Kody Clemens

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.

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.