Following their first loss of the season, the No. 1-ranked Texas Longhorns rebounded with a 9-8 victory over the Texas State Bobcats on Tuesday night in San Marcos. While the win required more drama than any Longhorn loyalist might prefer, Texas proved its poise and resiliency to be that of a national championship squad.
Texas entered the Tuesday night contest anticipating a challenge from an up-and-coming Texas State program overflowing with fervor and talent. For game one of the two-game midweek series, the Bobcasts took their home field with a palpable swagger after securing the program’s first-ever series win over a top-25 team over the Arizona Wildcats in Tuscon last weekend.
Texas right-hander Andre Duplantier II made his third start of the season following a shake-up to UT’s rotation that came when head coach David Pierce opted to scratch Tanner Witt before Sunday’s loss to UCLA. Despite a turbulent performance against LSU, Duplantier sailed through the first two innings without breaking a sweat. Longhorn bats made quick work of Bobcat ace Trevis Sundgren as Murphy Stehly ignited the offense with a one-out double in the first. After heads-up base running placed Stehly third, Trey Faltine delivered a two-run home run, putting the Horns on the board, 2-0.
Douglas Hodo III led off the third inning with an electric double to left center. An Ivan Melendez sacrifice fly scored Hodo and put the Horns up 3-0 in the third. The bottom of the third inning is one we’ll spend the next several weeks trying to forget as Texas State broke the game wide open while scoring six runs on four hits and adding to the early-season woes of Duplantier.
Fortunately, the Longhorns answered back with a six-spot of their own on seven hits, forcing the Bobcats to retreat to their bullpen early. Austin Todd, Stehly, Mitchell Daly, and Eric Kennedy tapped the bases before Ivan Melendez launched a three-run homer to reclaim the lead. As fans and staff alike searched to find the final resting place of Melendez’s moonshot, Texas State turned to right-hander Triston Dixon to correct course for the Bobcats. Dixon diligently retired the Longhorns, throwing eight pitches in total. Texas bats remained quiet for the duration of the contest.
With Texas up 9-6, Duplantier muzzled the explosive Bobcat offense in the fourth inning before being relieved by right-hander Coy Cobb in the fifth. Duplantier finished the night after tossing 78 pitches in 4.1 innings and his final line included seven earned runs on seven hits, one walk, three strikeouts, and a 6.64 ERA. Cobb earned the win after giving up no runs and one hit to four Bobcat bats to close out the fifth.
Pierce called right-hander Travis Sthele to the bump in another opportunity to prove himself as the Texas set-up man. The redshirt freshman tossed 32 pitches in two complete innings, allowing two hits and one earned run to bring the Bobcats within one run of the Longhorns, 9-8.
After Sthele, freshman left-hander Luke Harrison found success tonight as the bridge between Sthele and Nixon. Harrison faced three Bobcats in the eighth inning, inking a putout, groundout, and one walk into his stat line.
Knowing Texas State would not go quietly into the night, Texas turned to their sophomore closer Aaron Nixon to collect the final four outs of the ballgame. Nixon made quick work of Dalton Shuffield to retire the Bobcats into the ninth inning. Tristan Stivors froze the Texas bats and any hope of insurance for the burnt orange in the top of the ninth, forcing Nixon to defend his season-long 0.00 ERA with a mere one-run lead.
Nixon offered retired the first batter he faced on an 0-1 put-out to Kennedy in center field. Following the glimmer of efficiency and lack of heartache, Nixon lost command of his fastball and walked the next two Bobcats. A fielder’s choice advanced the tying run to scoring position, seemingly stopping the hearts of Longhorns fans nationwide in one fell swoop. Nixon fell behind to Texas State pinch hitter, Ben McClain, before enticing McClain to chase on a 2-1 count. With the swing and miss, Nixon captured yet another save while keeping his perfect ERA intact.
The Longhorns return home to UFCU Disch-Falk Field Wednesday to host the Bobcats for the second game of this two-game series before traveling to Charleston, South Carolina for a three-game stand with the Gamecocks. Wednesday’s first pitch from the Disch is scheduled for 6:30 P.M. Central and will be televised on Longhorn Network.