Friday night the Texas Longhorns (26-14) defeated the New Orleans Privateers (17-22) 8-6 in a back and forth affair. A resilient Texas club was able to fight back time and time again, and was able to deliver clutch performances at the right time.
Nolan Kingham got the start on the mound for the ‘Horns tonight, after being scratched from last Friday’s start against Oklahoma for not adhering to the team’s academic attendance policy. Despite that setback, Kingham came into this game carrying a sliver of momentum from a solid outing out of the bullpen later in that Oklahoma series. However, the Texas ace hasn’t pitched more than four innings since his start against Oklahoma State back in late March.
New Orleans jumped out to a quick start – with Kingham giving up a triple off the wall, followed by a RBI single, and then ultimately giving up a two-run homerun to Orynn Veillon to put the Privateers ahead 3-0 early. Recently, starting pitching has put Texas in trouble early in games, forcing the Longhorns to recover later in the game.
Despite falling behind early, Texas had their fair share of opportunities. The Longhorns had two on in each of the first three innings, but couldn’t capitalize on bringing in runners.
The game started to speed up significantly due to the fact that Kingham and New Orleans pitcher Bryan Warzek exchanged efficient innings. New Orleans had extended their lead 4-0 in the top half of the fifth off an RBI single from Collin Morrill.
Things were looking grim at one point in the fifth inning when at point Warzek had struck out five straight Longhorns. Then Kody Clemens happened. A two-run homerun (No. 13 of the year) by Clemens got the ‘Horns on the board for the first time in the ballgame.
Lucky No. 13 for @kodyclem. He's kinda nasty. #HookEm pic.twitter.com/S6U7LsPELG— Texas Baseball (@TexasBaseball) April 21, 2018
Seemingly by one swing of the bat, Texas had life, and weren’t done there. Later in the inning, with the bases loaded, a base hit by DJ Petrinsky and an RBI groundout by Duke Ellis tied the game at four a piece. With the starting pitching off to slow starts, it has become a reoccurring theme that the Longhorns offense has kept them in games this year.
After six complete, the Longhorns had taken the lead thanks to a throwing error that scored Kody Clemens all the way from first. However, it didn’t take long for the Privateers to once again retake the lead in the top of the seventh. With two outs, a two-RBI single by Owen Magee gave New Orleans a 6-5 lead heading to the stretch.
Texas was able to load the bases again in the seventh thanks to three straight hit by pitches. With the crowd getting into it, Masen Hibbeler was able to draw an RBI walk to even out the score at 6-6. Unfortunately, that was all the ‘Horns were able to manage as Kody Clemens’ solidly hit ball was tracked down in right field.
Nolan Kingham’s night was done after seven when Parker Joe Robinson came in for relief in the eighth. Despite allowing six runs and nine hits, Kingham seemed to find his rhythm that he has missed for some time. Kingham’s stat line is listed below:
Nolan Kingham – 7.0IP, 6R, 6ER, 9H, 1BB, 7SO, 94 pitches
Probably the biggest play of the game happened in the top of the eighth after Parker Joe Robinson had loaded the bases. With no outs, Josh Sawyer came in for relief. The southpaw was able to get a strikeout, and then turn the 1-2-3 double play to end the inning with no runs allowed.
After such a clutch inning from Josh Sawyer, the Longhorns followed that by taking back the lead in the eighth. In thrilling fashion, a Zach Zubia solo homerun gave the ‘Horns the outright lead 7-6. An RBI ground out from Duke Ellis gave the Longhorns extra cushion going into the ninth with an 8-6 lead.
When you know, you know. @zachzubia's 9th of the year was a big one. #HookEm pic.twitter.com/LQwJB22Dyl— Texas Baseball (@TexasBaseball) April 21, 2018
In the ninth, Andy McGuire retired the side and secured a comeback win for a Longhorns club that is looking better and better. It’s only one game into the series, but it seems that David Pierce’s team are putting the pieces together.
More importantly, the ‘Horns are just finding ways to win ballgames. Their flexibility is going to be key moving forward in the schedule, but I can sense this team is getting hot at the right time.
Texas will be back in action tomorrow at the Disch at 2:30 P.M. Probable starter for tomorrow’s game for the Longhorns is Chase Shugart. You can catch the game on the Longhorn Network or listen on 104.9 The Horn.