After what seemed like a surprise loss on Friday night, Texas was not shaken. Instead, the Longhorns were energized to return on Saturday and inflict some damage to Northwestern.
In a doubleheader on Saturday that lasted from 1:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., Texas controlled nearly every inning of play in the 18-inning affair.
From game one in which Texas pulled away 10-7 to a 13-1 game two where Texas absolutely poured it on the Wildcats in the rain, it seemed as if Texas had all eight hours in its grasp.
“We did what we were supposed to do today,” Texas head coach David Pierce said. “We came out and took charge of the game.”
Saturday’s first game was the more lackluster of the two by the pitching staff. Junior Nolan Kingham threw for 5.2 innings, allowing seven hits and three earned runs. He was followed by redshirt junior Andy McGuire and junior Beau Ridgeway, who finished the game and allowed five hits and three earned runs.
Texas’ offense was led by the long ball in the first outing. Home runs by junior Kody Clemens and sophomores Ryan Reynolds and Duke Ellis were the story of the game. Couple that with eight walks allowed by Northwestern, and it was too great a deficit to overcome for the Wildcats.
Game two showed more dominance from the pitching staff as starter sophomore Blair Henley threw six innings, allowed only two hits and shut out Northwestern. Through the rest of the game, junior Parker Joe Robinson and sophomore Bryce Verplank combined to allow only two hits and one earned run.
“I didn’t have many strikeouts,” Henley said. “But my defense, they do what they do, and the results are going to come.”
The offense in the second game was more or less stoked by inconsistent arms for Northwestern. The Wildcats’ pitching staff walked 11 Texas batters and hit multiple others. It seemed as if every inning at least one Longhorn would jog down to first for free.
The most devastating inning for Northwestern was the third, in which the Wildcats gave up seven runs to Texas.
“We had a lot of free passes,” Pierce said. “We got pitches to drive, and we were ready for them. And we had some success. That’s how you get the big innings.”
Fueling the fire
Northwestern gave Texas something to chew on after its loss Friday night. At the end of the game, the video board caught an image of Northwestern center fielder David Dunn giving a “horns down” hand gesture as he ran off of the field.
That did not sit well with Texas players. Starters from each game took their shot at Dunn, hitting him once.
“Any time someone throws a horns down, they’re going to have it coming back at them,” Henley said. “We don’t like that. Nobody likes that, especially as a Texan.”
Pierce said that the coaching staff understood the situation. He said that the team discussed the matter and did not take it lightly.
“We had a pretty good, extensive meeting about a lot of things and about who we are and our maturity,” Pierce said. “Being involved in the game, understanding situations learning from our opponents. We do that pretty frequently. But I think the kids understood what was going on there.”
Texas takes the field for its final game of the four-game series at 1 p.m. Sunday at UFCU Disch-Falk Field.