Longhorns fall to walk-off home run in extra innings, lose to Houston 3-2

Vicente Montalvo

Head coach David Pierce showed his trust in true freshman pitcher Aaron Nixon in the ninth inning of Saturday’s game against Houston. 

In a 2-2 tie ballgame, Nixon looked every bit like a seasoned reliever, striking out five batters and only giving up two hits in his first two innings on the mound.

But after the Longhorns left two runners stranded on base during the top of the 11th inning, the Cougars put the game away when senior Tyler Bielamowicz homered off of Nixon’s breaking ball, lifting Houston to a 3-2 victory and tying the series 1–1. 

Game two of the three-game series against Houston brought a lot of the same qualities from Friday night’s game, featuring stellar pitching and great defensive play, with one big difference: extra innings.

In an 11-inning contest, the Longhorns’ first extra innings game of the season, missed opportunities allowed Houston to stick around and ultimately win the game. Texas failed to capitalize on prime scoring chances, as the team left 12 runners stranded on base and tallied nine hits on the day. 

Redshirt junior pitcher Tristan Stevens got the start for the Longhorns, and in the second inning, Stevens struggled with his control, walking two batters into a bases-loaded situation. 

But the Longhorns avoided what could have been a disastrous start to the game, closing the inning with a force out at second base and only allowing one run off of a single to center field. After that sticky situation, Stevens calmed down on the mound and only allowed three hits and pitched an efficient 89 pitches in five and two-thirds innings.

The Texas batters began to find their rhythm in the fifth inning as redshirt sophomore outfielder Eric Kennedy opened with a double to right field. 

Redshirt freshman outfielder Douglas Hodo III shortly followed with a single hit to shortstop, advancing Kennedy to third base and giving the Longhorns their first real opportunity to put points on the board. Then redshirt senior outfielder Austin Todd stepped up big as he singled to center field, bringing home the runner and tying the ball game at 1-1. 

In the sixth inning, redshirt freshman infielder Trey Faltine followed Kennedy’s double in the fifth inning with one of his own. A wild pitch advanced Faltine to third, when Kennedy finished what he started in the fifth inning and brought Faltine home with a beautifully played single bunt, giving the Longhorns their first lead of the game at 2-1.

However, Texas wouldn’t hold onto the lead for long. After Stevens allowed a double to center field, Pierce went to his bullpen for redshirt senior pitcher Palmer Wenzel. But Wenzel’s first pitch was hammered for a triple, bringing in the runner from second. 

The Longhorns and Cougars both successfully got runners on base in the ninth inning, but could not advance them for a winning run. With Houston starter Ben Sears off the mound, the Cougars' relief pitching outmatched the Longhorn batters, striking out seven Texas hitters and only allowing two hits in the final five and two-thirds innings.

The Longhorns are now 6–5 on the season and will look to bounce back Sunday afternoon for their final outing against Houston in a series-deciding game.