Texas Longhorns baseball is home tonight against the UT-Rio Grande Valley Vaqueros. The Longhorns have lost three straight midweek contests with two coming against very respectable squads (Houston and Lamar), as well as a mystifying shutout loss to TAMUCC.
In the best of times these midweek games are tune ups for the more important weekend contests. These days they are all essential. Texas desperately needs to go 3-1 each of the next two weeks in order to reach .500 and maintain its dim hopes of an NCAA Tournament appearance.
UT-GRV is 198th in the country per Boyd's World which makes them officially "NOT A PUSHOVER". The Vaqueros have hit seventh home runs on the year while giving up only six, and they boast five pitchers with double digit innings and solid ERAs. They're a team Texas should beat, but only if they show up.
But enough about them, I want to talk about Clemens. In particular I want to talk about Kacy Clemens, the brother of former Astros minor leaguer Koby Clemens. The southpaw has been a mainstay at first base since the CWS run in 2014 and was largely an offensive liability in his first two years. Clemens hit .212 and .2014 as a freshman and sophomore respectively with five extra base hits in over 250 at bats.
The 2016 season started out no different for Clemens as he went 3-17 over the first five games of the season. Texas realized that the answer to Clemens' offensive struggles could be solved by turning to Hollywood, so the junior got the Rick "Wild Thing" Vaughn treatment and got glasses.
Clemens' production since getting glasses has been staggeringly great. He is hitting .333 (33-100) with nine doubles, one triple, three home runs, and 19 RBI. On the season Clemens is first or second on Texas in batting average, OBP, and OPS.
The emergence of Kacy Clemens has been great to watch, but is also a painful reminder of how close (yet how far) this team is from being good. Texas boasts four high-quality "power" bats in Clemens, Travis Jones, Tres Barrera and Patrick Mathis, along with several other above average hitters in Zane Gurwitz, Joe Baker, Tyler Rand and Kody Clemens. But putting it all together has been a problem in 2016 and for that reason the Horns are four games under .500 with a dwindling number of games to play.
First pitch tonight is at 6 p.m. CT on the Longhorn Network. It'll be Connor Mayes making his first start since March 13th at UCLA.