Texas went 30 straight innings without allowing a run, but when Kansas State ended that streak Sunday, the Longhorns depended on their own bats to complete a series sweep of the Wildcats.
Texas relied on dominant pitching performances from sophomore Nolan Kingham and redshirt junior Morgan Cooper the first two wins of the series. But after Kansas State plated four runs in the fifth inning of the final game, Texas needed offense. And they got it.
Kansas State kept fighting back, but a solo shot from sophomore Kody Clemens in the seventh put Texas up for good in a narrow 6-5 victory Sunday afternoon at UFCU Disch-Falk Field. The series sweep improves Texas’ conference record to 3-3, just one weekend after being swept by No. 3 Texas Tech.
“It just puts us back in the race,” head coach David Pierce said. “We’ve got to continue to get better and continue to play hard and I really saw that this entire weekend.”
The Longhorn pitching staff was on fire in the series, shutting out Kansas State in back-to-back games. But freshman Blair Henley found himself in a jam in the final game of the series. The freshman faced loaded bases in the fifth after walking two batters. Henley allowed two runs, four hits and four walks for the day.
Sophomore Chase Shugart entered the game in the middle of the fifth where Texas streak of 30 innings without allowing a hit came to an end and the Longhorns faced their first deficit of the series. But once Shugart got out of the fifth, he only allow one more run before sophomore Beau Ridgeway closed the game.
“It can’t get much better the first two days, just tremendous,” Pierce said. “The thing with Blair is that he just has to maintain his focus … He’s just got to grow and continue to grow, but starting pitching was outstanding, Beau Ridgeway was outstanding, and Chase Shugart was very good.”
Although Henley was responsible for two runs, his outfield saved him from two more. Kansas State sent a shot to deep left field, but sophomore Tate Shaw darted back, threw his upper body over wall and snagged the ball, robbing the Wildcats of a two-run homer.
“Tate’s amazing play that he had gave us a ton of emotion,” sophomore designated hitter Kody Clemens said. “We were very emotional, everyone was real happy about it. It gave us that fire to come out and produce for our pitchers.”
The Longhorns loaded the bases in the sixth and junior Travis Jones took it from there. Jones sent a perfectly placed ball directly down the left field line, clearing the bases and giving Texas a 5-4 lead.
Then Clemens sent a bomb over the left field wall in the seventh to secure Texas’ 6-5 victory.
“It was a fastball low and away,” Clemens said. “Then I saw it go over the wall and I just let all emotions out.”
Texas (17-10, 3-3 Big 12) will head to Corpus Christi on Tuesday to take on Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in a non-conference matchup before heading to Lawrence, Kansas, for a three-game series with the Jayhawks.