The Longhorns began conference play with a win Friday, as they topped Kansas State 3-0 at Disch-Falk Field. Taylor Jungmann pitched eight innings for his fifth win of the season and Corey Knebel picked up his fifth save.
“The first part of the [conference] season’s always the most exciting and the most competitive,” said Texas head coach Augie Garrido. “Everybody’s got high hopes and a lot of confidence, and nobody’s buried yet, so nobody’s given up yet.”
Texas (13-5) got on the board quickly in the first inning, after loading the bases with two singles and a walk. Jacob Felts hit a single over the head of Wildcat shortstop Tanner Witt, which scored Cohl Walla and Erich Weiss. Felts finished 1-for-4 and two RBIs in the first conference game of his career.
“It’s a real relief to get that one out of the way,” he said. “Hopefully we can take that momentum into tomorrow and finish with the sweep on Sunday.”
Jungmann started off strong against the Wildcats, and finished the game with four strikeouts. There were eight left-handed hitters in Kansas State’s lineup, so Jungmann tried to set them up with fastballs inside, followed by his changeup on the outside.
“I felt like it was working early, and then they kind of reading that game plan, so I had to start throwing in some breaking balls,” he said.
Jungmann got into trouble in the seventh inning, when there were Wildcats on the corners with one out. But Jungmann got Witt to pop up to Felts, who ran behind home plate and caught the ball coming out of the lights.
“He made that look pretty easy at a very important time,” Garrido said. “For him to come in and perform at the level he’s performed at is really reassuring, and really enriched the pitching staff.”
The Longhorns loaded the bases again in their half of the seventh, and Mark Payton brought the final run home with a sac fly to center field. It was a big hit for Payton, who has seen his average dip to .254 after beginning the season on a hot streak.
“It’s a team sport, and I’d rather go 0-3 and win the game than go 3-3 and win the game,” Payton said. “Somebody else is going to pick you up every day. The past couple games people have picked me up. Sooner or later, it’ll bounce back.”
Freshman Corey Knebel came in to close the ninth inning, setting the Wildcats down in order and lowering his ERA to 1.62 on the season.