AUSTIN — After Friday’s series opener against Kansas State was postponed due to weather, the Texas skies were calm enough for Texas to notch two conference victories over Kansas State. In the first game, Texas came back with a big eighth inning to win 5-3, while Chad Hollingsworth and Kirby Bellow dominated the Wildcat bats in the second game, 3-1. Here’s the box score.
Senior Parker French started the first game and earned a no-decision, going six innings and allowing three runs on seven hits. Senior Kirby Bellow earned the win in relief, throwing a perfect seventh and eighth inning. Junior Ty Culbreth earned his third save of the season.
The defense in the first game was sloppy on both sides thanks to the misty conditions, with five total errors between to two ball clubs, including two by freshman third baseman Bret Boswell. French himself had an error, which allowed a Wildcat run to cross.
The bats showed up for Texas in the first, but stayed asleep until the big eighth inning. In the first, sophomore Tres Barrera blooped a double down the right field line to score senior Ben Johnson. Then, freshman Michael Cantu walked with the bases loaded to give Texas an early 2-1 lead.
Kansas State would plate one in both the sixth and the seventh to put themselves ahead, but the eighth put Texas in the lead for good. First, Boswell led the inning off with a double, followed by another double by Cantu, who had failed to get a bunt downearlier in the at bat. Then, sophomore Kacy Clemens singled to right allowing pinch runner Taylor Stell to score after the Wildcat right fielder failed to come up with the ball cleanly.
Texas needed three pitchers in the ninth to end the game. Freshman Kyle Johnston walked the only batter he faced, and freshman and recent newcomer of the week Connor Mayes allowed a single to his only batter. With runners on first and third, Culbreth was able to end the inning and save the first game.
After a short break in the locker room for both teams, game two began with Hollingsworth facing the minimum through the first three innings. He allowed only six hits and one earned over 7.1 IP, and also struck out four. He was replaced in the eighth by Bellow, who pitched another perfect inning and two thirds to save the second game.
Texas scored in the first inning for the second time on the day when junior C.J Hinojosa brought home Johnson on an RBI double. The next Longhorn run came in the third, when sophomore Zane Gurwitz scored on a towering RBI triple from Johnson. The Horns added one more in the fifth, when Gurwitz brought home Boswell with his own RBI single.
After three errors in the first game, Texas played outstanding defense across the field in the second game. Both Hinojosa and Clemens made professional difficulty outs on a playing surface that felt more akin to old-school Astroturf than modern field turf.
Head coach Augie Garrido said that his team was able to stay focused even after some bounces did not go their way.
“I don’t think the runs on the scoreboard indicate how well we hit offensively,” Garrido said. “The thing I really thought was much better than maybe ever was when they did hit the ball hard they didn’t put their heads down. They didn’t feel sorry for themselves because they didn’t get a hit. I thought that was outstanding.”
Garrido also talked about how well Clemens played at first and in the batters’ box in his first start at the position all season.
“[Clemens] hasn’t hit much at all, which was a benefit,” Garrido said. “He wasn’t thinking at all he was just playing. His instincts brought him some real quality at bats. I think [Clemens] had more effect than was recognizable. They feel more comfortable with him because he played all last year. It’s like an old glove you’ve used for a long time. It seems to fit and you just don’t think about it.”
Garrido mentioned the great defense that his team played in the second game after a disappointing first game defensively.
“I think they’re responding to what you’ve heard me talk about a lot; the development of the individual players in relationship to the adversity that they face,” he said. “Rather than feeling bad about themselves because they made three errors, they went out and played an exceptional defensive game.”
Holingsworth said that even though he delivered another great outing, he had to credit his defense for making some great plays.
“I’m pretty pleased with what I did,” Hollingsworth said. “[Hinojosa] made two great plays up the middle that I didn’t expect anybody to make. It’s nice to know they always have my back. Every week they come through for me.”
Hollingsworth mentioned how pitching coach Skip Johnson has a slight difference of opinion on how he should pitch.
“I like moving quick, but Skip is trying to get me to move a little bit slower,” Hollingsworth said, stifling a chuckle. “I understand where he’s coming from, but I feel like we’re going to have to compromise on that.”
Even Clemens, who said he has not picked up his bat during practice all spring, was happy to be able to contribute to this team in multiple dimensions.
“This is what I came here for,” Clemens said on both pitching and hitting. “It’s a lot different than being a pitcher and watching the game from the side when you don’t pitch.”
Texas goes for the sweep with Clemens on the mound tomorrow at 1 p.m.