Starting an inexperienced freshman against a future top MLB draft pick may not seem like a recipe for a series opening win against the No. 5 team in the nation, but David Pierce and Texas Longhorns baseball did exactly that.
Texas Longhorns baseball (9-4) took down the Stanford Cardinal (11-2) 8-6 in a massive series opening win on Thursday night at Disch Falk field.
Texas not only beat one of the best teams in the nation, but the ‘Horns methodically picked apart ace Stanford pitcher . The ‘Horns scored exactly one run in each of the first five innings — from an RBI DJ Petrinsky double in the second, to a Kody Clemens solo shot in the third.
Freshman Nico O’Donnell, whose only two appearances in his career were against Lamar and UTSA prior to tonight, cruised through the Stanford lineup for the first four innings. Granted, the Cardinal aren’t world-beaters at the plate, but O’Donnell showed why he could be a regular weekend starter. He gave up a two run homer in the fifth to allow Stanford to cut the Texas lead to 5-2, but O’Donnell’s final line was solid nonetheless: three hits, three walks, two runs, and five strikeouts in four complete innings.
Redshirt junior Josh Sawyer came on in relief for O’Donnell in the fifth and was able to get out of the inning without further damage. However, Sawyer struggled in the sixth, allowing two runs on an RBI single.
Freshman Bryce Elder then came on and also had trouble stopping the Cardinal rally. He got out of the sixth, but allowed an RBI single to bring the score to even at 5-5 in the seventh.
The ‘Horns were on the wrong side of momentum and could’ve easily rolled over, but Texas hitters fought back and put up a massive three run seventh inning. Reynolds first delivered with a clutch two out and full count base hit to score Masen Hibbeler from second.
Petrinsky then knocked his second double of the night to move runners to second and third for pinch hitter Austin Todd, who wasn’t expected to receive any at bats due to a thumb injury. Despite the injury, the sophomore delivered on a two-run RBI base hit to put the ‘Horns up 8-5 and create some breathing room again.
It was clear that David Pierce understood the importance of winning this opening series game, as he turned to Chase Shugart, who is expected to start Sunday, to close out the last two innings. Shugart was a bit wild at times, and allowed a run on a ground out RBI in the eighth.
However, the righty with a cannon for an arm was able to retire the Cardinal in the ninth inning without any damage, giving Texas an opening win over a top 10 team.
Most impressively, the ‘Horns were 12-33 (.364) from the plate against a stellar Stanford pitching rotation. Has Texas finally turned the corner and become a good hitting team?
The Longhorns and Cardinal will return for game two Friday evening at 6:30 pm. Nolan Kingham will get the start for Texas, while lefty Kris Bubic will get the nod for Stanford. You can catch the action on the Longhorn Network or 104.9 the Horn.