Texas looked to take the series from the University of New Orleans on a dreary day with the wind blowing in. Although the weather was bleak, the Horns got a bright performance on the mound from junior Morgan Cooper. Cooper’s fast start and Texas’ first inning rally were enough for Texas to defeat the Privateers, 3-2, and take the series.
Texas scored their only runs of the game in the first inning before Privateer starter Bryan Warzek had a chance to settle into a rhythm on the mound. The Horns loaded the bases with one out and freshman third baseman Ryan Reynolds at the plate. Reynolds squeaked the ball past a diving third baseman and Texas’ first two runs came in to score to start the Longhorns off.
The Horns would only add one more in the opening frame when freshman designated hitter Austin Todd popped a ball foul down the right field line. New Orleans second baseman Samuel Capielano made a good play at the wall to retire Todd, but senior first baseman Kacy Clemens tagged up and scored from third to cap the Texas scoring early in the day.
On the mound, Texas got another solid start from junior Morgan Cooper who began the game perfect through 3.1 innings. UNO would spoil his perfect game bid with a single from Privateer shortstop Aaron Palmer, who would come around to score later in the fourth. Cooper earned the victory over six innings, allowing five hits, one earned run and one walk, striking out seven.
Cooper was relieved by freshman Blair Henley, who was charged with one hit, one earned run, two walks and one strikeout over 1.1 innings. Though Henley was charged with the earned run, it came when sophomore Beau Ridgeway was on the mound. Ridgeway gave up a sacrifice fly shortly after entering the game that cut the Longhorn lead to one. He would recover and proceed to close out the ninth inning to earn his ninth save.
Quotes via UT
Texas head coach David Pierce
On today’s win: We got three runs early, we had a big hit by Ryan Reynolds, we had some great atbats in front of him, and we were able to play great defense and pitch. That was the formula today.
On junior pitcher Morgan Cooper’s performance: He was good. We made a commitment we were going to keep all of them below 90 pitches this weekend, and he gave us six innings on 85 pitches, so it was a very solid outing for Morgan.
On Kody Clemens’ first game this season playing in the field: I just think that [Bret] Boswell needed a little mental break, and Kody has been getting close to being ready. He’s ready to play defense and he hits against left-handers as well as anybody we have, so it was a good combination to get Austin Todd in the game by putting Kody at second base.
On Beau Ridgeway’s performance in tight situations: I had a lot of trust in him. I didn’t lose any, but I didn’t like seeing him hit the lead-off guy in the ninth. But what he does is he keeps going at you, and he continued to do that. He got ground balls to end the game.
Texas junior pitcher Morgan Cooper
On winning the game by one run: It feels good. We’ve struggled in one-run games, but it was good to win one. I think we felt, as a whole, that we probably could have taken advantages of some opportunities to put some more runs on the board, but it was good to win.
On what was working for him early in the game: They were aggressive. They were putting the balls in play, which is why I think we were able to get quick outs there at the beginning. Then they started squaring it up a little bit, making me work. They were aggressive, and if it was over the plate, they were going to hit it. I think in the later innings when I was throwing, they were just finding holes and putting good swings on it.
On if pitch counts change his approach: No, I didn’t actually. I asked them when I came out, “Why didn’t you tell me that before?” They said, “Well, we figured it would have affected how you pitched,” and they were probably right. It’s probably better they didn’t let me know. When I went out for the sixth, they told me I’d be out there no matter what. I didn’t know. I guess it’s good to know now I guess.