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Prior to Sunday, Texas had gone almost two seasons between weekend sweeps. With a sloppy 10-5 victory over UCLA, Texas ended that run and completed a five win week before the beginning of a week with multiple in-state rivals on the schedule.
“The kids came out and played a complete weekend,” head coach David Pierce said. “Today, we really thought going into the ballgame that it’s going to be a low scoring game. Offensively, we talk about scoring in multiple ways. We were able to do that with some speed at the top and [senior first baseman] Kacy [Clemens] staying hot right now. Just a lot of guys contributing.”
Texas entered Sunday following a rain-soaked victory on Saturday. Freshman Blair Henley was on the mound, and while he had to fight through some tough innings, was backed up by a potent offense that put up a lot of runs early and had some balls fall their way.
“Same team, just the ball bounced a little different,” Clemens said. “We definitely swung the bats better this weekend. We definitely hit pitches that were up in the zone.”
The Horns jumped to an early 2-0 lead in the first inning thanks a Clemens RBI single. Junior second baseman Bret Boswell then brought Clemens home with an RBI double.
UCLA responded with two runs in the second from an RBI double and a sacrifice fly, but Texas took the lead back in the bottom half. Sophomore catcher Michael McCann continued his scorching start to the season with a single and a stolen base. He advanced to third on a base hit, and scored on a sacrifice fly from freshman shortstop David Hamilton.
“There’s not a kid that works harder than him on the team,” Pierce said about McCann after the game. “He has gotten better. He’s created a little bit more reliability, and you’re seeing it right now. He’s very comfortable at home plate.”
The Bruins put two more runs on the board in the fourth, and once again, Texas immediately responded to take the lead back. Sophomore designated hitter Tate Shaw reached on a HBP and stole second. With a double play set up to end the inning, the Bruin second baseman booted a routine grounder, and it got far enough away for Shaw to score from second to tie it up. Texas would take the lead back for good when freshman third baseman Ryan Reynolds singled. Clemens was sent home, and a poor throw from the UCLA right fielder allowed him to score standing up.
Henley left the game with two outs in the sixth and a one run lead. He was replaced by sophomore Beau Ridgeway, who walked the only batter he faced. Senior Jon Malmin was called in to end the Bruin threat, and he came through to shut down the UCLA chance.
Pierce’s team would put the game out of reach with a four run sixth. Hamilton led off the inning with a double. Clemens singled the next at bat, and Hamilton was able to score when the UCLA left fielder mishandled a simple ground ball. Later on in the inning, McCann continued to swing the bat well with a two out, two RBI single. After the game, McCann said he has never been on a tear like this before.
“I haven’t,” McCann said. “I just go up there, relax, and tell myself to see the ball and hit it, and it’s working out for me right now. I’m just looking to keep that going.”
Texas finished their big sixth when the UCLA pitcher balked on a first to third pickoff attempt, allowing junior left fielder Travis Jones to score.
Texas would tack on one more run in the eighth when an RBI single from Jones brought Boswell home.
Junior Connor Mayes, who has received starts on Tuesdays and was a possibility to start against Texas A&M this week, pitched just two thirds of an inning in relief of Malmin before leaving due to what Pierce called a “little hip problem.” Junior Jake McKenzie came in and threw 2.1 innings to earn the save.
The three game sweep to cap off a five win week pleased Pierce, but he also acknowledged the team has a lot of room to improve.
“You always want to be on a streak,” Pierce said. “The five game winning streak is awesome. I’m not so caught up into that. I’m much more concerned about how we continue to get better. We can do that. We kicked the ball around a little bit, and so far that hasn’t been our characteristic. We’re going to continue to play every pitch.”
Pierce talked after the game about how he’s going to treat this Tuesday’s match up with rival Texas A&M.
“It’s just another midweek game,” Pierce said jokingly. “It’s always fun. Any time you match up with a historical rival, it just gives you a little bit more energy. The crowd makes it even more so. It’s going to be fun. I know we’ll come out ready to play. We’re just going to have to control emotions.”