Texas wins pitching duel to hand UH its first loss of season
As far as the ballpark noise spectrum went, there were several extremes. One was the dull ping of the Cougars’ bats, which produced seven hits but only two runs. Another audible explosion was the burnt orange side of Minute Maid Park that erupted when No. 15 Longhorns handed the Cougars their first loss of the season and drowned out the sudden fury of scratching and clawing that UH was able to muster in the top of the ninth.
The last out, a line drive off second baseman Josh Vidales’ bat, was an inch too low to be a hit, but it was at just the right height to be pulled in by Texas sophomore shortstop C.J. Hinojosa, giving the Longhorns a 3-2 win at the Houston College Classic on Saturday.
“That’s baseball,” said UH head coach Todd Whitting. “You’ve got to be able to overcome the early errors, and we weren’t able to.”
Lost in the shuffle of sounds was the performance of sophomore righthander Jake Lemoine, who allowed only three hits, walked one and struck out six, all the while retiring the last 13 batters he faced.
“I thought Lemoine threw extremely well,” Whitting said. “I think he got a little rattled when we started kicking the ball around behind him, but I’m really proud of him. He regrouped, and there toward the end, he was as good as he was in the beginning.”
The UH offense, which put up a run in the second, an RBI single by senior outfielder Landon Appling, was held in check by Texas’ pitching for most of the night, save a last-ditch blitzkrieg of walks, singles and errors in the ninth.
UT starting pitcher Parker French, who went seven innings and struck out seven, gave way to relievers John Curtiss, a sophomore, and senior Nathan Thornhill.
“Texas has an outstanding ball club,” Whitting said. “French was outstanding tonight locating with his fastball. We could never settle in and get any swings off. He got really tough with runners in scoring position.”
Texas’ offense, which scattered four hits across nine innings, was fairly handcuffed by Lemoine’s pitching, something that the Cougars held pride in despite the loss.
“They’re pretty scary,” said UT head coach Augie Garrido, who was quick to praise the UH effort. “It was hard to feel comfortable because of the score. They battle. They have a good team. They’re in a good area for baseball, they have good coaches that work hard and they’ve got good players.”