For the second consecutive season, Texas is a win away from a super regional. The Longhorns defeated Texas A&M, 8-3, in front of a sellout crowd at UFCU Disch-Falk Field. Texas will now have the luxury of watching A&M and Indiana play in an elimination game tomorrow afternoon, with the winner facing the Longhorns tomorrow at 8 PM. The storylines are plentiful, so here are some thoughts and takeaways from an eventful day at the Disch.
- It was no secret Nolan Kingham has been under the weather all week, but just how bad was it? Jake McKenzie said after the game that Kingham threw up earlier Saturday morning after trying to eat something. Despite not being anywhere close to 100%, the right-hander gutted through 7 ⅔ innings, allowing 3 runs (2 earned) on 9 hits while striking out 8.
- Kingham had his sinker working effectively for most of the night, inducing 8 ground ball out. The highest he touched on the stadium radar gun was 94, but the junior sat about 90-91 with his fastball for most of the night. On a night when Texas needed their ace to deliver a strong performance, Kingham never lost control of the zone and remained calm the entire game, an encouraging sign after some struggles earlier in the season.
- Is anyone surprised Kody Clemens took his game up a notch when the stakes were raised? The electric atmosphere at the Disch was aided greatly by Clemens first inning 3-run homer on a pitch that hung right over the middle of the plate. His second home run came in the 6th, a solo shot out to RF. The junior now has 21 home runs on the season and should be a very serious contender for National Player of the Year.
- DJ Petrinsky connected on his 2nd home run of the regional in the 4th when he crushed a hanging breaking ball over the LF wall. Petrinsky seems very comfortable at the plate right now and has been solid behind the plate as well.
- The bottom of the order as a whole had a very productive evening. Petrinsky, Tate Shaw and Jake McKenzie combined to go 5 for 11 with 2 RBI’s and 3 runs scored. McKenzie is now 4 for 8 through 2 games in the regional. After the game, McKenzie joked with the media that the considers himself the 3-hole hitter in the bottom half of the order, with Petrinsky serving as the leadoff man and Shaw batting 2-hole.
- In my opinion, the most important takeaway from the evening is the bullpen depth the Longhorns have heading into tomorrow. Josh Sawyer retired the only batter he faced tonight and Andy McGuire threw a stress free 9th inning. Both pitchers should be available tomorrow along with Matteo Bocchi, who threw the final 3 innings in Friday’s win over Texas Southern. Texas has also yet to use Parker Joe Robinson and Kamron Fields, both of whom can go multiple innings. Pierce says he also expects Chase Shugart to be available out of the bullpen after starting Friday and throwing 69 pitches.
- Blair Henley will take the ball for the Longhorns tomorrow. The sophomore is 5-6 with a 3.54 ERA. Henley struggled with walks in his last appearance, walking 6 in 3 ⅔ innings against TCU. The leash on Henley may not be long, but the right-hander has been very good at times this season. If he is able to command his fastball and utilize his plus change-up, Texas should get a quality start.
- Bonus Thought: I am interested to see how the pitching situation will play out for Texas A&M and Indiana tomorrow. A&M has not only thrown their best two starters, but also utilized 4 relievers against Texas, including Chandler Jozwiak, who has started 9 games this season. I would think Asa Lacy, who threw 6 scoreless innings in a start in the SEC Tournament, would get the start in the elimination game against Indiana. Indiana received a complete game from Pauly Milto today against Texas Southern, and will either start Tim Herrin or Cam Beauchamp against the Aggies, with the other likely receiving the start if they were to win and play Texas later in the day. One thing seems pretty clear: Texas has the pitching advantage over the other two remaining teams.
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