This time, there would be no walk-off hit. No feeling of frustration after the game.
This time, when Texas played Texas State on Tuesday night, the Longhorns won — and handily too, 9-2.
When Texas lost to Texas State on March 21, it was the first time the Longhorns had ever lost at Bobcat Ballpark. But Tuesday’s game wasn’t in San Marcos; it was at UFCU Disch-Falk Field, where Texas is 18-7 this season and 40-10 all-time against Texas State.
Nick Kennedy got the start and immediately faced a jam: Top of the first. Bases loaded. No outs. And Texas State’s Theodore Hoffman, who’s hitting .378 batting with 11 home runs and 34 RBIs, at the plate. Uh-oh.
But on a pitch in the dirt, Derek Scheible tried to score from third. Texas catcher Michael McCann immediately grabbed the ball and tagged him out. Then Hoffman struck out a few pitches later. And then Kennedy escaped the inning two batters later.
Kennedy had opened the game with three straight singles and his arsenal wasn’t really working, especially his slider. But the sophomore left-hander’s change-up was.
“I think that’s what he realized and we were able to go to that pitch, and he’s been developing that pitch,” UT coach David Pierce said. “Having the availability of it made the difference because they’re a very good hitting team.”
Texas (23-13) didn’t waste its own chances in the first. The Longhorns loaded the bases twice. They scored four runs. And they sent 10 batters to the plate.
The Longhorns added another run in the fourth. Then Patrick Mathis stepped to the plate in the fifth.
Mathis hadn’t started a game since March 12 when he suffered a leg strain in his lower left leg.
“Go in there relaxed,” Mathis said he told himself when he went to bat. It had been nearly a month since he’d taken a swing in a game and he didn’t want to go after the first pitch he saw. “See the ball,” he said. “See the ball well. Get your pitch. You’re going to get your pitch.”
He got his pitch on a full count, with one out and Jake McKenzie on first. The ball cleared the 370-foot wall in left center, his third home run of the season.
“I honestly didn’t think it was going to go out because I checked the wind the inning before and it was blowing in,” Mathis said. “But I know I hit it pretty well.”
Mathis spent some of his time while battling the injury looking over tape of his swing from the first games of the season. He saw a batter who was trying to do too much. Someone who was tense. Not relaxed.
“So today I tried to really relax and see the ball well,” he said.
The seven runs were all the Horns needed, though they added two more in the eighth. Kennedy lasted 3 2/3 innings and then the bullpen came in — first Chase Shugart, then Connor Mayes, then Tyler Schimpf and finally Blair Henley. In that 11-10 loss to the Bobcats on March 21, the bullpen surrendered six runs.
This time, they gave up none.
There would be no ninth-inning comeback. No ninth-inning collapse.
There would be no loss.
Editor’s note: The original version of this story was updated to correct the score of the game.