It took them extra innings, but the Longhorns were able to pick up their second conference win of the season, a 4-3 nail-biter over Kansas State at Disch-Falk Field.
With the game tied heading into the bottom of the 10th inning, freshman Erich Weiss hit a double to right field, then advanced to third on a Lucas Kephart ground out. The Wildcats then elected to intentionally walk both Cohl Walla and Jacob Felts, putting them in a position defensively to get an inning-ending double play with a force at any base. Tant Shepherd struck out for Texas’ next at-bat, and head coach Augie Garrido called upon senior Kevin Lusson to pinch-hit with two outs.
But Lusson wouldn’t have to do much hitting, or swinging for that matter.
He just watched and waited as Kansas State’s Gerardo Esquivel threw him three straight balls, took one strike for good measure, and then watched the fourth and decisive Esquivel ball go by him for the game ending walk-off walk.
“It’s the long walk home,” Texas head coach Augie Garrido said. “Our guys just had to stand there and watch the ball go by.”
An RBI walk was how the Longhorns scored the tying run in the ninth inning as well, when Tim Maitland drew a walk to score Walla. The Wildcat pitchers struggled with their control, collectively walking eight batters in the game, and Garrido has a guess as to why they were so rattled on the mound.
“This is a game where the fans play a huge part. The home field advantage was very evident because unlike football or basketball players, baseball players are not use to playing in this environment,” he said. “You take young players and put them in different environments it has a huge effect on them.”
The Longhorns pushed the first run of the game across in the second inning with Kephart scoring an unearned run after a Wildcat throwing error.
Kansas State would take the scoring advantage the next inning, touching up Texas starter Hoby Milner for three runs. Milner settled down though, going four more innings without allowing another run. The sophomore lefty finished his day after the seventh inning, allowing those three runs and just five hits to go with six strikeouts.
“I felt like I could have kept going,” Milner said. “I did throw 102 pitches and since it was my second start in a while they didn’t want to push me any farther. I felt fine, but that third inning killed my pitch count.”
After Kirby Bellow and Kendal Carrillo patched together two innings of relief after Milner, freshman Corey Knebel came on in the tenth and picked up win.
The Longhorns (14-5, 2-0 Big 12) will go for the series sweep tomorrow against the Wildcats (12-6, 0-2) at 1 p.m., with senior Cole Green expected to get the start on the mound.