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AUSTIN — Following sophomore Nolan Kingham’s dominant complete game shutout yesterday, Texas looked to junior Morgan Cooper to help Texas defeat Kansas State and take its first conference series in 2017.
Cooper did just that, throwing eight dominant innings to silence Wildcat bats, while senior first baseman Kacy Clemens added two RBIs to pace Texas to a 5-0 victory.
Cooper dominated the entire game, with the Wildcats only managing to get two runners to second base. Those runners were the only two K-State players to get hits off of Cooper. Cooper threw four perfect innings on the day, half of his eight total, along with four walks and 11 strikeouts.
“I thought Morgan was as good as Nolan was last night,” head coach David Pierce said. “He had the fastball going with some great angle. He threw both breaking balls for strikes. He was dominating today.”
With a strong one-two punch on Friday and Saturday, Pierce said he knows there is almost always a good probability of a ‘W.’
“You know you’ve got a chance to win,” Pierce said. “That’s the thing that’s wonderful about it. You just know you have a chance to win. They both went out there and did their job and rested the bullpen. We’ve got full bullets tomorrow.”
Texas opened the scoring in the second inning when freshman shortstop David Hamilton walked with the bases loaded. However, they failed to deliver with an opportunity for more runs by leaving the bases loaded, a theme that would continue throughout the day, including the very next inning.
In the fourth with runners on 1st and 3rd, sophomore left fielder Tate Shaw dropped a safety squeeze down in front of the mound. The Wildcat pitcher fielded the ball and airmailed the catcher from no more than 15 feet away. Freshman third baseman Ryan Reynolds scored and Texas had runners on 2nd and 3rd. Senior first baseman Kacy Clemens knocked in the first of his two RBIs on the day with a groundout that scored Hamilton. However, the Horns again left two on after the third out, 2-of-16 they left on bags for the day.
“It’s kind of chasing us right now,” Pierce said. “We left 16 runners on base. The entire day felt like it was a big deficit but it was actually a four-run game.”
The Horns scored once more in the 6th, when a Clemens double just missed going into the right field bullpen brought Shaw home for the 4-0 lead. They also once again left the bases loaded.
Texas added its fifth and final run in the 8th inning, when Reynolds added his own RBI single. Texas only left two runners on this time.
In the 9th inning, David Pierce sent sophomore Beau Ridgeway out to finish the game. He allowed one hit, but ended the game on a grounder to junior 2nd baseman Bret Boswell.
After the game, Cooper went through his outing.
“I felt pretty good there at the beginning,” Cooper said. “I kind of had a little, when I was walking a few guys, I lost my rhythm a little bit. Reynolds made a couple good plays to keep me in it. I lost my rhythm a little bit but I at least got it back to get me through the 8th.”
Though the game seemed to be all Texas, the 16 runners left on base and ending three innings with the bases loaded were troubling. However, Pierce mapped out the plan for his team to end their big situation struggles. “We’ve just got to keep getting pitches, build confidence and keep battling at home plate,” he said.
After 18 innings of shutout baseball, 17 of them from the starters, Cooper talked about what the mentality is for pitchers on the bump in the top of the first.
“We go out there and we’re just trying to do our thing,” Cooper said. “Hopefully throwing up zeros up there gets the whole team going and gets the hitters going a little bit. I’d like to think we boost them a lot.”
Texas goes for a Big 12 series sweep tomorrow with freshman Blair Henley going for his third win.