A day after Morgan Cooper tossed a gem in the opener of this weekend’s home series against Connecticut, Kyle Johnston followed it up with a great performance of his own. Unfortunately for Texas, UConn’s Willis Montgomerie was even better.
Johnston allowed only three hits over seven innings of work while striking out seven. The Huskies manufactured a pair of runs in the sixth by following an inning-opening strikeout with bunt single, a ground ball single, and a bases-clearing double by Isaac Feldstein. Johnston got out of the inning without further damage with a strikeout and a groundout, but the Texas bats couldn’t overcome the 2-0 deficit.
The Longhorns actually out-hit the visiting Huskies 5-4, but as usual it’s all about getting hits at the right time. UConn put together three of its four hits in a single frame, leading to the game-winning two-spot.
That’s not to say Texas went down without a fight. A small rally in the seventh chased Montgomerie with one away, and not a moment too soon: the junior righty amassed an impressive thirteen strikeouts out of the 19 outs he recorded, while scattering four hits.
The Texas offense then threatened to steal the ballgame from the UConn bullpen in the ninth. Kacy Clemens led off the inning with a well-earned, full-count walk. After a Ryan Reynolds strikeout, Joe Baker pinch hit for Bret Boswell and drew a walk of his own.
That brought the winning run to the plate in the person of Travis Jones, who duly singled up the middle to score what would be Texas’ only run. David Hamilton flew out to right, advancing the tying run to third. But leadoff man Zane Gurwitz couldn’t get the game-tying hit, instead rolling a fielder’s choice to shortstop to end it.
Montgomerie is an excellent hurler and there’s not necessarily any reason to gnash teeth over Texas’ lack of offensive production Saturday. That said, outside of Kacy Clemens the Texas hitters have lacked consistency thus far. The season is young, but it’s not too early to note that with the pitching staff having to this point returned to its traditional excellence, improved offensive production could make Texas an awfully tough squad if they can figure it out.
The rubber game today at noon is an opportunity for freshman righty Blair Henley to build on his excellent first start last week, in which he threw five innings, giving up three hits, one walk and one run while striking out eight.
UConn will counter with senior Doug Domnarski, who looks to put his season-opening start behind him: last week he was chased after just one inning of work, in which he gave up six hits and six runs to UMass Lowell in a game the Huskies eventually lost 11-8.
The game is on the Longhorn Network and the audio broadcast is available for free at the Texas Athletics website. This is your BON open thread.