In what will probably be the lowest-scoring game of the series, Texas dropped game one to Tennessee Tech in the Austin Super Regional on Saturday.
Tallying a final score of 5-4 in favor of the Golden Eagles, Texas missed a substantial part of its prowess on Saturday afternoon: its offense. Over the course of nine innings, Texas mustered only five hits. Of those five hits, three were from senior first baseman Jake McKenzie, including two doubles; one was from sophomore outfielder Duke Ellis; and the final was a solo home run from junior second baseman Kody Clemens.
“We have two more,” Clemens said. “This one, we have to learn from it. We didn’t execute. Learn from it, and we have two more games, so you better clear your mind.”
Texas’ arms, however, were a different story. Over the course of the afternoon, a different pitcher would step up and almost single-handedly keep Texas in the ball game. Starting with junior Nolan Kingham, who reportedly had a cyst removed earlier this week, and ending with redshirt junior Parker Joe Robinson, who had maybe the best outing of his career on the biggest stage, Texas’s arms were alive against the statistically best offense in the country.
Kingham began the game running on all cylinders. Through the fourth inning he had only let up two runs against a team that averages over 10 per game. In the fifth was where the wheels fell off, however, as two men found a way on and a double by Tennessee Tech’s Chase Chambers brought both men in. Soon after, a single would plate another and the Golden Eagles found themselves up by two runs.
Earlier in the game, Kingham stared down Tennessee Tech’s second baseman John Ham after successfully fielding a hit and throwing him out at first base. Chambers was sure to let Kingham have it after his double.
“I told him, ‘Don’t big-league us,’” Chambers said. “‘Don’t disrespect us.’ There was a few words I can’t say up here.”
After Kingham was pulled with two outs, a combination of freshman Kam Fields and redshirt juniors Josh Sawyer and Parker Joe Robinson would turn out to be Tennessee Tech’s kryptonite. The next 4.1 innings would not be perfect, but would somehow find a way to get back into the dugout without allowing a single run.
Fields and Sawyer would combine for 3.1 innings pitched, four walks and three strikeouts.
But when it was Robinson’s turn to pitch, he was nothing short of spectacular. Coming into a bases loaded, no-outs situation, Robinson proceeded to strikeout the next two batters and entice the final batter into a ground out. He finished the day with two innings pitched and four strikeouts in the seven batters faced.
“The performance Parker Joe did … it’s like Houdini coming in, and he’s been doing it all year,” Pierce said. “Just a tremendous job to keep us in the game and keep it a one-run deficit.”
Although Texas didn’t come out on top on Saturday, there’s still plenty of baseball to be played. This team, though it may seem superhuman as of late, has fought through its fair share of hard times all year.
“We’ve handled adversity all year so this is no different,” McKenzie said. “We lose game one, that’s why we play a three-game series. So we’re not worried about it.”
Sunday’s game will once again be played at UFCU Disch-Falk Field in Austin, Texas, against Tennessee Tech. First pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m.