The combined pitching efforts of Cole Henry and Jaden Hill for the No. 11 LSU Tigers and a correct call on the field in the second inning that was overturned by the replay official in the booth were too much for the Texas Longhorns to overcome on Friday at the Shriners Hospitals for Children College Classic at Minute Maid Park.
Henry and Hill were sensational for LSU — Henry struck out 10 Texas batters in six innings while allowing only four hits and two runs before Hill came on to slam the door on the Longhorns with six strikeouts over the final three innings.
Hill was particularly impressive, flashing a fastball that hit 98 miles an hour and then relying on his devastating slider over the final two innings. Freshman shortstop Trey Faltine connected well to lead off the ninth inning, but his drive died in center field and Hill handled the final two batters with ease. In his three innings on the mound, the only baserunner Hill allowed was senior center fielder Duke Ellis, who reached on a walk when Hill’s command faltered temporarily.
After the game, Texas head coach David Pierce was left wondering why Hill, a 38th-round draft pick in 2018, is even pitching in college.
The game’s most important moment came in the second inning as Texas starter Bryce Elder appeared to avoid any significant damage after allowing a single and a triple to score the run. With two outs and Saul Garza still on third, Cade Doughty hit a slow chopper to Faltine at shortstop, who made an excellent play to get Doughty at first by a quarter step.
Here is the second inning play that was overturned by replay. https://t.co/HVvjUpY4fL pic.twitter.com/nuMCDAllIr— Joe Cook (@josephcook89) February 29, 2020
Inexplicably, after LSU head coach Paul Mainieri asked for a review, the replay official in the booth overturned the call on the field, gifting the Tigers a second run in the inning and the eventual winning margin.
Texas tied the game when senior catcher DJ Petrinsky hit his first home run of the season, a prodigious blast to left field. After loading the bases that inning with one out, junior first baseman Zach Zubia hit a sacrifice fly to knot the score at 2-2, but the Longhorns weren’t able to land a big blow against Henry.
In the fourth inning, Texas manufactured a run when Faltine was hit by a pitch, followed by sophomore left fielder Eric Kennedy putting down a bunt that forced an errant throw into right field to advance both players. Petrinsky gave the Horns the lead with a sacrifice fly.
LSU got to Elder again in the sixth inning, however. Giovanni DiGiacomo benefited from what was ruled an error by Zubia at first base on a tough play ranging to his right and Daniel Cabrera took advantage when Elder left a changeup up and out over the plate. Cabrera didn’t miss it, sending the ball into the right-field seats to give the Tigers the lead.
The home run handed Elder the loss despite a solid performance — 6.1 innings that included 10 strikeouts, six hits, four runs, and two walks.
Texas is back in action against Arkansas at 7 p.m. Central on Saturday as the Shriners Hospital for Children College Classic continues.