AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Texas Longhorns held the country’s top-ranked college baseball team down for more than eight innings Tuesday at UFCU Disch-Falk Field, but eventually the Louisiana State Tigers roared.

After a pair of walks to start the ninth inning, LSU second baseman Gavin Dugas launched a 3-run home run over the left-center field wall for the first runs of the game and what turned out to be the game-winning swing.

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The big blast on a 2-1 count spoiled what was a terrific performance by the Longhorns pitching staff. Starter Lebarron Johnson set a career-high with nine strikeouts and walked two batters in five innings and 92 pitches. He allowed just three hits and no runs with a fastball that reached 97 mph multiple times and a 90 mph splitter with so much downward action it’s like it disappeared when it got to the plate.

Longhorns head coach David Pierce said Johnson has “electric stuff” and he could be a series-opening starter for anyone in the country.

“He just shut down the No. 1 team in the country and looked dominating doing it,” Pierce said of Johnson. “For him, it’s about his repeatability and being able to feel more comfortable.”

In the end, however, despite the great pitching for 8.1 innings, Texas let one get away with free passes. Longhorns left-handed pitcher Chris Stuart walked Joshua Thompson and Brady Neal to start the ninth inning. After Stuart struck out Ben Nippolt, Pierce went to the bullpen for Andre Duplantier II. Dugas came into the game hitting .478 for the Tigers, and when Duplantier elevated a fastball, Dugas didn’t miss it. The towering blast sailed past the scoreboard and the first runs of the game came nearly three hours after the first pitch.

“We didn’t make them earn those three runs,” Pierce said. “At the same time, I liked the look in our eye the whole day.”

Texas had four hits in the game but hit the ball hard early on. Dylan Campbell smacked a line drive in the first inning that LSU left fielder Tre’ Morgan didn’t have to move to catch, and catcher Garret Guillemette lined out to the shortstop who then doubled off Eric Kennedy at second to end the inning.

Kennedy had two hits, a double off the right field wall for the Longhorns’ first hit of the game in the third inning and a perfect drag bunt for a single in the eighth. As one of the veteran players on the team, he said while there aren’t any moral victories, he said the Longhorns are “a damn good team.”

“Once we start hitting, we’re going to be dangerous,” Kennedy said. “LSU made pitches when they had to, but at the same time, we missed some pitches and we need to be ready when we get in the box.”

LSU starting pitcher Thatcher Hurd went 4.2 innings with four strikeouts and three walks, but Nate Ackenhausen was credited with the win on the hill, pitching 3.1 innings in relief allowing one hit and striking out four. Christian Little earned the save after working a clean ninth inning.

Texas (3-5) heads to Southern California to take on the Cal State-Fullerton Titans for a weekend series beginning Friday. The Titans have stumbled a little out of the gate with a 2-4 record, but as a perennial powerhouse in college baseball, Pierce is excited to see how the team handles its first plane ride to play some ball.

“This will be good for us to get on the road and play a talented team,” Pierce said. “It’s going to be another challenge for us.”