After Nolan Kingham and Morgan Cooper supplied a 1-2 punch, Texas will go for the knockout on Sunday.
Cooper turned in a career-high 11 strikeouts in a 5-0 win over Kansas State on Saturday. One day after it beat Kansas State for its first Big 12 win, Texas improved to 2-3 against conference opponents. On Sunday, Texas (16-10, 2-3 Big 12) will go for its first series sweep of a Big 12 team since it defeated Kansas State three times in 2015.
Cooper entered this weekend not having allowed more than two runs in any of his 2017 starts, and that statistic wasn’t challenged at UFCU Disch-Falk Field. The junior right-hander struck out the first four batters he faced, and four of the final five Wildcats he met were strikeout victims. A Kansas State team hitting .290 mustered two hits and four walks against Cooper, who threw 111 pitches over eight innings.
On the mound, Cooper provided a sequel to Kingham’s performance Friday. In a 2-0 complete-game win, Kingham allowed just four hits.
“Yesterday after the game, I was joking with him; I said, ‘You’re going to make me back that up?’ ” Cooper said.
The ERAs for Cooper (3-1) and Kingham (3-2) are now sitting at 1.63 and 0.72. Because of the 17 innings thrown against Kansas State by those two, Beau Ridgeway has been the only reliever used by Texas this weekend.
“That’s the thing that’s wonderful about it: You just know you have a chance to win” with Kingham and Cooper, Texas coach David Pierce said. “They both went out there and did their job and rested the bullpen. We have full bullets tomorrow.”
Texas stranded seven runners in scoring position Friday, and it faced some of the same problems a day later. UT left the bases loaded in the second, third and sixth innings. Tate Shaw, Kody Clemens and Ryan Reynolds were also standing on third base when the fourth, fifth and seventh frames ended.
Offensively, though, Texas had a better day at the plate than Kansas State (15-8, 0-2).
Shortstop David Hamilton drew a bases-loaded walk in the second inning, and he scored on Kacy Clemens’ groundout in the fourth. Those two runs sandwiched Reynolds’ fourth-inning score from third base after Kansas State misplayed Shaw’s squeeze bunt.
Kacy Clemens and Reynolds later contributed run-scoring hits to right field to push the score to 5-0.
Rounding the bases: Texas last shut out Big 12 teams in back-to-back games during the 2010 season. That year, UT recorded 5-0 and 2-0 wins at Oklahoma. … For the first time this season, Texas used the same batting order in a third straight game. … Landon Leach, a right-handed member of Texas’ 2017 recruiting class, pitched against the Toronto Blue Jays in a spring training game Saturday. Playing for Canada’s junior national team, Leach surrendered five hits and four runs over two innings. Toronto recorded a 16-0 win. … Texas freshman Blair Henley (2-2, 4.38 ERA) will oppose Kansas State sophomore Brogan Heinen (1-1, 3.96) on Sunday afternoon.