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Texas completes sweep of UCLA with 10-5 victory

The Longhorns took all three games in the weekend series to bring their win streak to five.

Kacy and Kody Clemens
Brian Hoang

In a game that stretched over four hours, Texas Longhorns baseball (12-6) emerged victorious over the UCLA Bruins (6-8) with a 10-5 win to complete the three game series sweep. Texas has now won five straight games after falling three games to one in last weekend’s series against Stanford.

The game went back and forth early. Texas jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first thanks to an Austin Todd RBI single and Brett Boswell RBI double, but UCLA knotted it up in the top of the second 2-2 with an RBI double of its own and a sac fly.

Texas would reclaim the lead in the third after a David Hamilton sac fly to score Michael McCann, but UCLA jumped back out to a 4-3 lead in the fourth thanks to a double play that scored a runner followed by a single. A throwing error in the bottom of the inning scored Tate Shaw to tie the game at four, and a Ryan Reynolds single scored Kacy Clemens to make it 5-4. It would be pretty much all Longhorns from then out.

A four run sixth inning burst sparked by a David Hamilton double put the Bruins away. The Bruins would score one more off of a sac fly in the seventh, but Texas would bring its lead back to five after a Travis Jones RBI single to score Brett Boswell.

Jake McKenzie held Texas’ big lead in check in his 2.1 innings, and Texas would finish the lengthy game with a 10-5 win.

Pitching Notes:

- Freshman Blair Henley got the start today and turned in an unspectacular, but good enough performance. He allowed four runs, two of which were earned, and had a man on third when he exited the game after 5.2 innings of work. Henley had some command issues, as he allowed four walks, and the youngster also let up six hits. However, he held in check enough for his offense to bail out his minor misgivings.

- Like yesterday, the Longhorns used a plethora of relievers for short stints today. Beau Ridgeway, Jon Malmin, and Connor Mayes pitched a combined one inning. Ridgeway threw a five pitch walk and subsequently left the game in favor of the lefty Malmin. Malmin threw only one pitch, but had a key two out pick off to get Texas out of a jam with a runner on third. The senior has gotten out of trouble in creative ways this season, such as when he got the lead runner out at third on a sac bunt against Stanford last weekend. Mayes being used was intriguing, as it seemed like the junior may have been pegged start against Texas A&M on Tuesday. The righty threw 21 pitches and allowed a run on two hits and a walk in his 0.2 innings pitched. He didn’t look great today, so it will be interesting to see his role in the aforementioned mid-week match-up with the Aggies.

- Jake McKenzie looked very good in finishing the game with 2.1 innings of action. McKenzie only allowed one hit, and his dominance prevented Texas from having to use Kyle Johnston in the closing spot. That’s huge, because Johnston should be well rested enough to take the hill against Texas A&M if David Pierce wants to use him as a starter.

Hitting Notes:

- The most optimism inspiring aspect of today’s game was the emergence of unlikely hitters in the lineup. Tate Shaw, who hadn’t appeared in a game until February 25th against UCONN, was the lead-off man for the ‘Horns and reached base all five of his at bats — even if that meant reaching on an error, a walk, or even getting hit by a pitch. Shaw is now 5-11 at the plate this season.

- Michael McCann is another unexpected source of pop in the order for the ‘Horns. The catcher, who wasn’t even on Texas’ active roster in 2016, went 3-4 on the day including a two RBI single in the sixth. The redshirt sophomore is now hitting a team best .500 average (10-20 on the year), and could become a mainstay in the lineup. Could McCann even take over as starter catcher for Michael Cantu, who has only hit .152 this season?

- Kacy Clemens continues to tear it up in his senior season. Like Shaw, Clemens reached base in every at bat with three hits and two walks. The older Clemens bro is Texas’ hit leader and is clearly the team’s offensive MVP in 2017.

- Texas had a stellar 14 hits today and the team’s batting average is rapidly returning to adequate levels after falling below .200 last week.

* * *

The ‘Horns will face off against Texas A&M at 6:30 pm CST on Tuesday at the Disch. The ‘Horns fell the Aggies on a walk-off homer last year in a tension filled game, so expect some bad blood between the two teams. It’s likely that Kyle Johnston will start against the Aggies despite serving as a closer for Texas in the first two games against UCLA.

Following Tuesday’s game against the Aggies, the Longhorns will begin a grueling Big 12 schedule. Texas will face 2016 College World Series attendees Texas Tech next weekend in a three game series.

It took Texas 27 games to reach 12 wins last year, but in 2017, the Longhorns already have 12 victories in only 18 games. Despite the difficult upcoming schedule, Texas should be riding on some momentum entering Big 12 play.