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Texas Baseball holds off scrappy WVU, takes two of three

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Opening Big 12 play with 3 games in Austin, the Texas Longhorns held off a pesky WVU squad to take two of three and begin 2015 with a winning conference record.

Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

The Longhorns got Big 12 conference play started off on the right foot with an excellent performance from starting pitcher Parker French, who tossed 9 tough innings as the Horns won 4-3 in 10. The senior righty gave up 7 hits and a walk, while striking out 7 and allowing 3 runs (2 earned). After a shaky start in which West Virginia grabbed an early 1-0 lead in the 1st, French settled in and had his way with the WVU lineup. It wasn't until the 6th inning when the Mountaineers were able to capitalize on some sloppy defense to plate 2 more runs, but French put the clamps back on and got the Horns through 9.

At the plate, CJ Hinojosa shook off his slow start to the season to have a strong day. His RBI triple in the 3rd drove home Ben Johnson and got Texas on the board. In the 7th, he followed Brooks Marlow's 6th inning solo home run with a solo homer of his own to tie the game at 3. He finished 2-for-4 with 2 RBIs and a run. Ben Johnson contributed 2-for-5 and a run, and Brooks Marlow added 2-for-5 with 2 runs and an RBI. But with the game on the line in the tied 10th inning, it was redshirt freshman Connor Macalla offering up the sacrifice fly to score Marlow and win the game.

Friday final score: (W) 4-3 (10 innings)

The Saturday game featured a Texas squad with its head elsewhere to start the game, as West Virginia jumped out to a 6-0 advantage to through 2 and a half innings. A combination of a poor start by sophomore lefty Josh Sawyer and some sloppy defense aided the WVU offensive. Following a walk to the leadoff man in the third, Sawyer was pulled for freshman Connor Mayes. After limiting the damage to one run and a 6-0 advantage for WVU through 3, Mayes was masterful. In 6.2 innings of work, Mayes held the Mountaineers scoreless while giving up 3 hits and a walk and striking out 10. The effort was enough to let the Horns climb back into it.

A Collin Shaw solo homer in the bottom of the 3rd started the rally. A two-out double from DH Taylor Stell in the 4th brought Michael Cantu home from 1st to cut the lead to 6-2. The 5th inning got off to a turbulent start, with a Ben Johnson lead-off triple ending in nothing as he got picked off returning to third base. But consecutive walks put two Horns aboard and Michael Cantu brought them home with a double, cutting the lead to 6-4. In the 6th, the Mountaineers returned the favor for Texas's poor defensive start with some costly errors of their own, allowing the Horns to close the gap to a 6-6 tie.

However, the Saturday rally would fall short, as a bases loaded walk in the 10th by Ty Culberth gave WVU a 7-6 lead. In the bottom of the frame, with Bret Boswell at 1st and one out, a hard liner by Connor Macalla to the second baseman was snagged and Boswell was doubled up at 1st, ending the game. Michael Cantu ended the game with a great outing, going 3-for-4 with a run and 2 RBIs, and Ben Johnson and Taylor Stell combining for 4 hits, a run, and 2 RBIs.

Saturday final score: (L) 7-6 (10 innings)

In the Sunday rubber match, Chad Hollingsworth gave 7 strong innings with just a hit and a walk and 5 hits, and the only run allowed a solo home run in the 7th. He continues to work his way back from injury, and was able to get solid defense behind him on the way to the 5-1 win. The drama free Sunday featured 5 and a half innings of scoreless baseball, before Texas put up 3 in the 6th and added 2 more in the 7th. Following Hollingsworth's 7 innings, the hard throwing freshman Kyle Johnston tossed the final 2 innings, allowing 2 hits while striking out 3, showing exactly the type of stuff that makes him so tough out of the bullpen.

Sunday final score: (W) 5-1

Texas record: 13-7 (2-1 in Big 12)

Notes

- Connor Mayes' Saturday performance was enough to earn Big 12 Newcomer of the Week honors.

- One of the biggest aspects of Texas's offensive resurgence is in gaining extra bases. Through 20 games, Texas has 65 total extra bases (43 doubles, 8 triples, and 14 home runs) compared to 27 a year ago (15 doubles, 9 triples, and 3 homers). Leading the charge is senior outfielder Collin Shaw, who has 15 extra base hits on the year and is 2nd in the NCAA in doubles.

- Putting the Horns down is still a bad idea.

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Kacy Clemens gets the Tuesday start for Texas, who travels to Arlington to take on the Sun Belt's UT-Arlington. The game will not be televised. This is your open thread.