Sometimes, you don’t just lose, but you lose in absolutely devastating fashion. Despite an incredible seven run, two-out rally in the top of the ninth to tie the game at ten, the Texas Longhorns (16-12, 5-3) lost 11-10 on a walk-off single to the Kansas State Wildcats (15-12, 2-3). This is the Longhorns’s second straight loss, and will be the first Big 12 series loss of the year.
Nolan Kingham got the start for the ‘Horns, and simply put, just didn’t look sharp in this one. Kingham let K-State get on the board first allowing two back-to-back doubles that plated one in the bottom of the first inning.
Texas would answer, though, in the top of the second. Outfielder Andy McGuire, making his first start for UT in nearly four years (April 22, 2014), blasted a solo shot to center field for his first career home run, tying the game 1-1.
First career homer for @AMcGuire_1. Touch 'em all, Andy. pic.twitter.com/XE2ORd1iUy— Texas Baseball (@TexasBaseball) March 31, 2018
Kansas State would touch up Kingham again in the bottom of the second. After a double and a ground-out, K-State had a runner at third when Kingham let a pitch get away from him. The wild pitch scored the runner, and K-State would regain the lead at 2-1.
Kingham would exit the game after the second. Nico O’Donnell would replace Kingham, but wouldn’t do much better than his predecessor. After walking two Wildcats, O’Donnell was able to get two outs and a chance to escape the inning unscathed. But with two outs and two on base, K-State would score three off a three run home run to left field to pump their lead up to 5-1.
Texas would respond the top of the fourth with two runs of their own. Jake McKenzie would plate McGuire and Petrinsky with a bases loaded, two-out, two RBI single.
The scoring would stall for each team for a whole two innings in this game, which, for tonight at least, was a huge gap in offensive production. Unfortunately, the team to break the scoreless streak was K-Sate, and they broke it with a huge sixth inning.
With Bryce Elder pitching, and with two outs, K-State was able to get two runs in off a single to right center. Kameron Fields would come in relief for Elder, but he inherited Elder’s situation and wasn’t able to stop the bleeding.
With runners on second and first, Fields walked the first batter he faced and loaded the bases. The next batter would single through the left side, scoring two and increasing the K-State lead to 9-3. With runners on third and second, Fields would escape the inning by inducing a ground-out to third base, but the ‘Horns would enter the seventh trailing 9-3.
The next scoring event of the game came in the bottom of the eighth. Verplank would come in to relieve Fields, and would immediately give up a triple to the K-State lead-off hitter. Verplank eliminated the situation of having a runner on third with no outs, though, by throwing a wild pitch that would score the runner from third. Eventually, Verplank would find himself with one out and the bases loaded after walking two and hitting one. Texas was able to escape with a 6-4-3 double play.
Texas came into the top of the ninth down 10-3, and you’d be hard pressed to find anyone in the stadium that didn’t believe this would be a quick inning and game over for the ‘Horns. After Tate Shaw led things off with a single, Clemens would single and move Shaw over to third. A Hibbeler line-out between Shaw and Clemens and a Reynolds pop up would put the ‘Horns in a seemingly insurmountable hole, down to their last out on the road. It didn’t look good for Texas.
Of course, if you read the title, you know what happened next.
Big Ol’ Zach Zubia would single up the middle and knock in Tate Shaw to make it 10-4 K-State. After a McCann walk loaded the bases, Andy “I haven’t started in four years” McGuire capped his incredible night at the plate with a two RBI single back up the middle to make it 10-6.
K-State would call for a pitching change, bringing in their closer with two in scoring position and two outs in a four run game. A David Hamilton walk loaded the bases yet again for Texas. And just like the inning started, Tate Shaw roped a hit into the outfield. This time it went for a double, and this time, with three men on base, all three would score, tying the game for Texas and capping off a furious seven run, two out rally.
.@tatershaw22 started this 9th inning with a single.— Texas Baseball (@TexasBaseball) March 31, 2018
Two outs and a trip through the order later, he tied the ballgame with a bases-loaded double. #HookEm pic.twitter.com/1p5prrzDbl
Of course, if you read the title, you know what happened next.
Beau Ridgeway was called on to pitch the bottom of the ninth, with the ‘Horns now breathing new life into this game and eyeing a chance at extra innings. K-State would get a lead-off single off Ridgeway’s second pitch of the game. The very next pitch hit the batter, and placed two Wildcats on base with no outs. After a called strike, Ridgeway hit another batter. After just five pitches, Ridgeway had loaded the bases.
It only took three more pitches for the inevitable to happen. On a 2-0 offering, K-State was able to whack a single up the middle. One would score, and the life Texas had breathed into this ballgame was sucked out quicker than a dementor as K-State walked off in Manhatten 11-10.
Obviously, there’s both good and bad talking points in a game like this. Andy McGuire’s return to the starting order was just shy of perfect, as he went three for four with a HR, three RBI, and a walk. Tate Shaw and Jake McKenzie each had three RBIs. The ninth inning was truly special, and to score seven runs to tie the game, all with two outs, took an incredible amount of poise and resiliency that shouldn’t go unnoticed.
Unfortunately, when you lose as quickly Texas did, those things will probably go unnoticed.
The pitching staff today was downright awful - not a single Longhorn was able to record a 1-2-3 inning. Seriously, look at the boxscore. As a team, Texas issued eight walks, hit five batters, and allowed thirteen hits, while only punching five strikeouts. Two runs were scored by K-State off of wild pitches. That kind of performance Texas got from the mound as a collective unit didn’t cut it last night, and there’s no way it’ll cut it for a team with hopes of regionals and super regionals in the future.
Looking forward, Texas will close out their series at K-State with a game today against the Wildcats at 1:00 PM CST. The game can be streamed on ESPN3, or you can hear the call on 104.9 The Horn.
Though the ‘Horns can’t win the series now, every Big 12 game matters, and winning the last game of the series is a way to build momentum heading on to your next opponent. Hopefully Texas can just that later today.