Following a 3 game series against LSU, Texas Baseball returned to UFCU Disch-Falk Field to host UTSA on Tuesday. Four Longhorn pitchers combined for a 1 hit shutout, propelling Texas to a 2-0 victory.
The win puts Texas’ record at 5-3 for the season, while the loss drops the Roadrunners to 2-5. Freshman Nico O’Donnell received his second start of the season and lasted 5 ⅓ innings, earning his first win as a Longhorn. O’Donnell allowed the lone hit and finished with 4 strikeouts. At the plate, David Hamilton and Ryan Reynolds had 2 hits a piece to pace the Longhorns offense.
Leading off the bottom of the 1st, Hamilton laid down a bunt single and advanced to 2nd on a throwing error by UTSA 2B Bryan Arias. Masen Hibbeler quickly drove in Hamilton on a RBI single to left field, giving Texas an early 1-0 lead.
The Longhorns capitalized on a key UTSA error in the 5th to score their only other run of the game. After Hibbeler worked a 2 out walk, Kody Clemens singled into LF. Hibbeler made it to 3rd easily and Clemens attempted to stretch his single into the double. SS Joshua Lamb’s relay throw sailed past the second basemen, and Hibbeler scored to make the score 2-0.
Following O’Donnells exit with 1 out in the 6th, a trio of Longhorn relievers combined for 3 ⅔ hitless innings. Bryce Verplank tossed ⅔ of an inning with a strikeout, Beau Ridgeway tossed 2 innings, and Friday night starter Nolan Kingham notched his first save of the season by working around a leadoff walk in the 9th.
After the game, Nico O’Donnell said he was happy with his preparation and ability to keep the ball down in the zone.
“I think it was just overall preparation,” O’Donnell said when asked about what fueled his success. “I felt really good going into this game, just warming up and throwing out in right field. Like you said, the weather was a lot better (than last week). It was supposed to be raining today and I was not excited about that. But when it turned out to be this nice, everything just cleared up in my mind and I focused on pitching.”
Head Coach David Pierce echoed that statement and said he was pleased with the improvements O’Donnell made from his first start to tonight.
“The thing with Nico is I think he has the ability to think the way you want a pitcher to think,” Pierce said. “He’s very smart, but the key for him is to be able to get ahead in the count, and sometimes he struggles with that. So we challenged him on getting the ball down and getting strike one. He was able to do that a lot of the game, so I think that’s why he was able to get into the 6th.”
The Longhorns will return to action this weekend when they welcome Northwestern for a 4 game series. The teams will play a single game Friday and Sunday, with a doubleheader scheduled for Saturday. Follow along at HornSports.com and on twitter for updates.
Pierce noted that Austin Todd’s absence from the lineup the past 2 games has been related to a thumb injury.
Pierce also said there is a strong possibility Nolan Kingham and Chase Shugart will swap rotation spots this weekend, giving Kingham an extra day of rest.
The last time Texas tossed a 1 hit shutout? 2015 vs Prairie View A&M. Who started that game for the Longhorns? Josh Sawyer.
Duke Ellis collected his first 2 stolen bases of the season. Ellis, Hamilton and Hibbeler have now combined for 11 steals.