Opportunistic hitting, bullpen help Texas past No. 25 SHSU, 3-2

Left field at the Disch (Joe Cook/IT)

Left field at the Disch (Joe Cook/IT)

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After losing five straight games, Texas has almost gotten all those games back.

A 3-2 win over No. 25 Sam Houston State on Tuesday was a one that continued the much needed winning streak for the Longhorns. After trailing 1-0 early, Texas worked its way back into the game and took the lead in the fourth. The Longhorns held the lead after a three pitcher relief effort, with Matteo Bocchi earning the win and Nolan Kingham earning his second save.

“Five straight is tough,” Texas head coach David Pierce said. “But to play with the passion I’m seeing us play with and the good intensity and playing the game the right way is great. The wins are going to follow that. We appreciate the wins for sure.”

Sam Houston State threatened in each of the first three innings against starter Nico O’Donnell, but was only able to plate one run from those three threats.

Over the next six innings, Texas gave up just three hits and one run. Bocchi pitched 1.1 innings, striking out three, walking one, and hitting one.

The Bearkats almost plated another in the fourth inning after a throwing error from shortstop Masen Hibbeler. Bocchi was able to pitch around it and set the Longhorns up for their go-ahead rally in the bottom half of the inning.

Austin Todd lead off the inning with a double, and Ryan Reynolds’ double the very next at-bat tied the game at one. A few batters later, Hibbeler made up for his error when his two-out single brought in the go ahead run.

“I was pretty fired up about because I normally don’t make mistakes like that in the field,” Hibbeler said. “So I was fired up and had to pick my team up. That’s what I did. I went up to the plate, stuck to my approach, and did what I did at the plate.”

Bryce Elder replaced Bocchi with a runner in scoring position in the fifth, but retired the next two hitters to escape the jam. Elder was able to put together an outing far better than those in his most recent stretch.

“Elder and Coach (Phil) Haig have just been back in the lab working on filling his release point,” Pierce said. “He had back-to-back poor outings and then came out tonight when we needed him. He’s not afraid to work and he believes in himself. He just had a couple of bad outings. I really liked what he did tonight.”

Texas added another run in the fifth on a throwing error by the Bearkat shortstop. Kody Clemens advanced from second to third on a tailor made double play ball, but the shortstop sailed the throw to first allowing Clemens to score Texas’ third run.

Elder gave up one run in the eighth, but his defense behind him made sure SHSU couldn’t put a crooked number on the scoreboard. With nobody out, a Bearkat double went off the left-center field wall. Tate Shaw grabbed the ball, threw to Kody Clemens, who threw to DJ Petrinsky at the plate. Petrinsky made a good scoop to get the ball and apply the tag, preventing the run.

A run would score a few batters later, but the defensive play made sure Texas maintained its one run lead heading into the ninth.

Nolan Kingham worked a 123 ninth to secure Texas’ fourth straight win heading into a weekend series against Oklahoma State.

“We pieced the bullpen together,” Pierce said. “I thought Matteo Bocchi filled a bridge there and I thought Elder was really good. Then Nolan with the close was outstanding. A couple of defensive plays were the difference as well. Sam Houston State is a quality team and it was a quality RPI win.”

The quality RPI win is big for Texas as their winning streak continues with another Big 12 opponent coming into town.

“We knew we had to keep the momentum going into another conference series this weekend,” Hibbeler said. “We knew we couldn’t take them lightly and we just came out, did what we did and came away with the win.”