The No. 19 Texas Longhorns (29-15) took down the visiting Houston Cougars (25-16) with a score of 9-4 Tuesday night at UFCU Disch-Falk Field. In presenting that final score, it probably comes across as a score of a game filled with offensive highlights. Maybe, you think, there’s even a cool Zach Zubia or Kody Clemens homerun video somewhere in the thread.
Well, buckle up. Forget about whatever sweet offensive mix-tape is playing in your head right now, and replace it with a little league blooper reel you faintly remember from America’s Funniest Home Videos, back when that was still a thing. Because in this 9-4 game, the ‘Horns quite literally walked their way to a win, and scored nine runs off just four hits in a game which zero of the runs, from either team, were batted in with a hit.
The scoring started right away in the first inning, courtesy of the visiting Cougars. Tristan Stevens, who started the game for Texas, promptly loaded the bases, yielding a single and two walks while only getting one out. Pierce decided to pull Stevens after he issued his second walk (on four pitches, no less), ending the freshman’s day.
Bryce Elder would come out in relief, and inherited Stevens’ awful situation. With one out and the bases loaded, Houston’s Tyler Bielamowicz hit a sacrifice groundout to score one for the road team. Elder would get the last out of the inning on the next batter, escaping his bases loaded jam surrendering only one run.
Later, in the second inning, Houston added two more runs to their score. Two walks and a fielding error from the usually sure-gloved David Hamilton loaded the bases with no outs. Elder would again induce two grounders, back to back, in order to get outs on the board. But in doing so two Cougars were able to score. A fly out to CF ended the inning for Elder and the Houston bats, with the score now 3-0.
The Longhorns would answer in the third inning. With the bases loaded, Tate Shaw was hit by a pitch to bring in DJ Petrinsky from third. The next batter, Masen Hibbeler, picked up on Shaw’s selfless strategy, and was also hit by a pitch to score Duke Ellis from third. Two batters later, and with the bases still loaded, Zach Zubia drew a walk to score another Longhorn. And not to be outdone, David Hamilton would fly out to centerfield one batter later, scoring Shaw and giving the ‘Horns their first lead of the day, 4-3. Ryan Reynolds, the next man up for Texas, would pop out on the first pitch he saw to end the inning.
Now if the third inning wasn’t exciting enough for you, then hopefully the fourth inning will do the job.
After two singles from Petrinsky and Ellis, Jake McKenzie walked to load the bases with no outs for Texas. Shaw would walk on five pitches, scoring one, and keeping the bases loaded. Houston would call for a pitching change to stop the bleeding, but their pitcher, Fred Villarreal, would soon throw more warm-up pitches than game pitches.
With the bases loaded and Masen Hibbeler at the plate, Villarreal would throw a wild pitch that careened away from his catcher, scoring McKenzie from third and advancing all the Longhorn runners. Hibbeler would draw a walk to re-load the bases, and then, just two pitches later, Villarreal would hit Kody Clemens to allow another run to score.
Houston pulled Villarreal after just 10 pitches, but the scoring wouldn’t stop with a change of arms. The next batter, Zach Zubia, would hit a grounder to short, but a throwing error would score two and push the Texas lead to 9-3. Hamilton, Reynolds, and Petrinsky (who led off the inning) would all fail to reack base, and the fourth inning would end after the ‘Horns recorded five runs on two hits and four walks.
The only other scoring play of the game came in the seventh inning. Now with Nico O’Donnell on the mound, O’Donnell would get two outs, but put runners on the corner before being pulled for Matteo Bocchi. Bocchi would throw a wild pitch that would score the runner from third and give Houston one more to make it 9-4. Bocchi would come back and strike out his batter, ending the inning and the scoring for both teams.
Andy McGuire would be called upon in the ninth inning to close out the game. Though he let two runners on the corners, McGuire got a fly out to left field to end the contest and seal the victory for the Longhorns, 9-4.
It was mentioned above, but just to re-emphasize how crazy this game was - there were 13 runs scored between two pretty good college baseball teams, and none of those runs came courtesy of an RBI hit. Maybe that’s not as crazy as it seems, but to me, the fact that this game was as chaotic and messy as an “OK Go” music video was just a spectacle in and of itself. Seriously - the final stat line for a lot of the pitchers that took the hill tonight for either side made Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn look like Greg Maddux.
However, at the end of the night, no one can argue with the results - a win is a win. Especially over a good team like the Houston Cougars, the Longhorns will take a 9-4 win any day. Texas Baseball’s official twitter account couldn’t have said it any better:
Sometimes winning just hurts so good. pic.twitter.com/UQFavunXRP— Texas Baseball (@TexasBaseball) April 25, 2018
Texas will hit the road for their next series - a weekend matchup with the West Virginia Mountaineers in Morgantown. The first game of the series is Friday, with first pitch scheduled for 5:30 PM Central. This is a big series for the Horns, who will enter their Big 12 tilt with WVU 2nd in the conference, just one game back of Oklahoma State.
For a preview of the West Virginia series, check back here this weekend and stay tuned here at burntorangenation.com, or follow the BON twitter account for updates. Until then, Hook ‘Em.
Bonus Clip: A Big 12 produced, two-minute spot on Chase Shugart, and how baseball has always played a big part in his life.