It took more than four and a half hours to complete, but the Texas Longhorns (16-10) were able to pick up a victory in San Marcos on Tuesday night with a 6-1 win over the Texas State Bobcats (14-9-1). Texas was able to secure a victory by calling on their old-fashioned brand of play — disciplined hitting and good defense and pitching.
Despite only notching four hits in the game, the ‘Horns were still able to put runners on the bases with a whopping 11 free passes (6 walks and 5 HBP) issued from the opposing pitching staff. Defense also played a pivotal role in this game for Texas, as the Longhorns were able to make timely stops (Texas State left seven runners on base) and limited the Bobcats to just five hits and a single run that came in the bottom of the ninth down 6-0.
Nico O’Donnell started the game for Texas, and immediately found himself in a jam in the bottom of the first. O’Donnell gave up a lead-off single and two walks to load the bases with two outs, but was able to escape the inning after a line drive was barely scooped up and caught by center fielder Duke Ellis.
From that point of the game, the Texas pitching staff was pretty much lights out. O’Donnell finished with two more shutout frames, facing the minimum six batters, and recorded an extremely Nico O’Donnell stat line:
Nico O’Donnell: 3.0 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 51 Pitches
In the top of the fourth inning, the ‘Horns got to work putting runs on the board. Leadoff batter Duke Ellis was hit by a pitch, and advanced to second on a balk. Ryan Reynolds, doing his best Duke Ellis impression, was also hit by a pitch to put two on for Texas with just one out. A Masen Hibbeler single through the left side then scored Ellis and gave Texas its first run and lead of the day.
David Hamilton, who, fun fact, is from San Marcos, followed up with an infield single to third to load bases and bring Zach Zubia to the plate. Zubia walked in a run to put up Texas 2-0, and Austin Todd followed him up with an RBI ground out to push the lead to 3-0.
In the bottom of the fourth, Parker Joe Robinson threw a 1-2-3 inning, and heading into the top of the fifth, the ‘Horns led 3-0.
Then, the inevitable rain found its way down I-35 and onto Bobcat Field.
After a roughly 90 minute rain delay, freshman Matteo Bocchi entered the game to pitch for Texas, and threw two scoreless innings. Kam Fields relieved Bocchi in the seventh inning, and added a 1-2-3 inning to get Texas to the top of the eighth with their three-run lead still intact.
In the eighth inning, Texas added some insurance runs to their score courtesy of a two-run home run off the bat of none other than... David Hamilton? The home run was Hamilton’s first of his career, and, in case you missed the 104.9 broadcast or any of the Texas baseball tweets about the game, it must have been extra special considering Hamilton is from San Marcos.
Texas added one more run in the top of the ninth off of a Ryan Reynolds RBI single. To close out the game, Beau Ridgeway was called upon, but surrendered a run in the process. However, Ridgeway was able to force a ground out to second, sealing the midweek road victory for Texas with a final score of 6-1.
As I mentioned above, the way Texas won this game was through capitalizing on their scoring opportunities and minimizing those opportunities for Texas State. This game was long, at times messy, but a road win is a road win.
It’s also especially encouraging to see how well the bullpen can pitch when they are locked in and dealing. Though O’Donnell needs to (and hopefully will) improve his K/BB ratio, the rest of the pitching staff took control of the game and never really allowed Texas State a chance to get back in it once the Longhorns went up 3-0.
[Side note from today’s game: Tate Shaw was hit by a pitch an absurd three times tonight. Gotta love smallball.]
The Longhorns will stay on the road for their next series, with the Little Apple of Manhattan, Kansas as the next stop. Texas will begin the three-game series against Kansas State (13-12, 0-3 in Big 12) on Thursday night at 6:30 p.m. CT.