In the Thursday opener, Chad Hollingsworth gave a poor start that dug a 5-3 hole for Texas in his 5 innings of work. It was another rough outing for the guy many hope, myself included, to lock down the #2 starting spot behind Parker French. Paired with the poor start from Hollingsworth, the offense looked to regress, leaving the bases loaded in the 4th, 6th, and 9th innings en route to leaving 14 total men on. It was just enough to give up a 5-4 Stanford win. Ben Johnson did his best to carry the Horns, going 3-for-4 with 3 RBIs and a pair of homers, his first career multi-HR game.
On Friday, Kacy Clemens turned in 5 and a third of work and left the game after hitting the Stanford third baseman, holding a 3-2 lead. But the Texas bullpen had a rare faltering, with reliever Kirby Bellow giving up two runs in the 6th and Kyle Johnson allowing the insurance run in the 8th. The Texas offense got started early, with DH Taylor Stell recording his first hit of the season on a 3-run homer in the second. Unfortunately, that would be about all for the Horns' bats on Friday, as the Cardinal went for 5 unanswered runs (for a final mark of 5-3) and no Texas batter recorded more than one hit.
With Texas on the bad end of a 4-game slide, veteran Parker French got the Saturday start after his late appearance against USD the prior weekend. French responded, going 7 innings and allowing just a run. The run support came early again, with Tres Barrera scoring CJ Hinojosa after an Hinojosa double in the 1st, and Collin Shaw bringing across Michael Cantu and Ben Johnson in the 2nd. Kirby Bellow redeemed himself while picking up his first save of the season, forcing a double play in the 9th to finish the 3-1 Texas win.
To close out the series, the Texas offense came back to life to notch a 12-4 win to split the series. Ben Johnson led the way again, going a perfect 5-for-5 with 2 runs and 2 RBIs. Collin Shaw contributed 2-for-5 and 2 RBIs, while Tres Barrera and Zane Gurwitz each adding 2 run homers.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Barrera goes way out to LF for a 2-run homer. <a href="http://t.co/krOR5EP7ho">http://t.co/krOR5EP7ho</a></p>— Texas Baseball (@Texas_Baseball) <a href="https://twitter.com/Texas_Baseball/status/574672598463729664">March 8, 2015</a></blockquote>
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In all, every Horn starter had a hit and all but Shaw scored a run. Sawyer put in a solid effort with 2 runs given up on 5 innings, while the freshman duo of Kyle Johnson and Conner Mayes pitched 3 and a third innings of scoreless work.
Bats rebound, keep improved pace in 2015
One of the leading storylines early in 2015 is the improved Texas offense.
Texas baseball through 16 games (against similar SoS) 2014: .242 BA, .309 SLG, 4 BB, 4 R per game 2015: .273 BA, .412 SLG, 5.25 BB, 5.75 R— Burnt Orange Nation (@BON_SBNation) March 9, 2015
The improvement is across the board, and the Tommy Nicholson line-up is showing quality throughout the order. The top of the order, Johnson-Shaw-Hinojosa-Barrera, is going .443-.308-.214-.339 to start, with Hinojosa being the low water mark early. The middle of the order is holding up as well, with Marlow-Boswell-Cantu going .267-.267-.304.
Ben Johnson stays hot, leads Big 12 heading to conference play
Ben Johnson started the season on a good note, and has held pace. Currently sitting at .443, the Texas leadoff man leads the Big 12 in batting average, hits (31), and total bases (48). Not a bad way to get the season going for the junior outfielder.
The 10-6 Texas Longhorns return to Tuesday action at UFCU Disch-Falk Field to take on the Southland Conference's University of the Incarnate Word, just in their second season of Division I baseball. Freshman righty Tyler Schimpf gets his first career start for Texas, and he'll go against UIW sophomore righty Cody Richey, who is 0-3 on the year with a 4.70 ERA. Audio will be available on TexasSports.com and the game will be broadcast on the Longhorn Network. This is your open thread.