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Texas can’t cash in on opportunities, gets outplayed by Northwestern 6-2 in game one

Texas had many opportunities tonight but couldn’t formulate any runs from their bats as they fall to Northwestern 6-2 in game 1.  

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Kody Clemens
Texas Sports — @TexasBaseball Twitter

Tonight, the ‘Horns faced off against Northwestern freshman pitcher Quinn Lavelle. So far this season, he has posted a record of 1-1 with an ERA of 3.72 on nine plus innings of work. He comes to into Austin leading the team in innings pitched and having a share of the lead in strikeouts (nine). It’s also worth noting that he has given up the only two home runs Northwestern has allowed.

Chase Shugart got the start on the mound tonight for the Longhorns, moving up from his usual Saturday spot. Looking to bounce back from a fifth inning debacle in the LSU series, Shugart started out as efficient as you can be – three up, three down issuing three groundouts to start the game on five pitches.

Following Levelle’s solid start from the mound, Northwestern was the first to crack the scoreboard. Shugart started the inning by giving a rare free pass to Willie Bourbon. The Wildcats followed that with two back-to-back singles that resulted in Bourbon scoring. With runners on second and first and one out, Ryan Reynolds single handedly ended the inning with a smooth double play from third.

Subsequent to Shugart’s 1-2-3 inning, Texas got one back in the bottom of the third to tie the game. With the game coming to a leisurely pace, McCann and Ellis got on base with a walk and infield single, respectively. Masen Hibbeler then got on base thanks to an error from the third baseman, giving the ‘Horns bases loaded with one out. Kody Clemens gave the Longhorns their first run of the game with a groundout to first that resulted in McCann scoring from third. Texas had the bases loaded again in the inning, but unfortunately couldn’t cash in more runs.

Similarly to his previous inning, Shugart was locked in for the fourth handing out two strikeouts and a 1-2-3 inning. Although Texas was involved in a lot of three ball counts tonight, and having runners in scoring position, the Longhorns couldn’t get one across in the bottom of the fourth. At this point, Texas was 0-5 in RISP, with five left on base. Those numbers would get worse as the night went on.

In spite of the fact that it’s an early season, Chase Shugart once again struggled in the fifth inning. I’m not going to call it a wall, yet, but the Wildcats took advantage of Shugart’s inability to keep the ball down in the zone. Shugart hit two batters and allowed two hits resulting in Jack Kelly getting his first hit of his career that drove in two runs that extended the lead for the Wildcats 3-1.

Texas would get one back in the bottom half of the fifth as Masen Hibbeler lead off with a hard hit single. Zach Zubia followed that up with a frozen rope to opposite field that scored Hibbeler. As Lavelle’s night came to end, so did the Texas bats it seemed. Pitching line for Lavelle is as follows:

Quinn Lavelle – 4.1 IP, 5H, 2R, 1ER, 5BB, 2K, 93 pitches

Jack Dunn lead off the top half of the sixth with a solo home run, providing extra cushion to Northwestern’s lead. After an Alex Erro single to center field, and more aggressiveness on the base paths from Northwestern, a Lind sacrifice fly scored Erro from third base to increase the lead 5-2 for the Wildcats.

Shugart’s night came to an end in the seventh, as Bryce Elder came in for relief. Shugart’s pitching line is as follows:

Chase Shugart – 6IP, 6H, 5R, 5ER, 1BB, 6K, 85 pitches

The combination of Bryce Elder and Josh Sawyer kept the Wildcats scoreless in the top half of the seventh and eight innings. Unfortunately, Texas’ bats weren’t much better. The only thing worth noting throughout these innings was that Kody Clemens extended his hitting game streak to nine games.

Northwestern got another one in the top of the ninth inning following an RBI triple from David Dunn who had one hell of a night at the plate. Texas having one last chance in the bottom half of the ninth ended with the ‘Horns unable to get any base runners. Northwestern relief pitcher Tommy Bordignon possibly tied David Dunn as having the most impressive night, as he retired all night batters he faced.

This game certainly highlighted the fact that Texas still needs to improve at the plate with runners in scoring position. The Longhorns went 0-7 with RISP with 10 left on base. Quite abysmal.

Tonight was especially disappointing due to the fact that the Longhorns were facing one of the worst pitching staff’s (statistically) in the country. Texas won’t be able to rely on their pitching for EVERY single game this season, so the ‘Horns have to get better at driving in runs to make it easier on their starting pitching. Sure, Chase Shugart didn’t have his best stuff tonight, but the bats need to show some sort of consistency this season. Texas moves to 5-4 on the year and looks to get back on track for the remainder of the series.

Texas will be back in action tomorrow at the Disch for a double-header. First game starts at 1:30 P.M. CT and the second is still TBD. If you are unable to head to the game, you can watch it on the Longhorn Network.