The No. 22 Texas Longhorns (9-3) defeated the No. 2 LSU Tigers (8-2) by the score of 8-4 during Saturday’s clash of blue-blood programs at UFCU Disch-Falk Field. The victory gave the Longhorns a huge series win before head coach David Pierce’s team looks to complete the sweep on Sunday.
Despite surrendering three runs in the first inning against Purdue a week ago, junior pitcher Blair Henley got off to a much better start this week — a 10-pitch frame to begin the game was exactly what Henley was hoping for, as he is trying to erase a history of slow starts.
Texas broke the game wide open in the bottom of the second thanks to timely hitting and pitching woes from the Tigers pitching staff. LSU starter Landon Marceaux began the inning by hitting senior first baseman Tate Shaw on a 0-2 count and followed that up by walking senior catcher Michael McCann on a full count. The first hit of the ballgame came off the bat from senior second baseman Masen Hibbeler, as he singled to right field to load the bases with no outs.
The Longhorns struck first on Marceaux’s 52nd pitch — a walk drawn by junior center fielder Duke Ellis (big surprise) to bring home Shaw. Freshman president Eric Kennedy, the team’s left fielder, broke the game open with an RBI single to bring both Hibbeler and McCann home, giving the Horns a three-run lead. Still with one away, junior right fielder Austin Todd singled to drive home another run by beating the throw from the shortstop to ignite the sellout crowd.
Marceaux continued to contribute to his own self-inflicted wounds as a wild pitch brought Kennedy all the way from second to score. Just like that, Marceaux’s day was done after only 1.1 innings pitched. Texas capped off the inning as Zach Zubia doubled down the left field line, bringing in Todd to extend the Longhorns lead to 6-0.
One of the only drawbacks to the six spot in the bottom of the second was the fact that Henley went cold during his time in the dugout. Four straight hits by the Tigers and an RBI single by Cade Beloso cut the lead in half. Fortunately, no more damage was done, as Henley was able to strike out Giovanni DiGiacomo to end the threat. Nevertheless, rarely is any one pitcher going to handle this LSU lineup as well as emerging sophomore ace Bryce Elder did on Friday.
Any dismay Henley may have felt once coming off the mound in the top of the third was surely erased when his offense re-extended the lead to 8-3. Kennedy reached on an error by the first baseman as Hibbeler scored from third. Immediately after that, Todd singled through the right side of the infield, scoring Ellis and giving the Horns a five-run lead.
In the top of the seventh, Henley’s day ended after surrendering a leadoff double to Chris Reid and followed that up with a walk. Redshirt freshman Cole Quintanilla came on in relief for his fifth appearance on the season. Henley’s numbers are listed below:
Blair Henley – 6.0IP, 3ER, 5H, 3BB, 6SO, 94 pitches
A throwing error by Hibbeler on the way to completing a double play caused a LSU baserunner to score, bringing the score 8-4. Fortunately, that was all the Tigers were able to muster, as Quintanilla was able to strike out the next two batters to maintain a comfortable lead heading into the stretch.
The Tigers weren’t able to score another run in the ballgame, as Quintanilla, who has been on an absolute tear to start the season, was able to strike out the side in the ninth to give the Longhorns the victory. The win went to Henley, with Quintanilla was awarded the save.
The Horns didn’t have to really swing the bat today as the LSU pitching staff did the majority of work with 11 walks. At one point, Texas had managed to get their leadoff batter on base in four out of the first five innings. Pierce kept the aggressiveness on the base paths going again on Saturday as multiple hit and runs were executed perfectly.
Both pitchers for Texas got the job done today, as the combination of Henley and Quintanilla was responsible for striking out 13 LSU batters. Henley’s confidence and consistency should continue to rise given the fact that he limited one of the best offenses in the game to four runs. Quintanilla, who has been so impressive, now has an ERA of 0.77, allowed only five hits, 17 strikeouts, and no walks in 11.2 innings pitched.
Texas will be back in action on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. Central, where they look to sweep the second-ranked team in the nation. Freshman Coy Cobb is the scheduled pitcher to take the mound for the Horns as he’s looking to continue his momentum from his last start against the Boilermakers last Saturday.
The game will be televised on the Longhorn Network or you can listen in on 104.9 The Horn.