On Tuesday evening, the Texas Longhorns (22-13) endured a loss at the hands of the Texas A&M Aggies (24-9), 6-5, at Olsen Field at Blue Bell park in College Station. The game featured a whole lot of pitching as both bullpens were put to work throughout the contest — between the two teams, a total of 13 pitchers were used.
For most of the game, it was clear that the better bullpen would ultimately prevail. And so it was.
Texas decided to throw out their usual midweek starter in Nico O’Donnell against fellow Texas A&M freshmen pitcher Chandler Jozwiak. In a road rivalry game, one would assume a freshmen pitcher would have his struggles — and O’Donnell certainly demonstrated a few.
The bubbles at Blue Bell Park were flying early and often, as the Aggies were the first to get on the board. Texas A&M has been tremendous all year in the first inning, outscoring the opposition 37-4. After surrendering two straight walks to load the bases, Will Frizzell sent an RBI single to center field to get the Aggies on the board. Jake McKenzie deflected the relay throw and DJ Petrinsky couldn’t come up with it to advance the runners to second and third.
And just like that, O’Donnell’s day was done after a third of an inning. After David Pierce made the move to bring Kamron Fields in for relief, Cole Bedford singled to center field to extend the Aggie lead to 4-0.
Texas had a great opportunity in the top half of the third to at least cut the lead in half, but stranded three runners. Masen Hibbeler advanced Austin Todd and Tate Shaw with a sacrifice bunt following back-to-back singles. Unfortunately, after a walk to Zach Zubia that loaded the bases, David Hamilton popped up to the infield and ended the threat.
Fields and fellow reliever Matteo Bocchi kept the Longhorns in the game, as they blanked the Aggie offense in innings two through four. The defense also had their share of big plays, then were able to land a haymaker of their own in the fifth as they put up three runs to chip away at the Texas A&M lead. With runners on first and second, Kody Clemens doubled to left field to score both Shaw and Hibbeler to cut the lead in half.
Zach Zubia then followed up on a RBI single of his own to score Clemens for a 4-3 A&M lead. Unfortunately, later in the inning the Longhorns had the bases loaded once again with one out, but Jake McKenzie grounded into a double play to end the inning.
After Texas seemingly took back some of the momentum, Texas A&M then extended their lead 6-3 in the bottom half of the sixth. With two outs, runners on second and third, a tough at bat by Hunter Coleman resulted in a two-RBI single. Tough to give up a hit in a situation like that.
The Longhorns were able to fight back in the seventh and eight innings, scoring a run in each inning to get back to within one of the Aggies. Ryan Reynolds singled in the seventh, while Clemens RBI singled in the eighth. In the eighth, Texas had the bases loaded once again, but Reynolds ended the inning by grounding out to the pitcher. If there was a reoccurring theme to tonight’s game, it was that Texas had their chances, but couldn’t capitalize.
Ultimately, Nolan Hoffman was able to close out the game and earn the save for the Aggies. The series has now gone back and forth the last three years, with each game coming within one run.
Besides the early hole the Longhorns dug themselves in, the pitching and defense mostly got it done. However, much-needed hits in much-needed times were lacking in tonight’s frustrating loss.
Texas will now try to bounce back from this loss in a critical series with our good friends across the Red River. Currently, the Sooners sit at top of the Big 12 standings with a 8-1 conference record, while the ‘Horns stand in third with a 9-3 record in conference play. Be on the lookout for a preview in the coming days.