Entering the 2018, many viewed the starting pitching as a strength for Texas. Nolan Kingham did nothing but support that notion during the season opener Friday, tossing 8 shutout innings with 10 strikeouts as Texas downed Louisiana Lafayette, 3-0.
Following a rocky first 2 innings which saw the Ragin’ Cajuns get a runner in scoring position twice, the junior settled in and cruised through the next 6 innings, only allowing 1 hit. Beau Ridgeway pitched a clean 9th inning and picked up his first save of the season.
“It was the best,” Pierce said about Kingham’s performance. “You can go out and pitch eight innings and only pitch 89 pitches, that’s how you do it. That’s how you draw it up. I loved his tempo after the first.”
Offensively, David Hamilton and Masen Hibbeler led the way. Hamilton finished the game 1 for 3 with a walk, while Hibbeler collected 3 hits in his Texas debut. The duo combined for all 3 runs for the Longhorns.
The scoring got started in the 3rd inning when Hamilton lead off with a walk and then stole second base. Hibbeler followed with a bunt single to put runners at the corners and 0 outs. 2 batters, Hamilton scored on Austin Todd’s groundout for the games first run.
In the 5th, Hibbeler lead off with a single and proceeded to steal the first of his two stolen bases on the night. A balk moved him to third before Kody Clemens laced an RBI single into right field.
Hibbeler got the Longhorns offense going again in the 7th with a 1 out single and stolen base. After a groundout by Kody Clemens advanced Hibbeler to third, Austin Todd blooped a double into left field to extend the lead to 3-0.
Following the win, Pierce said he was happy with the production from the top of his lineup.
“Hibbeler had a great night. David had a good night. Austin Todd kind of quietly had a good night with a couple of RBIs. Yeah, that’s what we like. I really like the speed one through five in there, too.”
Game 2 of the series will be played Saturday at 2:30. Texas will send RHP Chase Shugart to the mound for his first career start. Follow along here at HornSports for live updates.