walk, Austin Todd bunted Zubia over to second to put a runner in scoring position. Later in the inning, a wild pitch allowed Zubia to score from third. In the fifth, Duke Ellis once again RBI singled with two outs to score Shaw from third.
Oklahoma State, unable to get anything going offensively, finally broke through in the sixth that cut the lead 3-1 when Colin Simpson singled to center field to score Matt Kroon from second. Despite the Cowboys gaining some momentum, Nolan Kingham would ultimately shut down their lineup for the rest of the game.
Texas gained separation in the bottom half of the sixth when DJ Petrinsky — who has really struggled with runners in scoring position this season (1-25 w/RISP) came through with a two-RBI double that scored Todd and Reynolds. Later, Petrinsky would score all the way from second off of a throwing error from the shortstop to first base resulting in a 6-1 Texas lead.
At this point in the season, Texas is 14-0 when leading after six, and 11-2 when scoring first. So a win was in a comfortable reach.
Nolan Kingham, still limiting opportunities for the Cowboy lineup, got an added insurance run in the bottom of the seventh. This time, Austin Todd sacrifice flied to right field to score Clemens from third to give the ‘Horns a 7-1 lead that would stay the same for the rest of the game.
Kingham’s day ended in the ninth inning after a career-high 117 pitches and only surrendering one run. Beau Ridgeway came in to relieve Kingham and would only have to face three batters to seal the victory for the ‘Horns. Kingham’s pitching stat line is listed below:
Nolan Kingham – 8.0IP, 1R, 1ER, 7H, 0BB, 5SO, 117 pitches
The Texas ace didn’t light up the strike out total, but had his sinker working all day that resulted in 11 groundouts. The bottom half of the Cowboys lineup, who lit it up last night, went 0-12 today. In addition, Kingham didn’t issue a single walk, which made it difficult for the Cowboys to generate base runners or runs.
On another note, Duke Ellis seems to be getting more and more comfortable batting second in the lineup. Ellis has 17 walks in the past 14 games, and had 2, 2-out RBI’s in today’s game. That is the kind of production that Pierce is going to enjoy seeing from his two-hole hitter. After all, the first two batters of a lineup have to specialize in getting on base.
Texas will be back in action for the rubber match tomorrow at 1:30 P.M. Although the Texas pitcher for tomorrow’s game is TBD, it’s most likely going to be Chase Shugart. The ‘Horns will face Cowboy pitcher C.J. Varela (1-0, 2.75). You can catch the game on the LHN or listen to it on 104.9 The Horn.