The Longhorns’ bats come alive for 15 hits in an 8-1 win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Wednesday night. Now they look to ride their recent wave of success into the weekend series with Oklahoma.
Box Score The No. 9 Texas Longhorns faced off against the A&M Corpus Christi Islanders Wednesday night trying to sweep the two-game series and run their record to 26-8 on the season.
The Islanders struck first on the night with a solo shot in the second from Jeremie Marek but wouldn’t be heard from again the rest of the way. The homerun to left field was off Longhorn starter Brandon Workman, making the score 1-0. Workman then held the Islanders in check allowing only one more hit until he was pulled in the fourth inning for right-hander Stayton Thomas.
The Longhorns got things going in the fourth when Kevin Keyes led off the inning with a single into center field, was sacrificed to second by shortstop Brandon Loy and moved to third on a balk by Corpus Christi starter Brett Carnline. Freshman Kevin Lusson, a younger brother of outfielder Kyle Lusson and making his first collegiate appearance, drove him in with a line drive single into right field but was gunned down trying to advance to second.
Keyes took the field wearing the number 42 jersey in commemoration of Jackie Robinson and had an excellent performance, reaching base four times and scoring two runs.
“I asked Coach Garrido this morning if I could wear it,” said Keyes, “and it just feels good being able to play well on such a special day”.
The number 42 was on display throughout the majors today well, as many organizations broke out team sets of the jersey in commemoration of the groundbreaking sports figure’s first game in the majors 62 years ago.
The Islanders threatened again on Thomas in the fifth with a double by Jeremey Narvaez down the left field line to lead off the inning. He moved to third on a sacrifice bunt and Jonathan Reyes hit a fly ball to center field, seemingly deep enough to score the runner, but a perfect throw by Connor Rowe cut him down at the plate and kept the ballgame tied.
The Longhorns looked to take the lead in the bottom of the fifth when second baseman Travis Tucker led off the fifth with a triple down the right field line. Brandon Belt put the Horns on top with a sacrifice fly to left field, making the score 2-1. Tant Shepherd got things going again, reaching on a hit by pitch and Keyes lined a single down the right field line for his third hit of the game, enabling Shepherd to go first to third. Loy drove in the Longhorns’ third run with an infield single. Keyes moved to third on a stolen base and Lusson walked to load the bases. A wild pitch plated Keyes for the Longhorns third and final run of the inning.
Brandon Belt gave the Longhorns their fifth run of the game with an opposite-field solo homerun to lead off the bottom of the seventh, and ended the game with four hits, two RBI and a run scored. He shrugged it off and pointed to the big series versus OU.
“Yeah, I had a good game,” said Belt. “But what I’m more excited about is the team is playing great right now and we’ve got a big series this weekend.”
The Longhorns weren’t finished in the inning and made it back-to-back jacks as Tant Shepherd drove one out to left center field. Keyes followed with a walk and was replaced by a pinch runner who was then caught stealing. Lusson continued his strong night at the plate with a line drive double into the right center gap. Preston Clark followed with a double to right, driving in Lusson, and Rowe completed the scoring on the night for the Longhorns with an RBI single to left making the score 8-1.
Garrido was pleased with the freshman Lusson’s debut performance and gave some insight into the decision to give him the start.
“He had a great game,” said Garrido. “Kevin has played very well in the scrimmages, especially defensively. I called him in and asked him if he wanted to give up the redshirt and told him if he played with confidence there would be more opportunities.”
Lusson drove the ball and displayed an excellent eye at the plate and if he continues to play at the level displayed tonight, there will surely be more opportunities for him in the future.
It wasn’t only Lusson at the plate tonight though, and the offensive output for the night really had the players excited.
“I think the team right now is very confident,” said Keyes. “The offense is deadly when it’s rolling and it should really be a fun weekend”.
Kendal Carrillo, Taylor Jungmann and Sam Stafford took the seventh, eighth, and ninth respectively and combined for three innings, giving up two hits and no runs while striking out five.
Texas heads into the weekend series one and a half games back of Oklahoma for first place in the conference. The Longhorns have only lost two games at home on the season and will look for a sweep to catapult them into first place in the Big 12. Friday’s start time against the Sooners is set for 6:00 p.m. Chance Ruffin will be on the mound for the Horns.