For the first time in 7 years, Texas played an NCAA Tournament game at the friendly confines of UFCU Disch-Falk Field. In front of a crowd of close to 7,000 the Longhorns began the NCAA Tournament with a 10-0 win over #4 seed Texas Southern. The anticipated matchup with Texas A&M is now a reality, and Longhorns will look to carry their solid performance into Saturday night. Here are some thoughts and takeaways from an impressive regional opening win:
- Chase Shugart was outstanding on the mound for Texas. It has been a while since he’s shown the command he showed Friday night, especially with his fastball. The right-hander lasted 6 innings, allowing only 4 hits and striking out 5. The important number for Shugart tonight was 69 pitches, which means he will most likely be available as a reliever on Sunday or a starter on Monday.
- Matteo Bocchi entered for Shugart in the 7th and notched his first save of the year, throwing the final 3 innings. The Italian native allowed 1 hit and struck out 6. Shugart and Bocchi combined to allow 0 walks, which is impressive for two guys who have had control problems at times this season. Bocchi will likely be available to pitch again on Sunday, and his ability to go multiple innings could be huge as the regional plays out.
- As for the offense, Texas had a balanced attack, with all but 1 starter recording a hit. DJ Petrinsky was the star of the night, going 2 for 4 with 4 RBI’s, including a monster 3-run home run in the 3rd inning. Duke Ellis and Jake McKenzie also collected 2 hits a piece.
- David Hamilton had the first steal of home for a Texas player since Mark Payton in 2011. With runners at the corners and a left-hander Mason Furlong on the mound, Hamilton took off for home, with Kody Clemens taking off from first shortly after. Furlong stepped off and looked at Clemens, and Hamilton continued his sprint home for the 9th Longhorn run.
- After going 0-2 in the Big 12 Tournament, Texas came out laser focused and never really gave Texas Southern a chance to generate any momentum. If there were any questions about a letdown, they were put to rest in the first few innings. The Longhorns are now in the winner’s bracket and will face off against Texas A&M on Saturday.
- Saturday night will mark the first time Texas has faced Texas A&M in the postseason since 2014, when Chad Hollingsworth memorable complete game helped eliminate the Aggies and give Texas the regional championship. Chase Shugart said after the game he expects there to be an electric atmosphere.
- Despite being under the weather for most of the week, Nolan Kingham will get the ball for Texas. Texas A&M did not announce a starter after their 10-3 win over Texas Southern, but all signs point to Mitchell Kilkenny getting the ball for the Aggies. Kilkenny enters the game with a 8-4 record and a 3.00 ERA.
Texas Head Coach David Pierce
Opening statement: It was just great efficiency from our pitching staff tonight. Chase (Shugart) and (Matteo) Bocchi did a great job of really attacking the opponent and tremendous, tremendous defense. I thought we did a great job with getting our offense started with the hit and run. And then, David (Hamilton) executed the bunt there and gave us a little cushion and we built off of that. DJ with the big blow and we just continued to tackle them.
On Chase having a shut out: Yeah, he did. I mean he was at 67-69 pitches and so it was the right time, so we could possibly use him later in the week. But, like we talked about, he has a rubber arm and the ability to come back.
On how they played: It did [go perfectly.] It’s probably the way we went out and played. We were ready to play, it was obvious that we were ready to play. The guys expected the ball, wanted the ball hit to them and just made some tremendous plays. But, for us to be able to execute the way we did and be that efficient was about as good as you could expect.
On how electric it will be playing the Aggies: Probably as good as I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been around for a long time. You put those two teams in a regional and an opportunity to go 2 and 0, I think its going to be very exciting, I think what we’ll do is just go out and try to go business as usual and maintain our routines and go out there and try to be as efficient as we were tonight.
Pitcher Chase Shugart
On the being available to pitch: You know I just go back to last year and the regional in long beach and you know he had me out there 2 or 3 times and I took it as the same mentality as I’m here to compete and do my best and it’s just 1-on-1 confrontations with me and the hitter. I’m going to take that mindset if I’m being used in the backend of the bullpen on Sunday or I’m starting on Monday. I’m ready to go.
On his dominance this game: I felt like tonight I was myself, all 6 innings. I was composed, I was pitching with emotion, with that edge I usually have and I was in my rhythm. I was letting my defense work and I was also making pitches and counts I needed to make pitches in so overall it was a good night for me and a good night for our defense.
Catcher D.J. Petrinsky
On jumping on the first pitch: He threw me a couple in my first AB, and I took them, and I went up there the 2nd time just hoping he’d throw me another one and he did.