Longhorns drop series opener to Kansas State

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Photo Credit: Katie Bauer | Daily Texan Staff

Almost midway through the season, sophomore pitcher Blair Henley has been a sure bet on Texas’ pitching staff. Going into Thursday’s matchup with  Kansas State, Henley had five quality starts in six appearances and led all starters with a 2.75 ERA.

The Wildcats would get the better of Henley, however, chasing the righty after 3.1 innings — his shortest start of the season — en route to a 5-2 victory over the Longhorns. In his short time on the mound, Henley gave up nine hits and four of Kansas State’s runs.

The Wildcats would do the bulk of their damage in the second inning. Henley gave up four hits in the inning, including back-to-back doubles that knocked in three runs for the Wildcats.

Texas would inch closer in the next frame. After sophomore outfielder Austin Todd led off the inning with a walk, junior outfielder Tate Shaw sent a single to right field to get the Longhorns’ their first runs of the game.

With Texas trailing 3-1 in the bottom of the fourth, Henley surrendered base hits to three of the first four batters he faced, leading to another run for the Wildcats. The pitcher’s struggles would lead head coach David Pierce to pull the plug on his starter.

Asked to come in earlier than usual for a Henley start, the bullpen for Texas performed well. The pen held Kansas State to two hits for the remainder of the game and only allowed one additional run.

Freshman pitcher Matthew Whelan, who had seen only five innings of combined work this season, was impressive in an extended 2.2 inning outing. The freshman rendered the Wildcats hitless and allowed zero earned runs for the first time since an appearance against Lamar in the team’s opening week.

Despite the performance from the bullpen, Texas found itself in too big of a hole to dig out of. The Longhorns were limited at the plate, knocking in only five hits in the contest. This marks the second straight game for the team with five hits or less.

Still, Texas had its opportunities. In the top of the seventh, senior infielder Jake McKenzie led the inning with a single, and junior infielder Kody Clemens followed with a double to put runners on second and third base. Two batters later, junior infielder Masen Hibbeler would hit a sacrifice fly to bring the score to 4-2. But with a runner in scoring position, sophomore infielder David Hamilton would ground out to end the inning.

The pair of Clemens and Shaw accounted for most of the Longhorns’ offense Thursday night. Clemens had a pair of doubles, while Shaw recorded a double and a single. Even without a hit, Todd also had a successful night for Texas, reaching first base three times after a trio of walks.

For the second consecutive week, Texas opens up a conference series with a loss. The team will look to get back on track tomorrow night, as the series continues at 6:30 p.m. at Frank Myers Field in Manhattan, Kansas.