University of Texas head coach Augie Garrido probably couldn’t have drawn up a better script for game one of the Austin Super Regional, a game his squad won 4-2. The Longhorn offense wasted no time jumping on Houston starting pitcher Jake Lemoine.
With Ben Johnson on first base with one out in the first inning, Mark Payton cranked a two-run homer into the bullpen beyond right field to give UT a 2-0 lead. With that hit, Payton extended his streak of reaching base to 100 games.
But they didn’t stop there. In the fourth inning, they got a run when Madison Carter scored on a throwing error. Josh Vidales was trying to complete a double play and his throw pulled Grayson off the bag. And in the fifth inning, Tres Barrera singled home Ben Johnson to push the lead to 4-0. Lemoine would pitch to just one more batter in the inning before being lifted.
The Cougars had one rally to speak of during the course of the game and it came in the bottom of the fifth. Justin Montemayor singled to lead off and Connor Hollis followed with a single of his own. Josh Vidales singled into right, scoring Montemayor to make it 4-1. Then, Caleb Barker hit into a 1-6-3 double play, scoring a second UH run, but effectively ending the rally.
All told, UT starter Nathan Thornhill was outstanding. He threw seven innings, giving up seven hits and two runs. Other than that fifth inning, he was never really in any trouble and he needed just 91 pitches to get through his outing. John Curtiss was almost perfect in relief. He threw two scoreless innings, giving up just one hit.
“Three pitches for a strike, anywhere he wanted it. When you get a guy going against you who can throw all three pitches for a strike in any count that he wants, makes it tough on your hitters. I’m not going to be too hard on my hitters because we got pitched to a little bit today. He was outstanding. He didn’t give us a whole lot of room for error and I thought he pitched well against us.” said Houston head coach Todd Whitting.
“We had plenty of opportunities to drive in a couple of runs and also make a couple of defensive plays and we just didn’t do it. Those are opportunities that we’ve taken advantage of all year, and it just didn’t happen for us today.” added Whitting.
To the surprise of no one, Mark Payton was the offensive star for the Longhorns. He had three hits on the day, including the two-run homer.
Houston starter Jake Lemoine just never got going. He ended up throwing just 4.2 innings, giving up seven hits and four runs. The Cougar bullpen was able to keep the game close however. Bubba Maxwell and Tyler Ford combined to throw 4.1 innings of scoreless baseball, giving up just three hits along the way.
Vidales was just about the only bright spot on offense for UH. He had three hits and the only RBI.
The series resumes Saturday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. on ESPN.