Freshman phenoms shine in Texas’ 5-2 victory at Texas State

Evan Vieth, Senior Sports Reporter

For many that grow up playing baseball, getting the chance to start for your favorite childhood team is a dream that many never get to achieve. For Texas freshman pitcher Kobe Minchey, dreams turned into reality on Tuesday night.

Just under a week after making his collegiate baseball debut against Air Force, Minchey started his first game for the team he grew up just 40 minutes away from. The Jarrell product pitched the first three innings of the Longhorns 5-2 victory against Texas State on Monday and impressed with his dipping changeup and fastball combo. 

Minchey allowed three hits while striking out four and giving up zero runs to a Texas State team that took a game from the Longhorns in last year’s home-and-home series. Thirteen months later, a freshman phenom shut them down. 

Kobe Minchey may not be a familiar name for some of the most committed Longhorn fans since the right-hander was far from a top recruit coming into the 2023 season. Unlike big name prospects like freshman corner infielders Jared Thomas and Jalin Flores, Minchey ranked 656th in the state of Texas, according to Perfect Game. 

The freshman spent his high school life homeschooled, playing baseball for the Waco Wind in a freelance league. Though his 67 strikeouts and .84 ERA jumped off the page for potential recruiters, the lack of a high-power pitch and constant competition left very few offers on the table for Minchey. Though he originally was committed to play for Blinn College, new pitching coach Woody Williams made him an offer he couldn’t refuse: a chance to play at Texas.

Minchey was the first recruit to sign after Williams’ hire last July, and despite a late commitment, it’s obvious he’s earned the respect of the entire coaching staff. The starter has elevated his fastball from around 87 mph as a senior in high school to hitting 93 in today’s game. The ceiling looks to be endless for Monday’s starter.

Alongside Minchey’s surprising and successful start, the Longhorn bullpen continued to alleviate any chances the Bobcats created. Junior right-hander Heston Tole allowed just two base runners in his three innings of pitching, junior left-hander Chris Stuart added nearly two innings of work and redshirt junior Zane Morehouse closed the door after a rough initial two RBI triple that was credited to Stuart because of inherited runners. The staff combined for 11 strikeouts, six hits and two runs allowed throughout the night.

Minchey wasn’t the only freshman to make an impact on Monday. Thomas got his first start as the leadoff hitter as a result of senior center fielder Eric Kennedy’s ejection on Sunday, getting on base twice and hitting .400 with three walks and two extra-base hits in his last three games, starting on Saturday against Kansas State. Monday’s game was the first time Kennedy hadn’t led off all season. Flores also impacted the game off the bench, hitting a two-RBI single in the 8th inning after pinch-hitting for sophomore right fielder Ace Whitehead and knocking in freshman pinch runner Jayden Duplantier.

Despite the result, Texas was greeted by a ferocious and passionate Texas State crowd that lasted all nine innings. After playing four straight games at home, the Longhorns traveled just 30 minutes to witness the passion of the Bobcat faithful, who even lined up in the softball stadium to cheer on their team. The 3,425-person crowd set a new record for Texas State baseball attendance, proving just how much the schools love the Bobcat-Longhorn matchup.

Texas will play the Bobcats again on Tuesday night, this time as hosts of the home-and-home series at UFCU Disch-Falk Field. The Longhorns will look to avenge last year’s nail-biting home loss and pick up another victory against the team from down I-35.