With a long time in between the series finale against TCU and tonight’s game against UIW, the Texas Longhorns had to deal with final exams as well as down time they have not experienced since before the season started. Texas showed few signs of rust tonight as they cruised past a 20-32 Cardinals team, 10-3. Sophomore Nick Kennedy’s starting effort earned not only his eighth win, but also Texas’ 12th midweek victory in 14 games.
The Cardinals jumped ahead early with a solo shot from David Anaya in the first. Texas immediately responded in the bottom half of the inning when a sacrifice fly from junior left fielder Travis Jones brought home freshman center fielder Austin Todd to tie it at one.
Texas exploded for four runs in the second, half of them coming from junior catcher Michael Cantu’s 2-run shot hit to deep left center field. Later in the inning, senior first baseman Kacy Clemens brought home two with an RBI single, his team leading 36th on the year.
The Longhorns added two more in the third, the first coming from a one-out RBI double by junior second baseman Bret Boswell. Then, freshman shortstop David Hamilton sent a sharply hit ball to the wall in right field to score Boswell from second, but was thrown out at third trying to extend a double into a triple.
UIW tried to chip away at the Longhorn lead once Kennedy left the game after four innings, allowing two hits, one earned run, one walk and striking out four. He was replaced by senior Jon Malmin, who was charged with two runs but only gave up one himself. Malmin was replaced by sophomore Parker Joe Robinson, who gave up an RBI double to make the game 7-3 UT. Robinson left the game with 0.0 innings pitched and was replaced by junior Connor Mayes, who ended the Cardinals’ fifth with a flyout caught by senior Zane Gurwitz on the warning track.
Texas added three more in the eighth, including two when junior right fielder Patrick Mathis sent a 2-run shot to left field to make it 9-3. A few batters later, Gurwitz sent a sacrifice fly to left field to bring home Clemens and to put the Longhorns’ scoring in double digits. Texas had 15 hits on the night, including three apiece from Clemens and Mathis, while only striking out four times as a team.
Following Mayes’ 1.1 innings pitched, freshman Blair Henley, sophomore Chase Shugart and sophomore Beau Ridgeway each pitched one inning to finish the game, with a walk from Ridgeway being the only blemish among the pitching trio.
Texas takes on West Virginia this weekend at home in the final series before the Big 12 Tournament in Oklahoma City.
Quotes via UT
Head coach David Pierce
On the win: You come in after exam break and you’ve got nine days off. You want to come out, you want to be clean defensively, you want to pitch well and I thought we swung the bats well. I was impressed with our offense. It’s not that we got a lot of hits, but the way we did it, we didn’t try to do too much. We stayed in the middle of the field and when we got balls to turn on, we turned on them.
On whether this is what he expected of his team after a long break: It’s interesting, because you don’t know how to respond. You know their energy level’s up, their relief from their exams. But you haven’t played another opponent in nine days. You expect them to come back ready to go. We had three or four good days of practice, so I really did expect it. But you never really know.
On looking ahead to the postseason: One thing we talked about is, the West Virginia series means nothing if we don’t take care of business tonight. They understand that the meaning of this weekend and where we are positioned, they know we’re not going to win the conference but we’re in a great position as far as RPI and the national scene. We need to go out and play well and see if we can win the series.
Junior Catcher Michael Cantu
On playing after a nine day break: It felt great just to get back on, we’ve been scrimmaging but it’s nothing like a real game. It was tough getting swept and having to sit on it for a whole week and a half or whatever it may have been. I think we came out, I think we swung the bats well and our pitching made pitches when they needed to.
On starting off the week with a win: It’s always great to start off the week with a win and we know West Virginia’s a very good team, they always give us fits and they’re going to play their best just like everybody else. Every weekend now is big, it’d be nice to finish strong an go into the Big 12 tournament. We’ve just go to take it one pitch at a time and staying within ourselves and going out and trying to get W’s.
Freshman Outfielder Austin Todd
On coming back after a long finals break: It’s good to have a break every now and then, but we didn’t really have a day off. Every time that we didn’t have practice, we were over here in the cage working.
On how the win against UIW will help the team: I think it definitely will help moving forward. We’ve just got to keep playing the game. At TCU, we had two tough losses and that’s baseball. We’ve just got to keep playing.
On how the team kept focused over the break: With finals kind of winding down, everyone was just basically on the same page, hey, you’ve got to get your work in whenever you’re not playing, not practicing. Practice the last two days was very laid back, but it was very competitive. We had a lot of competition.