UFCU Disch-Falk Field

Photo Credit: Angela Wang | Daily Texan Staff

On a beautiful April night, the conditions were ripe for a competitive night of baseball between two talented Texas teams. But when Texas hosted Houston on Tuesday night, the game turned sloppy in a hurry. 

Texas beat Houston, 9-4, at UFCU Disch-Falk Field. The score, however, did not tell the full story of the game. The two teams combined for a total of 10 pitchers, 10 walks, five hit batsmen and just 11 hits over the course of the night.

Texas head coach David Pierce acknowledged his team’s underwhelming performance, but had a gratifying attitude about the victory.

“Never had a bad win,” Pierce said. “It was ugly, but we’ll take it. We’ll move on and learn from it. We were just fortunate to win the game.”

The game, which began worse than it ended, started off on a sour note. Redshirt freshman starting pitcher Tristan Stevens, in his second start of the season, was pulled after recording only one out. After struggling with control and loading the bases, he was pulled in favor of freshman reliever Bryce Elder.

“The thing that concerned me (about Stevens) was not that he struggled early, but (that) I didn’t see the pitches we’ve been seeing,” Pierce said. “His breaking ball was really big, and he throws a tight slider. His change-up is always down, and his fastball has more life. So I just felt like, at that point, it’s a start that says ‘disaster.’ And so we had to make a move
right away.”

Elder limited the scoring, only allowing one run on the inning. He threw two more innings and allowed another earned run. His role in controlling the damage was vital for Texas, which maintained a close lead in the early part of the ballgame.

“I thought Bryce did a good job of settling it down,” Pierce said. “He kind of controlled it and avoided the big inning. And that’s what we needed right there.”

Elder was then pulled in favor of true freshman Nico O’Donnell, who at one time, was the unquestioned Tuesday starting pitcher. O’Donnell has been through his fair share of struggles, but seemed to get back into his rhythm Tuesday night as he recorded more innings (3.2, 1 ER) than any other member of the staff. Pierce acknowledged his young pitcher’s recent struggles and said that he’s trying to get them to believe in themselves more.

“Right now, we’re just going through some young guys going through some confidence issues, and continuing to get better,” Pierce said. “We’re trying to get them to pick up their rhythm, trying to pick up their arm speed. We’re trying to get them to trust, trust, trust their stuff in the strike zone.”

One of the more unusual occurrences from the game was not that Texas only recorded four hits as a team, but that all of the hits came from only two players. The Longhorns’ No. 7 and No. 8 batters, sophomore outfielder Duke Ellis and junior catcher DJ Petrinsky, each recorded a pair of hits Tuesday night and were the only players to make it to base on something other than a fielder’s choice, walk or being hit by a pitch.

“I think we had great discipline,” Petrinsky said. “Not a lot of strikes. We didn’t pitch at some of the pitches they wanted us to swing at. It was pretty good.”

Texas (29–15, 11–4 Big 12) will return to Big 12 play this weekend when it faces West Virginia in Morgantown at Monongalia County Ballpark. First pitch for Friday’s game is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.

Photo Credit: Katie Bauer | Daily Texan Staff

Watching at home, if you had looked at the box score two innings into the ballgame, chances are you’d have decided to watch highlights of the Masters or “Hawaii Five-0” rather than continuing to watch the struggling Longhorns get their doors beaten in by the Baylor Bears.

Texas showed its resilience, however, as it strung together key clutch hits and defensive plays to not only erase the lead but take over the ball game in the bottom of the fifth. The Longhorns kept the momentum going throughout the rest of the game and finished with a 9-5 victory on Friday night at UFCU Disch-Falk Field.

Texas’ starting pitcher, junior Nolan Kingham, only managed to get through two innings as he struggled right out of the gate. A single and a home run jump started the early run for the Bears, who produced two runs in each of the first two innings.

“(Kingham) was really frustrated,” Texas head coach David Pierce said. “After the second, he came in and said, ‘They’re not getting any more.’ And he couldn’t hit his spot and they were all over him. So we had to make a move. He’s a veteran, he’s going to have to bounce back. And we’re going to need him.”

Kingham was replaced with zero outs in the third after back-to-back Baylor batters got on base to begin the inning. Freshman reliever Matt Whelan, who was tasked with replacing Kingham, walked his first batter to load the bases. But after getting a force out at home to get the first out of the inning, something special happened.

Sophomore shortstop David Hamilton made yet another eye-popping play. This time it was a snow cone grab that he turned into a 6-4-3 double play, which could’ve easily been a single up the middle instead. This not only got the Longhorns, who trailed 4-0, out of a tough spot, but it changed the tide of the game in Texas’ favor.

“We were kind of down, then we turned that double play and things shifted,” Hamilton said. “We got the momentum and it was a good game — a good battle.”

Not only did the pitching momentum shift, the hitting came alive for the Longhorns as well. Over the next two innings, Texas scored six runs. Later in the eighth inning, it added three more. A surprise hero of the game and often unsung quality player, sophomore outfielder Duke Ellis, recorded a team and season-high four hits on the night.

Ellis, who has played right and center field and hit anywhere from the top of the lineup to the bottom, finally got to be the star of the show tonight.

“A big team win,” Ellis said. “When your starter does really well, but he didn’t tonight. He didn’t have his stuff, but it’s all good. You just got to rally behind him. And we did. And it was a big time win.”

It also seems Ellis has come up with a ‘new tradition.’ After the game he was seen in the outfield doing backflips and celebrating with his teammates. Ellis acknowledged that Pierce probably hasn’t seen the acrobatics yet, but he hopes it stays that way.

Ellis did say he’ll continue to do them after each conference win.

Texas will face Baylor in game two on Saturday at Disch-Falk Field. First pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m.

After losing 6-1 to Oklahoma State on Friday night, Texas head coach David Pierce didn’t hide his dissatisfaction, calling his team mentally “sloppy.”

The Longhorns definitely looked crisp on Saturday, routing the Cowboys 7-1 in the second game of a three-game series.

“I think they put too much pressure on themselves to do more than they’re capable of (yesterday),” Pierce said. “Nice bounce back though. (Oklahoma State) took advantage of some stuff that we did yesterday, and we did that today. Now we got a Sunday rubber match.”

Junior pitcher Nolan Kingham served as the team’s workhorse, throwing a career-high 117 pitches in eight innings. After throwing a complete game in his last start, this marked the third time this year Kingham has gone for at least eight innings.

For the second consecutive start, the right-hander didn’t walk any batters and has now walked only eight hitters on the season. With his full arsenal on display, Kingham was happy with his command and location Saturday afternoon.

“The whole day I said live and die with the sinker away, the fastball away and even my changeup,” Kingham said. “Everything down and away really worked today.”

Texas waited until the ninth inning to score Friday but was much quicker to strike Saturday. In the bottom of the third, sophomore infielder David Hamilton led off the frame with a walk. After stealing second, Hamilton advanced to third on a sacrifice fly from junior infielder Masen Hibbeler.

With Hamilton in scoring position, sophomore outfielder Duke Ellis squeezed in a two-out RBI single through Oklahoma State’s third baseman and shortstop to give Texas a 1-0 advantage.

The Longhorns added another run in the fourth. In the fifth, it was Ellis again coming through with a two-out RBI single. Redshirt junior Todd Shaw opened the inning with a double and, two batters later, Ellis sneaked in another hit through the infield.

Ellis said he kept his approach simple in two-out situations.

“I just stayed short to the ball,” Ellis said. “I found the pitch that I could hit hard and I kept (my swing) short and sweet.”

Oklahoma State drew closer in the sixth, adding a run to make the game 3-1. But that was as close as the Cowboys got.

In the bottom of the inning, Texas scored three runs to put the game on ice. Junior catcher DJ Petrinsky was the team’s catalyst, bringing in two runs with an RBI double down the left-field line.

After struggling with runners in scoring position this season, Petrinsky almost didn’t have the chance.

“I really considered pinch-hitting for him right there,” Pierce said. “I talked with him after his previous at-bat and just said, ‘Hey, just relax and be ready to get a pitch.’ Really happy for him because he’s been beating himself up.”

The Longhorns doubled their hitting total from Friday night, finishing with eight hits. Along with Ellis, sophomore outfielder Ryan Reynolds was the other Longhorn with a multi-hit game.

With the series tied at a game a piece, Texas and Oklahoma State square off in a rubber match at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday at UFCU Disch-Falk Field. Junior pitcher Chase Shugart will get the start on the mound for the Longhorns.

Sophomore pitcher Blair Henley delivers a pitch during Texas’ game against Louisiana-Lafayette on Feb. 18. Henley kept the Tigers off the board for six innings during Texas’ 11-1  victory on Sunday afternoon. 

Photo Credit: Katie Bauer | Daily Texan Staff

Texas seems to have found its stride entering conference play. After a five-game losing streak to end the nonconference season, the Longhorns are back on track.

Texas (11–9) took the opening game of the series against Kansas on Friday, and the Longhorns won again on Saturday, this time by a score of 4-0.

The story of the game was sophomore starting pitcher Blair Henley, who threw seven complete innings, allowing just five hits and zero runs. Henley came into the day with a 2–1 record in four appearances and sported a 2.35 ERA. Saturday’s numbers will further his impressive statistics for the year.

One of Henley’s more impressive traits relative to his fellow Texas pitchers is his command of the fastball. His ability to place the ball down in the zone this year has helped him out immensely, especially against an early-season schedule that was loaded with fastball hitters.

Texas head coach David Pierce even went as far as to say that Henley’s fastball command was “outstanding.”

“We just did our job all around (today),” Henley said. “(I) commanded the fastball again, like I try to do every week. Then I mixed my other two, three pitches in when I had to. Other than that, all we had to do is go out there and compete like we do every time.”

Another revelation from the pitching staff Saturday was the long-awaited return of a solid pitching performance from junior closer Beau Ridgeway.

Ridgeway, who has struggled on the mound recently no matter the situation, finally showed Texas fans a glimpse of the dominant reliever he had proven himself to be over the last two years.

Ridgeway came into a tough situation with zero outs in the eighth inning, with men on first and second base. His performance was nothing short of fantastic, as he made quick work of the eighth and was lights-out in the ninth. In total, Ridgeway threw for two complete innings and allowed zero runs and only one hit.

“For him to come in and get the job done was as big for him as it was for the team,” Pierce said. “Just another confidence booster. When I went to the mound, I started saying and rattling a bunch of stuff to him, then I finally just looked at him and said, ‘Believe in yourself and compete.’ And that’s what he did.”

Offensively, Texas had an average day at the plate. The team only scored four runs on seven hits and surprisingly struggled to put good swings on the ball. The Longhorns were able to do more than enough, however, as the four runs comfortably gave Texas the win.

Junior infielder Kody Clemens, though, continued to play out of his mind. He went 2-4 at the plate and had two RBIs. His shining moment of the game was his solo home run in the bottom of the first inning. Clemens showed that he has plenty of power, as he made it a team-leading five home runs on the season.

“(Kody’s) not only a leader, he’s just fun,” Pierce said. “He plays the game with energy. He plays the game with passion. And when he’s swinging it well, he’s as good as anybody.”

Texas will play its final game of the Kansas series on Sunday, looking for a sweep. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m.

Photo Credit: Katie Bauer | Daily Texan Staff

In a four-game tilt that began with promise, Texas lost the series finale to No. 7 Stanford in embarrassing fashion on Sunday afternoon at UFCU Disch-Falk Field. The Longhorns got pummeled, 11-1.

After winning the first game of the series on Thursday night, the No. 23 Longhorns (9–7) dropped three straight to Stanford, their longest losing streak of the young season.

“We’re embarrassed right now,” Texas head coach David Pierce said. “We had great fan support all weekend and we just didn’t play well. You can’t get by with mistakes and opportunities when they arise against good teams. We didn’t capitalize on anything all weekend.”

As in the previous two games, Stanford snatched the momentum in the first inning. An error by the Longhorns allowed the Cardinal’s leadoff batter to reach first, and junior pitcher Chase Shugart proceeded to give up a single. Two batters later, Shugart gave up a deep home run to left field, a blast that stole the life from a packed Disch-Falk Field and gave Stanford a 3-0 lead.

Texas never recovered. The Longhorns failed to reach base until the seventh inning and finished with a season-low two hits.

“I thought their pitcher pitched well, but we were very undisciplined at home plate,” Pierce said. “We had a really poor approach for the type of weather we were playing in. That’s the bottom line.”

Things got ugly in the sixth. In a poor showing on the mound, the Longhorns shuffled through three different pitchers and gave up six runs on only two hits. In total, there were five walks, two wild pitches and a hit batter in the inning.

Pierce was disappointed in his team’s lack of composure after trailing early.

“It seems that when we’re down by three, guys start panicking,” Pierce said. “When things are going well, they need to stick with it, and when we struggle, they need to get back to their discipline and get back to the things that made them good. That’s my biggest message to them.”

The blowout loss ends a series that started on a high note. In Thursday’s series opener, Texas scored in six of eight innings and rode its bats to an 8-6 victory. Four Longhorns had multihit games, and freshman pitcher Nico O’Donnell had another solid showing.

But the Longhorn bats went quiet the rest of the weekend against a dominant Stanford pitching staff. On Friday, Texas was stifled in a 7-1 loss, scoring their lone run late when the game was already out of reach.

On Saturday, Texas had a series-high three-run fourth inning. But the team was shutout in the other eight frames, in what turned into a runaway 9-3 win for Stanford.

Texas’ starting pitching didn’t fare much better against the Cardinal as the weekend progressed. Junior pitcher Nolan Kingham and sophomore pitcher Blair Henley both gave up five earned runs in six-inning starts. Overall, the Longhorns gave up 33 runs in four games, by far their most in a series.

“First, I will credit Stanford for fighting off some tough pitches,” Pierce said. “I think you have to be able to pitch them in late, and we just didn’t get the ball in. The bottom line with our pitchers, when we throw quality pitches, the goal is to be able to repeat that. We just didn’t repeat our best pitches.”

Texas will try to shake the sting off the series loss as it prepares for a quick turnaround. The Longhorns head to Fayetteville on Tuesday to take on Arkansas in the first of a two-game series.

Pierce’s message was simple as the team heads out of town.

“Regroup,” Pierce said. “Get back to trusting yourself. We just got done with playing one of the better teams in the country. We have to learn from them and take it personally.”

With two outs in the top of the first on Saturday at UFCU Disch-Falk Field, Stanford plopped an innocent fly ball to center field.

What looked like a routine fly ball dropped in between three Longhorn defenders — none of whom signaled for the ball — and led to the Cardinal scoring their first run of the game.

Texas would get out of the inning without any further damage, but the mistake set the tone and got things rolling for Stanford early in what turned out be a lopsided 9-3 loss for the No. 23 Longhorns.

“It did (affect us mentally),” Texas head coach David Pierce said. “We just had a communication breakdown. David (Hamilton) has to keep going when an outfielder doesn’t call him off, and Kam (Fields) just got a poor read. It was just a poorly played ball.”

The No. 7 Cardinal jumped out to a big lead in the second. Sophomore pitcher Blair Henley struggled with his control in the frame, walking two batters and hitting another. Stanford capitalized, notching four runs in the inning thanks to a triplet of singles.

Texas (9–6) made things more interesting in the bottom of the fourth.

Junior infielder Masen Hibbeler got things started with a deep double to left field, and junior infielder Kody Clemens followed with a walk. Freshman designated hitter Zach Zubia took advantage, launching a home run over the left-field wall to pull Texas within 5-3. Texas proceeded to load the bases but failed to induce any more damage in the inning.

But outside of a fourth inning in which Texas recorded four hits, Texas was quiet. The team was shutout in eight innings, managing only three hits.

Despite the lack of success against one of the top pitching units in the country, Pierce thought the team did well enough against Stanford’s starter Erik Miller to win the game.

“They threw some great arms at us. They had Miller going up to 97 MPH with good stuff,” Pierce said. “I don’t like our results against him, but we got him out of the game. We put ourselves in a position to have a shot in the middle of the game.”

Stanford put the game on ice in the ninth inning, dashing any hopes of a Longhorn comeback. The Cardinal rocked junior pitcher Beau Ridgeway, going on a four-run spurt that was highlighted by a booming three-run home run over right field.

Henley came into the game sporting a 0.53 ERA but had a disappointing outing statistically. The sophomore gave up five earned runs on five hits and walked four batters in six innings.

However, Pierce commended his pitcher’s ability to bounce back from a rough start.

“The third through the sixth (inning) I loved him,” Pierce said. “He was ticked off and he got in attack mode. He let some calls affect him early, but he overcame it. He didn’t give up anything else.”

Texas has one last game remaining against Stanford on Sunday at 1 p.m. and will look get a series split.

Photo Credit: Brooke Crim | Daily Texan Staff

In a very different looking ball game from Thursday night, Texas struggled to get anything going offensively or on the mound against No. 7 Stanford on Friday. Once Stanford took the lead in the first inning, it never looked back and finished off a 7-1 drubbing of the No. 23 Longhorns at UFCU Disch-Falk Field.

Texas (9–5) struggled all night to put the bat on the ball, recording only six hits. Compared to the Longhorns, the Cardinal put on a show with 13 hits.

Redshirt freshman Zach Zubia said afterward that the focus is all on Saturday’s game now.

“We’ve got to come back tomorrow, grind out at-bats tomorrow and hopefully come out with a W tomorrow,” Zubia said. “You never want to be satisfied with a loss. As a team, we’re going to come out tomorrow hopefully clear-minded. I have full faith in this team that we’ll get over this.”

After the loss, Texas head coach David Pierce didn’t look shocked. He didn’t gasp for air. Frankly, he didn’t even seem too surprised.

With a guy like Stanford’s Kris Bubic on the mound, all Pierce could do was just shake his head and give Bubic credit.

Bubic’s stats coming into Friday night’s game included a 2–0 record, a 1.56 ERA and an opponent batting average of .180. The lefty’s Friday night was virtually flawless, as Bubic went for six whole innings, allowed three hits and let up only one run.

“Just a tough one,” Pierce said. “I thought Bubic was as advertised. He was very good tonight. We had minimum opportunities. We knew that we weren’t going to have a ton of them. So when we get those chances, we have to come up with a clutch hit.”

Pierce, who acknowledged that the Longhorns realistically only had two chances to score over the course of the game, mostly chalked up the loss to the impressive performance by the red-hot Bubic. But Pierce also gave some of the blame to his starting pitcher, junior Nolan Kingham.

Kingham, who moved to 2–2, has struggled in his last three outings. After lighting up the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns in the season opener, Kingham has since been very pedestrian. In each of his last two starts — LSU and Northwestern — the Longhorns have ended up with another tally in the loss column.

Friday night’s performance was all too familiar for Kingham. He left the game after six innings, having allowed 10 hits and five earned runs while only managing to strike out three. Pierce has seen the struggles and said he knows which areas Kingham needs to improve in.

“(Kingham) left the ball up,” Pierce said. “And with his best two pitches, he’s got to get the ball down. He’s got to get committed this week to really getting into his legs a little more, getting out to his front side. It’s a good test for him. He hasn’t been as sharp as his opening night. We’ve got to get him right.”

The season is still young, so all hope for Kingham to return to his ace form is not lost — at least not yet.

Texas and Stanford return to Disch-Falk Field on Saturday for the third game of the series. First pitch is scheduled for 2:30 p.m.

After what seemed like a surprise loss on Friday night, Texas was not shaken. Instead, the Longhorns were energized to return on Saturday and inflict some damage to Northwestern.

In a doubleheader on Saturday that lasted from 1:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., Texas controlled nearly every inning of play in the 18-inning affair.

From game one in which Texas pulled away 10-7 to a 13-1 game two where Texas absolutely poured it on the Wildcats in the rain, it seemed as if Texas had all eight hours in its grasp.

“We did what we were supposed to do today,” Texas head coach David Pierce said. “We came out and took charge of the game.”

Saturday’s first game was the more lackluster of the two by the pitching staff. Junior Nolan Kingham threw for 5.2 innings, allowing seven hits and three earned runs. He was followed by redshirt junior Andy McGuire and junior Beau Ridgeway, who finished the game and allowed five hits and three earned runs.

Texas’ offense was led by the long ball in the first outing. Home runs by junior Kody Clemens and sophomores Ryan Reynolds and Duke Ellis were the story of the game. Couple that with eight walks allowed by Northwestern, and it was too great a deficit to overcome for the Wildcats.

Game two showed more dominance from the pitching staff as starter sophomore Blair Henley threw six innings, allowed only two hits and shut out Northwestern. Through the rest of the game, junior Parker Joe Robinson and sophomore Bryce Verplank combined to allow only two hits and one earned run.

“I didn’t have many strikeouts,” Henley said. “But my defense, they do what they do, and the results are going to come.”

The offense in the second game was more or less stoked by inconsistent arms for Northwestern. The Wildcats’ pitching staff walked 11 Texas batters and hit multiple others. It seemed as if every inning at least one Longhorn would jog down to first for free.

The most devastating inning for Northwestern was the third, in which the Wildcats gave up seven runs to Texas.

“We had a lot of free passes,” Pierce said. “We got pitches to drive, and we were ready for them. And we had some success. That’s how you get the big innings.”

Fueling the fire

Northwestern gave Texas something to chew on after its loss Friday night. At the end of the game, the video board caught an image of Northwestern center fielder David Dunn giving a “horns down” hand gesture as he ran off of the field.

That did not sit well with Texas players. Starters from each game took their shot at Dunn, hitting him once.

“Any time someone throws a horns down, they’re going to have it coming back at them,” Henley said. “We don’t like that. Nobody likes that, especially as a Texan.”

Pierce said that the coaching staff understood the situation. He said that the team discussed the matter and did not take it lightly.

“We had a pretty good, extensive meeting about a lot of things and about who we are and our maturity,” Pierce said. “Being involved in the game, understanding situations learning from our opponents. We do that pretty frequently. But I think the kids understood what was going on there.”

Texas takes the field for its final game of the four-game series at 1 p.m. Sunday at UFCU Disch-Falk Field.

Texas and Northwestern were practically equals in the hitting department Friday night, and the Longhorns walked twice as often. But the Wildcats took advantage of runners on the bags — something the Longhorns failed to do — and that proved to be the difference in a 6-2 loss for Texas.

The Longhorns left 10 runners on the bases, while Northwestern left only four.

“We need to work better as a team together,” redshirt junior catcher Michael McCann said. “We got runners on base early and we pop out and roll early and we don’t get the runners in. We start out hot, but we don’t capitalize. It’s really frustrating and we have to grind out at bats early.”

Northwestern struck first. After getting through his first three batters unblemished, junior pitcher Chase Shugart walked a Wildcat to open the second. After Shugart gave up his first hit of the contest, Northwestern singled to score the game’s first run.

But like they’ve done at home all season, Texas was quick to rally back. In the bottom of the third, sophomore outfielder Duke Ellis hit a single to send McCann to second after McCann had walked. After a Northwestern error loaded the bases, McCann scored on a groundout to first from junior Kody Clemens.

But the wheels fell off for Shugart and the Longhorns in the fifth. The pitcher hit two batters in the frame and gave up a pair of hits. Northwestern capitalized on the junior’s control issues and jumped out to a 3-1 advantage.

The Longhorns added a run in the bottom of the fifth, but Shugart’s continued issues would keep the game out of reach. Against the first batter of the sixth, Shugart gave up a monster home run to left field. He then surrendered a single and, following an error and a wild pitch, the runner reached third. A batter latter, Northwestern recorded a sac-fly to extend its lead to 5-2.

“When (Shugart) got the ball down, he was really good,” head coach David Pierce said. “But when they had (runners on base), his peripheral couldn’t handle the running game and he got the ball up. Once he got the ball up, (Northwestern) took advantage of it.”

The Wildcats added another run in the ninth inning, and the Longhorns never threatened any further.

Texas finished with seven hits but struggled with strikeouts. The team struck out nine times compared to only five walks. Redshirt freshman infielder Zach Zubia paced the offense, finishing 2-for-3 with an RBI and also reached on a walk.

The starting pitching for the Longhorns was shakier than it has been for most of the season. Shugart surrendered five earned runs and gave up six hits. However, the relief put forth a solid outing, with freshman Bryce Elder and redshirt junior Josh Sawyer combining for three two-hit innings.

Texas will get multiple shots at redemption tomorrow, when they take on the Wildcats in a Saturday double-header. The first game is schedule for 1:30 p.m. at UFCU Disch-Falk Field.

“We’ve got three games in two days and they’ve got all the momentum,” Pierce said. “We need everybody to be ready and do their job when they’re called on. Tonight, we just didn’t get it done, and it’s that simple.”

Photo Credit: Katie Bauer | Daily Texan Staff

In what was probably the least exciting and fulfilling game of the weekend, Texas failed to complete the series sweep of Louisiana-Lafayette on Sunday afternoon at UFCU Disch-Falk Field.

The Longhorns fell to the Ragin’ Cajuns, 2-1, in a game that totaled 10 combined hits and featured dominant pitching performances and stellar defensive plays.

“It was a great series against a good team,” Texas head coach David Pierce said. “We really faced some good pitching, and we grew up this weekend. That’s for sure.”

Texas’ starting pitcher, sophomore Blair Henley, threw five innings, allowing five hits and one earned run. His successors, redshirt juniors Josh Sawyer and Andy McGuire, were equally efficient, allowing one earned run on only one hit. Junior third baseman Kody Clemens believed that the pitching staff did more than enough to put the Longhorns in a position to win on Sunday.

“Nolan (Kingham), Chase (Shugart) and Blair (Henley) all threw really well,” Clemens said. “Unfortunately, we couldn’t get the run production we needed to win this last game. We learned a lot. I thought the pitchers threw well, but we just got to get better.”

The offense struggled to get anything going behind Texas’ pitching, particularly with bringing the runs in. Clemens collected two of Texas’ four hits with his two singles. The theme of the game seemed to be hard-hit balls in easy-to-reach places.

“Today was rough,” Pierce said. “We hit a lot of balls hard today. Had no luck today. Some quality at-bats, a couple mistake pitches and that was the difference.”

The weekend as whole showed plenty of promise for the Longhorns’ 2018 season. The first day exhibited a true top-of-the-rotation “ace” pitcher in junior Nolan Kingham. He started off the season with one of the best starts of his career, pitching eight shutout innings and a career-high 10 strikeouts while giving up only three hits.

“It was awesome. It was awesome going out there and going as long as I can, but with this group of guys, I think it’s expected,” Kingham said. “So we’re just going to keep moving forward and build off it.”

The second game of the series brought with it some drama and late-inning fireworks. After grabbing, losing, re-grabbing and re-losing the lead, Texas ended the day with a bang. Sophomore outfielder Austin Todd called ballgame in the bottom of the ninth with a moon shot to left field, giving the Longhorns a 5-3 win. The walk-off homerun sent fans into a frenzy and left Todd’s face covered in shaving cream and grinning from ear-to-ear.

“Personally, it was my first-time ever to hit a walk-off,” Todd said. “And it’s probably one of the greatest feelings I’ve ever had playing baseball.”

The most eye-catching offensive revelation of the weekend may have been from Texas’ two and three-hole hitters — junior infielder Masen Hibbeler and Clemens, who are each batting at or above .500.

“I think (we) can go a long way,” Clemens said. “Masen’s the type of dude — he’s got the type of mindset (to be special). He’s going to be a stud all year. I know that if I keep this consistency, us two are going to produce.”

Pierce’s overall takeaways from the weekend were positive. He believes his team is right where it needs to be, even though it couldn’t close out the series with a sweep.

“You’ve got to build off of this,” Pierce said. “It’s a good, quality team. They’re picked to win the Sun Belt. Sure, we’d want the sweep. We’d like to finish. We just couldn’t get a clutch hit, and (we) made a couple of mistake pitches.”

The Longhorns will take to the diamond on Wednesday when they face Lamar at home before heading to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to play LSU in a weekend series. First pitch at Disch-Falk Field on Wednesday will be at 7:30 p.m.