Nolan Kingham

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.

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.

Photo Credit: Elias Huerta

After a dominant sophomore campaign in 2017, junior pitcher Nolan Kingham came into this season surrounded by a cloud of hype and high expectations.

The preseason All-American more than lived up to the billing Friday night at UFCU Disch-Falk Field, frustrating Louisiana-Lafayette batters en route to a career-high 10 strikeouts and a shutout 3-0 opening day victory for Texas.                     

“Nolan was disgusting,” sophomore infielder David Hamilton said. “He was good last year, but he’s a completely different animal this year. He’s really good.”

After giving up a single to his first batter of the season, Kingham locked in, allowing only two hits and a walk the rest of the way. He threw an efficient 89 pitches in eight innings of work.

“First innings were a bit bumpy, and I think I was a bit antsy and was trying to do too much,” Kingham said. “But after that I settled in and everything took care of itself. It’s awesome going out there for as long as a can. I felt a lot more juiced up tonight.”

While a strong pitching night from Kingham has come to be expected for Texas, it was a fresh face making the difference in the Longhorns’ lineup. Junior infielder Masen Hibbeler, a transfer from Odessa College, dazzled in his Texas debut.  Hibbeler notched three hits — half of Texas’ total for the game — scored two runs and stole two bases.

Hibbeler fed off the thrill of playing his first game as a Longhorn.

“First game here (at Texas) and it’s a lot of fun — I learned that real quick,” Hibbeler said. “I just tried to stick to my approach and keep it simple and keep it rolling.”

Texas’ bats were far from explosive in the opener, but the team managed just enough offense to coast to a win. The Longhorns stranded eight runners on base and struggled to get the ball out of the infield, managing only two extra base hits.

Despite the apparent struggles, head coach David Pierce was still satisfied with Texas’ offensive performance. He praised the team’s quality at-bats and patience at the plate.

“One thing that’s probably going to go overlooked is that I really thought our offense was much better than what the scoreboard said,” Pierce said. “We had a lot of quality at-bats. There’s improvements to be made, but I was really pleased with our approaches (at the plate).”

Hamilton scored the game’s first run in the bottom of the third inning on an RBI groundout from sophomore outfielder Austin Todd.

In the fifth, it was Hibbeler that found a way to round the bases. After a single and a steal to leadoff the inning, the infielder made his way to third base after a balk from the pitcher. Junior infielder Kody Clemens sent Hibbeler home with an RBI single to right field. Hibbeler scored another insurance run in the seventh off an RBI double from sophomore outfielder Austin Todd.

The win marked the first opening day victory for the Longhorns since 2015. The team returns to Disch Falk-Field Saturday at 2:30 p.m., as Texas goes for the series win and looks to build off the momentum from a solid start to the season.

“With this group of guys, winning is expected,” Kingham said. “We’re just going to keep moving forward. It’s Opening Day — you can make it as big as you want, but it’s just another game.”