Louisiana-Lafayette might want to think again about pitching to Austin Todd.
In a 3-3 contest in the bottom of the ninth inning, the Ragin’ Cajuns intentionally walked junior third baseman Kody Clemens in order to get to the outfielder.
Todd felt disrespected — and he let everybody know.
The junior proceeded to belt a walk-off homer over the left-field wall, giving Texas a dramatic 5-3 victory, the Longhorns’ second consecutive win to start the season.
“I love when I have to play with a chip on my shoulder and when people don’t respect what I can do,” Todd said. “As soon as I hit it, I knew it was gone. This is my first-ever walk-off, and this is one of my favorite feelings I’ve ever had playing baseball.”
Todd was the savior of a team that looked to be on the verge of a collapse. Leading 2-1 heading into the ninth inning, Texas unraveled, surrendering two runs to the Ragin’ Cajuns.
But the Longhorns returned to the dugout convinced that they still had the game in hand. Sophomore outfielder Duke Ellis got the rally started with a single to start the bottom of the ninth. He was knocked in by junior infielder Masen Hibbeler. Two batters later, Todd launched the shot that sent the Longhorn faithful into a frenzy.
“The resiliency of this team was outstanding today,” Texas head coach David Pierce said. “After a brutal top of the ninth, guys had to execute and get things done. Nobody said, ‘Oh no, here we go.’ We just kept playing.”
Louisiana-Lafayette got the game’s scoring started, getting its first run of the series in the first inning. The frame began with an error by Clemens, whose errant throw to first allowed the Lafayette leadoff hitter to reach second on a slow roller down the left-field line.
Two batters later, junior pitcher Chase Shugart surrendered an RBI double to right field.
But the Longhorns did not trail for long, tying the game in the bottom of the first. In an inning with no hits, the team relied on the legs of sophomore infielder David Hamilton to manufacture a run.
Hamilton led the inning off with a walk and proceeded to steal second. The shortstop then darted to third after a passed ball and found his way home after beating out a play at the plate following a grounder to first.
Texas took its first lead in the fifth inning. Hamilton got things started with a single up the middle and, again, stole second. Clemens knocked in the run with an RBI single to the right two batters later to give the Longhorns a 2-1 advantage. That score held up until the wild ninth inning.
After a strong performance from junior pitcher Nolan Kingham on Friday night, the Longhorns’ starting pitching continued to shine. In 6.2 innings of work, Shugart finished with no walks and zero earned runs, allowing only three hits along the way. This was Shugart’s first career start for the team.
“I really commanded the fastball well today,” Shugart said. “After watching Nolan (Kingham) dominate with his fastball last night, I came into here with the attitude of, ‘Here it is, see if you can beat me.’”
If the Longhorns continue their trend of strong pitching and resilient hitting, the team will be tough to beat. Texas will go for the series sweep of Louisiana-Lafayette on Sunday at UFCU Disch-Falk Field, with the first pitch scheduled for 1 p.m.