O’Donnell shuts down UTSA in 2-0 win

Travis Hlavinka

After exploding for 11 runs in the final game of this past weekend’s series against LSU, Texas failed to match that offensive output in Tuesday night’s game against UTSA at UFCU Disch-Falk Field. The Longhorns scored two runs on eight hits and were never able to string together anything or develop momentum.

But on this particular night, it was just enough for a 2-0 Texas victory. 

The Longhorns’ pitching staff and defense made up for the lack of firepower by allowing no runs on only one hit, and let up just one error. Performances such as these are seldom, where a team can only score two runs yet feel it still controlled the game from start to finish. Texas head coach David Pierce said it wasn’t exactly what he was hoping for, but by no means was he disappointed.

“Coming off an emotional weekend on the road in a hostile environment and coming back home and starting a homestand, we felt it was really important to get this first one,” Pierce said. “We scored enough, had solid pitching and, for the most part, played solid defense.”

Texas’ starting pitcher, freshman Nico O’Donnell, did the majority of the damage for Texas. He went 5.1 innings and allowed UTSA’s only hit of the ball game during that stretch. This outing, his second of the season and his career, was vastly better than his first game, when he dealt with 40-degree temperatures and rain.

“The preparation was really good coming into this game,” O’Donnell said. “Just with warming up and throwing in right field. The weather was a lot better (than my last start). It was supposed to be raining today, so I was not too excited about that. But when it turned out to be this nice, everything just cleared up in my mind, and I was focused on pitching.”

The young freshman did not overlook how vital a good outing was for this midweek matchup. O’Donnell said that in a game as close as Tuesday’s was, any small mistake could have been the difference between a win and a loss for Texas.

“I think this win was pretty strong just because we threw zero and we only got two,” O’Donnell said. “So, I mean, it could’ve gone a lot differently if I did something differently.”

Redshirt sophomore Bryce Verplank and junior Beau Ridgeway were dominant in relief. Normally a Friday starter, junior pitcher Nolan Kingham struggled to find his groove in the ninth inning, which he was tasked to close. Kingham walked his first batter, but he was then aided by a beautiful 6-4-3 double play. Kingham proceeded to strike out the game’s final batter.

Offensively, the Longhorns struck out as many times as they tallied a hit. It was a stark contrast from the performances in the other facets of the game.

“I thought we hit some balls hard that didn’t find holes,” Pierce said. “I was disappointed in the strikeouts tonight. We’ve been doing a better job at that. You know, it’s just one of
those games.”

Texas welcomes the Northwestern Wildcats to Austin this weekend for a four-game series, which includes a doubleheader on Saturday. First pitch for Friday’s game at UFCU Disch-Falk Field is scheduled for 7 p.m.