It may have taken nearly five hours, but the No. 17 Texas Longhorns (34-18) were able to secure a victory and season sweep over the visiting Texas State Bobcats (25-26-1) Tuesday night at UFCU Disch-Falk Field. David Hamilton and a solid group pitching performance helped the Longhorns overcome a two hour lightning delay to win 6-2.
Though the weather eventually turned gruesome, the skies over first pitch provided perfect baseball weather for the final installment of the I-35 series this season. Freshman Matteo Bocchi was tabbed by coach David Pierce as the starter for the game, and Bocchi welcomed the Bobcats to the plate to get things underway.
Bocchi encountered his only trouble he would see in the game in the first inning. Texas State jumped on the board first with three singles that eventually scored one Bobcat before Texas could escape the inning down 1-0.
However, in the bottom of the first frame, David Hamilton continued his recent power surge and assault on his hometown school (3 of his 5 home runs this year have come against Texas State) with a lead-off home run to evaporate Texas State’s one run lead.
Duke Ellis would follow up Hamilton with a single up the left side. After a Kody Clemens (who also celebrated his “Taylor Swift year” birthday yesterday) walk, Zach Zubia would ground into a double play, advancing Ellis to third but providing the Bobcats with two outs in the process. A wild pitch would give Ellis the green light home and the Longhorns their first lead of the game. After DJ Petrinsky flew out to end the inning, the ‘Horns led 2-1 after the first.
Matteo Bocchi would respond to his peppering in his first inning of work by recording a 1-2-3 inning in the second. The Longhorn bats, not to be outdone by Bocchi, would see the two runs it plated in the first inning, and would raise to three runs in the second.
Ryan Reynolds led off the bottom of the second with a single through the right side. After a Masen Hibbeler single and Tate Shaw walk loaded the bases with no outs, Jake McKenzie would turn on the first pitch he saw and single through the left, scoring one for Texas and keeping the bases at full capacity. The upcoming threat of the top of the order was deemed to be too much by Texas State’s head coach, and the starting pitcher for the Bobcats was pulled after just one inning of work and only going once through the order.
After a brief warm-up delay for the new Bobcat reliever, David Hamilton took his place at the plate. A roped single up the middle would advance all the runners 90 feet, scoring one without emptying a base. Duke Ellis would ground into a double play, and though the ‘Horns would lose two outs they would add another run to push the lead to 5-1, Texas. A Kody Clemens strikeout would end the second inning.
Matteo Bocchi kept cruising in the game until the angry baseball weather gods decided they had seen enough. After allowing three hits in the first inning, Bocchi was able to retire the next ten Bobcats he faced in order. Bocchi was very much settled into a groove on the mound, and it would have been captivating to see how far he would have been able to go on a clearer day. Unfortunately, we have to settle (I use that word lightly) for this line instead:
Matteo Bocchi: 4.0 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 5 K, 0 BB, 17 Batters Faced
After the 2+ hour delay subsided, Bryce Elder took Bocchi’s place on the mound and picked up where the Italian Stallion left off. Elder would toss three innings, allowing just four hits and one run while striking out two and walking none to eventually earn the win.
The only other bits of scoring action came in the seventh inning, where both teams would plate a run. Texas State would get one from a solo homer off of Elder, while the Longhorns would take a more scenic route in scoring their run.
After Jake McKenzie led things off with a walk, David Hamilton bunted his way onto first. Kody Clemens would single with one out to load the bases, prompting a Texas State pitching change with the bases now loaded. Zach Zubia was next up to the plate, and a sacrifice RBI ground out scored McKenzie from third to push the lead back to four.
To close out the game, Chase Shugart and Andy McGuire combined for two innings of relief allowing no hits, one walk, and striking out three, absolutely shutting the door on any kind of comeback bid Texas State could muster. Nearly five hours after the first pitch was thrown, McGuire got the final batter of the game to ground-out to none other than the San Marcos murderer, David Hamilton, to end the game.
Amidst the lengthy weather delay was an incredibly well-rounded game from a Texas squad looking to end the season well in hopes of hosting a regional. Hamilton led the way for all hitters, but the ‘Horns did a great job of not only putting runners on base, but finishing the job by bringing those same runners home when they were in scoring position.
The real driving force for the Longhorns last night, though, came from the mound on the defensive side of the ball. What started with Matteo Bocchi throwing his best start to date was carried through by Elder, Shugart, and McGuire in a ruthlessly overpowering performance over the Bobcats. As a staff, Longhorns pitchers scattered nine hits and only walked one. Considering three of those hits came in the first inning, allowing only seven base runners over the next eight innings is a performance to be commended.
But most importantly, Texas out-hit Texas State 10 to 9 in this game. And if you didn’t out-hit the other team, then did you really win?
Texas will look to rest up for a few days before closing out the regular season at home against TCU this weekend. After the weekend series, it’s off to the Big 12 Tournament. Hopefully the Longhorns won’t be playing their last games in Austin this season this weekend. But if Texas can play like they did tonight, that shouldn’t be a problem.