Longhorns beat Jayhawks in defensive battle, end two-game skid

Amsal Madhani

After dropping two straight games, Texas bounced back with a tremendous day fielding to end the skid and win 5-2 against Kansas Thursday night.

It was a close game the entire way at Hoglund Ballpark in Lawrence, Kansas, as both teams held their own on the fielding side, but Texas started pulling away in the top of the fifth inning. Longhorn redshirt sophomore outfielder Eric Kennedy scored after a double from freshman infielder Mitchell Daly to put Texas ahead of Kansas 2-1. 

The Jayhawks had a chance to tie or even retake the lead late in the bottom of the seventh inning, but redshirt senior Mike Antico had a different outcome in mind. He made a huge double play in the seventh inning to prevent the Jayhawks from garnering any momentum to come back in the game.

Redshirt freshman infielder Trey Faltine followed that big play with another, as he leaped up high in the air and caught a ball to retire the Jayhawks in the seventh inning. 

The Jayhawks tried to make one final run in the bottom of the ninth inning, scoring one run and advancing the tying run to the plate with runners on second and third. But freshman pitcher Aaron Nixon quickly recovered and crushed their hopes, striking out Kansas redshirt senior infielder James Cosentino to retire the Jayhawks. 

Although redshirt sophomore pitcher Ty Madden wasn’t playing his best ball, he did enough to lead the Longhorns to victory as he allowed just seven hits and one unearned run. 

Texas head coach David Pierce was impressed with Madden’s composure Thursday night. 

“On the road, there are a lot of people in the stands that are just all in his grill the entire game, and he just blocked it out,” Pierce said in a postgame interview on ESPN+. “He and (redshirt freshman catcher Silas Ardoin) are just so good together. He trusts Silas, and Silas trusts him.”

Ardoin also had some huge plays of his own, as he caught two Jayhawk batters stealing, including one in the fifth inning to hold onto the Longhorns’ 2-1 lead. He led the way fielding for Texas, ending the night with six putouts and two assists. 

The Longhorns’ batting group also picked it up after being held scoreless against Texas A&M Tuesday night. 

Redshirt junior infielder Zach Zubia led a tremendous eighth inning, hitting a triple that led to a score from Daly. Zubia then scored after a single through the right side from redshirt junior infielder Cam Williams.

Texas was ultimately led at the plate by Daly, who hit the key double in the fifth inning to give the Longhorns a 2-1 lead on the Jayhawks. He also hit singles in both the eighth and ninth innings to put his stamp on the game. 

“Mitch (Daly) did a great job,” Pierce said. “His barrel was in the zone, he sees the ball well, he’s really locked in right now, and he was big tonight.”

Daly and the rest of the Longhorns look to continue to build on this momentum, as they play the second game of their series against the Jayhawks Friday night.