When the pitching is cooking for the Texas Longhorns, it’s hard to stop the Horns.
Nolan Kingham delivered a complete game en route to Texas baseball (35-18, 15-7 Big 12) taking down the TCU Horned Frogs (30-20, 10-11 Big 12) 3-2 in Thursday night’s series home opener at UFCU Disch-Falk Field.
The win was crucial not only because it brings Texas one step closer to hosting an NCAA regional, but because Texas is now only one game back from first in the Big 12. Conference leader Oklahoma State fell to Texas Tech 9-4 on Thursday night in Lubbock, making the Texas Big 12 title aspirations much more feasible with two games remaining in the season.
The Longhorns have fallen into the habit of falling behind in recent games, but on Thursday it was Texas scoring first. In the bottom of the second, DJ Petrinsky led the inning off with a single, which allowed him to take second on an error. A Duke Ellis groundout moved Petrinsky to third, while a Jake McKenzie groundout knocked the catcher home to make it 1-0.
Texas added to its lead in the following inning. Austin Todd was hit by a pitch and then Kody Clemens walked to give Texas two on with no outs in the third. Zach Zubia flied out to advance Todd, and then Masen Hibbeler popped out to score the speedy Todd on the sacrifice.
The first two runs weren’t exactly pretty, but it worked.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Horns made it 3-0 on a solo homer by Hibbeler. The long bomb was his fourth of the year.
That would prove to be enough of a cushion for Kingham, as the junior righty was in vintage form. Though Kingham did allow some baserunners, he turned in several highly efficient innings that allowed him to go the complete game, including a six-pitch fifth inning.
Kingham allowed a solo shot in the bottom of the sixth to make it 3-1, and then things got scary in the following inning when a two-out single brought the score to 3-2. That would be the last threat from the Horned Frogs, however, as Kingham notched the next seven outs in a row without a baserunner to end the game and give Texas the 3-2 win in the opener.
Kingham’s line for the night: 9.0 innings pitched, 2 runs, 6 hits, 1 walk, and 6 strikeouts.
Now the Horns will have a fresh bullpen for game two, which will take place on Friday at 6:30 pm Central at the Disch. You can catch the action on the Longhorn Network or by tuning into 104.9 The Horn.