Even though he wasn’t physically well enough to suit up for Friday night’s game versus Texas Southern, nothing stopped junior starting pitcher Nolan Kingham from putting on a show Saturday night.
Reminiscent of former Chicago Bull and NBA Hall of Famer Michael Jordan’s 1997 “flu game,” where Jordan willed himself to 38 points while suffering from the sickness, Kingham, too, flashed a solid performance.
Usually the team’s first starter, Kingham’s start was pushed back to Saturday where he pitched like a man on a mission. Over the course of 7.2 innings, Kingham allowed only three runs (two earned) on nine hits and consistently placed pitches in the exact spots where he wanted them.
“Certainly the story of the night was Nolan Kingham,” Texas A&M head coach Rob Childress said. “He was outstanding on the mound and did a wonderful job.”
Kingham’s outing, as impressive as it was, was made a bit easier by junior second baseman Kody Clemens. Clemens went 3-5 on the day with two home runs and three RBI, while also adding a walk. His first hit, though, was as vital to the game as Kingham’s dominance.
In the top of the first inning, with two men on, Clemens took a high fastball well over the right field fence, his 20th of the year. Clemens, who has made his biggest plays when his team has needed them most, stole the momentum and handed it to Texas from the very beginning of the game.
“I was pretty locked in,” Clemens said. “I just got a good pitch that I could handle and put a good swing on the ball. But I was super excited coming into this game. Obviously A&M is our rivals and super exciting to play against.”
Head coach David Pierce even chimed in on his team’s most talented hitter and the type of season he’s having. He even was as far as to compare Clemens to a current MLB infielder and Silver Slugger he previously coached at Rice University.
“Anthony Rendon, his freshman year hit 26 home runs and that was one of those magical years,” Pierce said. “And he did it with the old bat. So what Kody’s doing right now is pretty remarkable.”
Rounding third base on that first blast, though, Clemens demonstrated the passion he came into the game with, as he stared down the Aggie dugout before touching home plate.
“(Staring down the dugout) was just like in the moment,” Clemens said. “You know I’m super competitive. Playing A&M you get pretty emotional. So it was just in the moment.”
However, Clemens then acknowledged that there is not a team he hates more than the Texas A&M Aggies.
Another player that has been red-hot in this Longhorn lineup is junior catcher DJ Petrinsky. Petrinsky, who went 2-3 with a home run and 4 RBI on Friday tried to one-up himself on Saturday. In total from Saturday’s game, Petrinsky went 2-4 with a solo home run and has proven himself to be one of the team’s utmost lethal power hitters.
He has also bolstered a bottom of a lineup that has outperformed themselves as of late. Over the course of the last two days, Texas’ final three batters (Petrinsky, junior outfielder Tate Shaw and senior first baseman Jake McKenzie) have gone a combined 10-20 at the plate over the last two days and netted six of the team’s 18 RBI.
In front of a crowd that totaled just north of 7,000, Texas performed at its finest. The series is far from over, though, as the Longhorns will take on the winner from the Indiana-Texas A&M game tomorrow night at UFCU Disch-Falk Field. First pitch is scheduled for 8 p.m.