In what may very well be his final home outing of his Longhorn career, junior starting pitcher Nolan Kingham pulled Texas one game closer to the top spot in the Big 12.
On Thursday night, Kingham was given the ball to start the game, but also ended up finishing it. Kingham dominated the Horned Frogs in a complete game performance, only allowing two earned runs on six hits and issued a mere one walk over the course of nine innings en route to a 3-2 victory over TCU.
“I thought (Kingham) was unbelievable in the way he attacked,” head coach David Pierce said. “He attacked all night, walked one guy. But he had that bit in his mouth. He wanted the ball all night and he was making quality, quality pitches. But he attacked (TCU). And once we get into that mode of attacking hitters, allowing our defense to work because they’re really good, then good things happen for us.”
Kingham made it known that he was “back.” After showing moments throughout the season of the dominant pitcher he has proved himself to be, he hadn’t been able to piece together a dominant start since his first performance of 2018. If there is a time to find that magic, however, it couldn’t be any more perfect for the Longhorns than right now.
“(Kingham’s) statement to me after the game was, ‘Alright Coach, now I’m back,’” Pierce said. “And I’m like, ‘Alright, well we're just getting started.’ So perfect timing. We’re in a great position. Now let’s move forward.”
Although Kingham said he knew by the seventh inning that he was going the distance, Pierce knew all along that that was his plan, he just needed Kingham to want it bad enough before he gave the go-ahead.
“I think (Pierce) was testing me a little bit,” Kingham said. “He came up to me and was like, ‘Hey we’re going to (redshirt junior closer Andy) McGuire, good job,’ and stuck his hand out. And I said, ‘Coach, with all due respect, this is my game. I want the ball.’ And he goes, ‘Alright, that’s what I wanted to hear. Get after them.’ And that was that.”
Something seemed different about Kingham right from the very first pitch. Something the Texas faithful hadn’t seen in a while. It turns out it took something a little unconventional to bring Kingham’s mojo back.
“(Kingham) actually went back to last year’s cleats, his last year come-out song, and he was like, ‘I’m coming back,” junior outfielder Masen Hibbeler said. “And that’s exactly what he did tonight and it was fun to see.”
Hibbeler provided a spark of his own as his two RBI were the majority of Texas’ runs on the night. One of which came on a monster solo shot to left field.
Texas’ latest victory comes at arguably the most pivotal moment of the season. Before game one, the Longhorns sat just two games behind the top spot in the Big 12. That number dwindled down to one after their victory and Oklahoma State’s 9-4 loss to Texas Tech Thursday night. The Cowboys, who still hold first place, and Texas both have two games remaining in the regular season with only one game separating the two.
The Longhorns continue their quest for the best record in the conference as they take on TCU again on Friday night at UFCU Disch-Falk Field. First pitch is slated for 6:30 p.m.