Kingham seals series sweep for Longhorns

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Photo Credit: Joshua Guerra | Daily Texan Staff

Texas finished off the series sweep of New Orleans on Sunday afternoon, but the Privateers made things interesting. 

The Longhorns watched their 3-0 lead evaporate into a tied ballgame in the seventh inning of the final game of the series. Although the Longhorns didn’t record a hit until the bottom of the fifth inning and finished with more runs than hits (3), a dominant closing performance from sophomore pitcher Nolan Kingham allowed Texas to escape with a 4-3 win, capping off a
five-game winning streak dating back to last Sunday.

“We had a very good week,” head coach David Pierce said. “We played solid defense, we pitched all week. (We had) quality wins, (we’re) building a resume and continuing to do it.” 

The win comes after a dominant 7-1 performance Friday night followed by a narrow 3-2 victory Saturday.

One-run games have been the Achilles’ heel for the Longhorns this season, but they didn’t let that happen against the Privateers. 

“We know we’ve lost 11 one-run games this year,” senior center fielder Zane Gurwitz said. “And you can take that in a positive or a negative way. The positive is that it shows we’re one run away from every game we’re losing, we’re not necessarily getting blown out.”

The Longhorns made sure they didn’t add to that number this weekend. Texas found itself on the right end of two one-run games against New Orleans, including Sunday’s 4-3 win.

Junior Kyle Johnston got off to a good start on the mound. The right-hander threw a shutout until the sixth inning, then the Privateers battled back, ending Johnston’s afternoon after giving up two runs on four hits, two walks and three strikeouts in 5.2 innings.

Sophomore Chase Shugart took the mound for less than one inning and gave up one run, bringing the game to a 3-3 tie.

However, once sophomore Nolan Kingham got on the mound, New Orleans’ three-run comeback came to a screeching halt. Kingham, who’s usually a starter for Texas, didn’t give up a single run in his dominant
2.2-inning performance. 

“That’s why he’s our Friday night starter,” Pierce said. “He’s just got some great stuff. … He’s a great contributor for us, and I liked him in that role today.”

With the score knotted at 3-3, the Longhorns put together a timely response in the bottom of the seventh. With runners on second and third, junior Patrick Mathis sent a shot to left field for an RBI sac fly, which put Texas up 4-3. This time, the lead was for good. 

The Longhorns prepare for a neutral matchup with Louisiana Lafayette in Sugar Land, Texas, appearing to have found their rhythm in the late stages of the season. 

“Everything’s coming together,” Mathis said. “I’m really excited. … I feel like we’re really about to click and get hot, and it’s going to be fun.”