It didn’t look good for Texas after 2.5 innings, but then the Longhorns came back to take a one run lead in the third and extend that lead to three runs in the fourth. It didn’t look good for Texas after 6.5 innings following three straight multi-run frames by the Texas State Bobcats. It didn’t look good for Texas heading into the ninth trailing by four, but then the Longhorns scored one run and had the bases loaded with nobody out. Then David Hamilton came to the plate.
With a full count, the sophomore shortstop sent a fastball over the right field fence to give Texas a come-from-behind 11-10 victory on Tuesday night.
“I’m still in shock, honestly,” Hamilton said after the game. “I didn’t know it was going to go out. I’m still in shock.”
Everyone at UFCU Disch-Falk Stadium was in shock as well. Texas trailed by varying margins at several different points during the game, and the bats did little to give hope toward a comeback in innings five through eight. But that’s why they play nine.
Hamilton’s opportunity was set up by Bobcat reliever Brayden Theriot’s inability to find the plate. He walked junior Masen Hibbeler to start the inning then followed that up with another walk to sophomore Duke Ellis. Junior Kody Clemens notched his second hit of the game and scored Hibbeler, who was originally held up by third base coach Sean Allen. The Texas State right-fielder mishandled the ball, and Hibbeler scurried home to make it a three run game.
Theriot’s control problems continued with freshman Zach Zubia, and his walk loaded the bases for Hamilton.
After the game, Hamilton said he knew he was going to see mostly fastballs because of the situation and because of Theriot’s control issues. With that in mind, he was looking for one pitch.
That pitch wasn’t the first of the at bat, a ball. Or the second, a foul ball. Or pitches three, four, and five: ball, ball, and a strike. Hamilton gave an effort on the sixth pitch and the resulting contact almost became an out. He popped it up to the right of the third base dugout, and though Bobcat fielders were tracking it, the ball sailed into the sanctuary of the seats.
“I was scared,” Hamilton replied when asked about it after the game.
The next pitch was a fastball, and it was the pitch Hamilton sent to Comal St.
“I knew he was pretty much going to throw all fastballs because he walked the three batters before,” Hamilton said. “I was sitting on it, and missed the pitch or two before that. I was just sitting on it.”
As Hamilton made his way around the bases, the dugout erupted. Dish-Falk Field erupted. He was mobbed at home plate, and before he could get away the buttons on his jersey were ripped apart by his teammates.
Despite making solid contact with the ball, Hamilton said postgame he didn’t know it would be good enough for Texas second walk-off home run of the year. He would have preferred to know, however, to add a little more style to it.
“I was kind of hoping,” Hamilton said. “I wanted to pimp it so bad.”
The grand-slam capped off Hamilton’s 2-for-4 night, but it also helped put an out-of-character fielding performance behind him. It began in the first when he struggled to get the ball out of his glove when turning a double play, resulting in just one out.
It continued that same inning when his sixth error of the season allowed Texas State to push one across for an early lead. That led to Hamilton changing gloves, and receiving a friendly rib from a teammate. “Ryan [Reynolds] always jokes with me and says whenever I make an error, I hit good,” Hamilton said. That held true tonight.
After being mobbed by his teammates, Hamilton and Ellis did backflips near home plate prior to the Eyes of Texas. After the alma mater, Hamilton went to do an interview with Longhorn Network. He avoided the first shaving cream assault from junior Nolan Kingham, and mostly got away from the second sneak attack from junior Chase Shugart during his interview.
“I don’t really like the shaving cream,” Hamilton said. “It got all up in my face.”
After avoiding the first two attacks, Kingham and Zubia got him with classic Gatorade bath, and sent Texas into an important weekend at No. 9 Texas Tech feeling much better than if the Longhorns would have dropped their first midweek game at Disch-Falk this season.
“We’ve got a tough weekend ahead of us with Texas Tech,” Hamilton said with a smile. “Hopefully we’ll be alright.”