Almost exactly a year after they decided to return to Texas for their senior seasons, Mark Payton and Nathan Thornhill propelled Texas to a 4-2 win over Houston in the first game of the Super Regionals Friday.
Payton got the Longhorns off to a great start with a two-run homerun to right field in the first inning and finished the game with three hits. Thornhill pitched seven solid innings for Texas, giving up just two runs on seven hits while striking out three.
“The two seniors that came back led the way didn’t they?” Texas head coach Augie Garrido asked rhetorically after the game. “Nate [Thornhill] pitched really, really well and Mark [Payton] obviously had the big homerun.”
For Payton, it was quite the afternoon. Not only did he hit his second homerun of the season, extending his on-base streak to 100 games, he was also selected by the New York Yankees in the seventh round of the MLB Draft.
“I’m not worried about [the MLB] right now,” Payton said. “I’m just going to be ready for tomorrow and come ready to play. My focus right now is to be a Longhorn and to win tomorrow.”
The heralded seniors led the way for Texas, but the elders got plenty of help from the rest of the lineup. All nine Longhorn hitters reached base in the game and Thornhill got plenty of help from the guys behind him, including three double plays in the infield.
Sophomore pitcher John Curtiss, who was just named an Academic All-American earlier in the week, closed out the game for Texas, giving up just one hit over the final two innings.
Parker French will get the start for Texas in the second game of the series tomorrow. Game time is set for 1 PM CT at UFCU Disch-Falk Field.