The sea of burnt orange in a crowd of 6,985 erupted at UFCU Disch-Falk Field as Texas A&M watched the Longhorns storm the field after it left the game-tying run 60 feet away from the plate.
The Lone Star Showdown was decided by one run on the last out, again. But this time it was Texas celebrating on its home turf Tuesday night.
Texas A&M only needed to plate the runner on third base to tie the game and send it into the bottom of the ninth. But Texas refused to give it up as the Longhorns celebrated a 4-3 victory over No. 13 Texas A&M one year after the Aggies flipped the horns down.
“It was the most electric atmosphere in the country tonight,” head coach David Pierce. “I can promise you that. Two great teams going at it, rival teams, it doesn’t get any better … It’s not just another Tuesday night. It’s a great builder for our program and for our players to feel like they can compete and beat anybody in the country.”
Former Texas quarterback Colt McCoy got a standing ovation as he took the mound to toss the ceremonial first pitch before the Longhorns and Aggies took the field, but the pitcher who got the start for Texas got an ovation of his own after his performance.
Texas held a 4-1 lead after five innings of play thanks to the dominant performance of sophomore Nick Kennedy. The right hander threw for six strikeouts and only gave up one run on two hits in his performance on the mound.
“He did a great job tonight,” redshirt sophomore catcher Michael McCann said. “His command was there. He had, I’d say, his highest level of confidence tonight throughout the whole time he has pitched. He did really well.”
Texas struggled at the plate with no runs on no hits through three innings. That all changed in the bottom of the fourth. Three base hits with the help of errors, balls and wild pitches helped the Longhorns get three runs on the board.
The Aggies made errors — a lot of them. Texas A&M finished Tuesday night’s matchup with four errors, which played a significant role in Texas plating four runs.
Texas held a 4-1 lead, but that all changed in the eighth. Junior Kyle Johnston walked three of the six batters he faced, including a full-count walk with bases loaded, which cut Texas’ lead to 4-2 and ended Johnston’s night on the mound.
Sophomore Beau Ridgeway trotted from the bullpen towards the mound in the bases loaded, no out jam in the eighth. Texas led 4-2 at that point, but one play by senior first baseman Kacy Clemens completely changed what could have been a huge inning for Texas A&M.
The Aggies attempted to bunt the game-tying run home, but Clemens sprinted towards the ball and tossed it to senior catcher Michael Cantu who tagged out the runner just before he slid home.
“Coach put on a play where I’m looking for the safety squeeze,” Clemens said. “He actually put it on late … so right when the pitcher kicked up I looked him and he squared to bunt and I was hauling to get the ball and luckily made a good play on it. Michael was there to catch a good toss and that was obviously a big out.”
Although that was just the second out of the inning, it didn’t leave the Aggies much momentum to work with, allowing the Longhorns to escape the eighth with only allowing one run across the plate.
The Longhorns had two down in the top of the ninth but Texas A&M’s game-tying run stood on third base once again But sophomore Chase Shugart closed the game on the mound with a groundout to send the Aggies home with a 4-3 loss.
“Them coming back right there just makes it even more what the rivalry is suppose to be about,” Clemens said. “It wouldn’t have been a fun game if it was 4-1 in the ninth and we just close it out. We had to make it interesting. It seems to be like that a lot, but fortunately we were on the winning side this time.”
The Longhorns (13-6) have two days off, but their schedule doesn’t get any easier. Texas is set to host No. 6 Texas Tech in its conference opener at UFCU Disch-Falk Field on Friday.