All this time, Texas thought it was the team built on pitching.
North Carolina freshman Kent Emanuel took the Longhorns to school Monday, giving up just four hits and walking one batter in a complete-game shutout that sends the team back to Austin after a brief stint in Omaha.
“He mixed pitches early in counts and kind of had us on our heels the entire game,” said junior shortstop Brandon Loy. “He hit spots and threw three pitches for strikes. That makes it tough on hitters.”
Emanuel looked like the starting pitcher Texas was missing. He was sharp even after reaching a 126 pitch count. The Longhorns were unable to even get a sharp hit off him.
“I threw inside less today than I have all year,” Emmanuel said. “It’s definitely from my changeup, just getting them out in front.”
Emanuel out-dueled Texas’ Cole Green — if you can call a two-inning, two-run outing a “duel” — and mastered the zone, walking only one hitter and throwing 84 of his pitches for strikes.
It was the second consecutive game the Texas offense struggled to get runners on base. On Saturday against Florida, the team was unable to draw a walk, and three of its four runs were unearned. But that’s not nearly as bad as the goose egg the Longhorns put on the board against the Tar Heels: four hits (UNC’s Ben Bunting had the same amount) and no runs, just the second time all year the team has been shut out.
With how dominant Emanuel was, and how poorly Texas swung the bats Monday, it’s no surprise that the Longhorns are leaving Omaha empty-handed.
“We never got the momentum, never,” said head coach Augie Garrido.
Against Emanuel, the Longhorns didn’t get a runner past second base. They struck out five times. They popped up a ton. As the game wore on, it became increasingly obvious that they were most likely not going to get a run off him. The eighth and ninth innings, the last two innings of the season, passed without a hit.
“We didn’t have very many opportunities throughout the game,” Garrido said. “But I do feel we battled hard at the plate.”