Eighth inning rally helps Texas defeat Kansas State 6-5

JT Bowen, General Sports Reporter

It wasn’t pretty, but a five-run eighth inning ultimately helped the Longhorns come back to steal a win from Kansas State on Friday night in the first contest of their three-game series.

Lucas Gordon worked through a rocky first two innings on the mound to help Texas pull out the victory. The junior leftie wasn’t himself the first inning, walking one Wildcat and hitting another to put runners at second and third, but he escaped the inning without ceding a run.

The Longhorns opened the scoring in the bottom of the first, taking the lead on an RBI-single from redshirt junior outfielder Porter Brown who rifled a hit into right field that drove junior right fielder Dylan Campbell home.

Gordon’s second inning was even uglier, though, hitting another Kansas State batter and walking the next Wildcat to load the bases. He walked the next batter to give the Wildcats the tie and hit his third batter in two innings to give Kansas State a 2-1 lead.

“I just thought it was going to be one of those nights where we’re gonna have to go to the (bull)pen early,” head coach David Pierce said of Gordon’s start. “I asked him in the dugout and said, ‘You okay?’ and (Gordon) goes ‘Coach I have it. I got it.’”

Gordon found his groove as the night went on, tossing four scoreless innings in the rest of his action. He combined for nine strikeouts and just one hit in those frames, keeping the Wildcats at bay, but the Longhorns inability to find any offense kept the game at 2-1 in Kansas State’s favor by the end of the sixth inning.

Pierce turned to redshirt sophomore Andre Duplantier II in the top of the seventh to relieve Gordon, and he similarly got off to a rough start. The right-handed pitcher walked a pair of batters before overthrowing freshman Jared Thomas at first base on a sacrifice bunt, allowing Kansas State to increase its lead to 3-1. 

Redshirt sophomore Chase Lummus replaced Duplantier II with runners at second and third and no outs. The Wildcats punched in two more runs on a sacrifice bunt, making it a 5-1 game. 

However, the Longhorns’ bats came alive in the bottom of the eighth after a hitless inning by Lummus. At the top of the order, after a bunt by Eric Kennedy, redshirt senior center fielder, the Longhorns rattled off three doubles and a triple in four at-bats to tie the game at 5-5, all taking place in a matter of minutes.

With no outs and a runner on third base, the Longhorns erased the Wildcats’ lead, and retook it on a sacrifice fly into right field by senior pinch hitter Tanner Carlson to drive in Porter Brown, putting the Longhorns up 6-5.

“That was an emotional game,” said Campbell, who hit the first of the three consecutive doubles that kickstarted Texas’ comeback. “I don’t think anyone expected that, but that’s just who we are. We’re never out of the game as long as we got one out to play with.”

Redshirt junior Zane Morehouse took the mound to close the game for Texas, a role he’s found success in since being moved out of the starting rotation. He iced it for the Longhorns, taking credit for his fifth save of the year.

“For him to be in that role, you’ve gotta have thick skin,” Pierce said of Morehouse’s performance. “It’s a tough role. Toughest outs are the first three and the last three, and it was great to see him just come back and attack the zone.”

Lummus was credited with the first win of his career after his hitless eighth inning teed up Texas’ offense to storm back.

“I don’t think we’re ever out of it until the game is over,” Lummus said. “We always know we have a chance. It was a 4-run game, but that’s not much for us. It was great to pull out a win.”

Texas raises to 22–9 on the season and 5–2 in conference play and will look to clinch the series Saturday at Disch-Falk Field.