On a night honoring him with a commemorative T-Shirt alluding to the Tony Award winning play bearing his last name, Texas shortstop David Hamilton’s performance at the end of the third act (of nine) served as the emotional turning point for the rest of the Longhorns’ game against Baylor.
Following a dismal two innings from junior starter Nolan Kingham, freshman reliever Matt Whelan was faced with a bases loaded situation with one out. The ensuing chopper from TJ Raguse looked to be headed for the outfield, but a magnificent play from Hamilton began a 6-4-3 double play that would provide Texas with much needed momentum they would ride to a 9-5 come-from-behind victory.
Kingham’s first two innings included a two-run home run given up to Richard Cunningham and two unearned runs that came due to a throwing error on Kingham. He would give up two hits in the third before being relieved by Whelan.
Whelan would walk one before fielding a comebacker, but he was only able to get a single out at the plate on the play. That set the stage for Hamilton’s defensive gem.
“I couldn’t tell you, honestly,” Hamilton said when asked to explain the play of the game. “It went up, I jumped for it, and I flipped it to Kody Clemens.”
Texas head coach David Pearce was not as short for words as Hamilton was when explaining what he saw from the dugout.
“The guy’s the best in the country,” Pierce said. “Just staying with that ball, great flip with no panic, and then Kody finished it.”
Pierce was asked if he had ever had a shortstop play the field as well as Hamilton. The name that came to his mind was one of his stars at Rice in nine year MLB veteran Paul Janish. Janish had a .983 fielding percentage in the majors. In his season and a half at Texas, Hamilton’s mark sits at .974.
Despite bringing up Janish, Pierce would bring the conversation back to his current shortstop. “David, as far as the electricity he presents on the field, is about second to none,” Pierce said.
The double play not only ended a Baylor rally, but got the crowd energized and gave the Longhorns some momentum heading into the bottom of the third. That momentum translated into runs as junior catcher DJ Petrinsky added his third home run of the year in the bottom half to cut the Bear lead to 4-2.
Texas remained on the rise and carried that into the fifth where they would put up four runs and take control of the game from Baylor and starter Hayden Kettler. With two on, junior centerfielder Tate Shaw tripled to bring home two and tie the game. Junior left fielder Masen Hibbeler’s sacrifice fly gave Texas the lead, and sophomore third baseman Ryan Reynolds two out single gave Texas a lead they would not relinquish.
Not only did the bats and defense pick up Kingham following his poor start, but the bullpen did as well. Whelan, junior Parker Joe Robinson, junior Josh Sawyer, and freshman Bryce Elder combined for seven innings, five hits, one earned run, two walks and a strikeout to close out the game. Robinson earned his second win of the week, while Elder notched his first career save.
“About as bad of a start as you could have at home,” Pierce said. “For our guys to just continue to have great at bats and continue to play, a great bullpen for the night, what do you say? They’re starting to show that resiliency. They really are playing for each other and it’s fun to watch.”
His defense started the opportunity for the offense, and Hamilton’s words describing the bats were as crisp as his defensive play.
“We’re all good hitters,” Hamilton said. “Teams better watch out.”
Texas goes for the series win against Baylor tomorrow at 4 p.m