If the No. 25 Longhorns (11-8, 3-0 Big 12) want to continue their six-game winning streak by taking the first of a three-game set at Kansas State Friday, they’d better hope Nathan Thornhill can find a cure for his first inning woes.
Thornhill, who is 2-1 with a 3.21 ERA, has been woefully consistent in five first innings this season. The right-hander has yielded eight runs (all earned) on nine hits and five walks, which amounts to a 14.40 ERA and a .375 average against.
After the first inning, Thornhill has pitched like the Friday starter Texas has envisioned this season. The rest of the way he has allowed just eight runs (four earned), on 29 hits and four walks in 28 2/3 innings. He holds a 1.26 ERA after the first inning and is holding opponents to a .188 clip.
If he can keep Kansas State (12-8, 1-2) at bay, he should receive enough run support to carry him deep into the game. That is if the Texas’ bats continue as they have during this winning streak, which includes wins over four top 25 opponents.
The Longhorns have scored nine runs in three straight games and hit .360 during their three-game sweep of Oklahoma.
One of the leaders of the offense has been right fielder Mark Payton, who has reached base in all 19 games this season. Payton, who recorded at least one base hit in 16 games, owns a .333 average and .432 on-base percentage.
Kansas State is looking to snap a two-game skid at the hands of Texas A&M. The Wildcats took the first game of the series 15-12 but dropped the final two 9-2 and 7-2.
Right-hander Matt Applegate (1-2, 6.04 ERA) will toe the rubber for the Wildcats.