Texas Longhorns baseball (13-6) earned its sixth straight victory on Tuesday night when David Pierce’s club defeated the No. 17 Texas A&M Aggies (14-3) 4-3 at the Disch.
A match-up of two disciplined ball clubs surprisingly came down to errors and mistakes. Nick Kennedy delivered five fantastic innings as starting pitcher, but allowed a run to score in the top of the fourth due to a controversial two-out balk to give A&M a 1-0 lead.
Texas would more than make up for it by capitalizing on Texas A&M’s misfortunes in the bottom of the same inning. The Aggies, who only had 19 errors on the year entering tonight’s game, committed four on the night, including two in the fourth to help catalyze a three run burst by the ‘Horns.
Texas’ big inning began when freshman shortstop David Hamilton earned a lead-off walk. A balk followed, advancing Hamilton to second. Kacy Clemens then knocked home the speedy youngster with a base hit to tie the game at one.
Austin Todd then laid down a bunt which was thrown away by the third baseman. Todd wound up on second base and Clemens crossed home from second to make the score 2-1. After a Brett Boswell ground-out, the Aggie third basemen committed another error when he couldn’t handle a grounder by Ryan Reynolds, moving Todd to third and putting Reynolds on first.
Zane Gurwitz then struck out for the second Longhorn out, but the Texas damage wasn’t done. With Todd on third and Reynolds on first, red-hot catcher Michael McCann knocked a base hit to bring the score to 3-1.
A wild pitch moved McCann to second and Reynolds to third, but Tate Shaw couldn’t make the most of his two runners in scoring position. He struck out swinging to end the inning.
The Longhorns would profit from Aggie errors again in the bottom of the fifth. Travis Jones singled to lead off, and then used his wheels to swipe second. A failed pick off attempt then allowed Jones to advance to third with no outs. David Hamilton would strikeout, but Kacy Clemens then reached base on a walk. A botched pick-off to first led to Jones scoring from third. The Longhorns didn’t threaten the rest of the inning, but they entered the sixth with a 4-1 lead.
After nothing doing for either side in the sixth, Kevin Rolliard came on in relief for Kennedy to begin the sixth inning. Kennedy finished the day with two walks, only two hits, and six strikeouts in his five full innings.
The freshman Rolliard was impressive in his 1.1 innings, as he allowed one hit and notched two strikeouts. He did have some command problems, issuing three walks which led to Kyle Johnston entering the game in the middle of the seventh inning.
With runners on first and second, Johnston delivered a strikeout and a groundout to get out of the seventh unscathed.
Johnston would have serious trouble when he returned to the bump for the eighth inning, however. Johnston began the inning by allowing the lead off man a free pass on five pitches. He then allowed a single and another walk to load the bases with no outs. After getting a full count on the next batter, Johnston nearly hit him, bringing a run home on the walk. With the score at 4-2, Johnston was pulled from the game in favor of Beau Ridgeway.
Ridgeway achieved a ground-out to get a runner out at second, but Texas surrendered a run in the process (and also couldn’t turn the double play) to cut the Texas lead to 4-3. Texas A&M then attempted a squeeze bunt, but Kacy Clemens made an incredible play charging in from first base and Michael Cantu was able to get the tag to record the second out. Ridgeway got the next Aggie hitter to pop out to Reynolds at third base — inning over, crisis averted.
Ridgeway returned to the hill in the ninth still nursing a 4-3 lead. He allowed a lead off walk on a full count, inducing sweaty palms amongst Longhorn fans everywhere. A sac bunt moved the lead runner to second, but earned the ‘Horns an out. That was it for Ridgeway, as Chase Shugart entered to seal the deal.
Shugart’s 11.12 ERA may have not seemed ideal for the situation, but the sophomore former closer was entrusted to bounce back from a rough start to the season. Shugart recorded two straight ground outs to finish the game off, and the ‘Horns avenged last season’s loss to the Aggies with a 4-3 win.
- Nick Kennedy has earned more playing time after tonight. Kennedy began the season with control issues when he relieved in Texas’ opening series against Rice. He didn’t look ready to be a contributor then, but he certainly does now. If Connor Mayes is limited by his hip injury and Kyle Johnston is going to serve as stopper/closer full time, then Kennedy will likely be the newest addition to Texas’ four man rotation. As a lefty arm, Kennedy could be vital in the ‘Horns’ starting rotation. He may still have some command kinks to work out, but he’s looked well on his way to being a stud in his last two starts.
- Kevin Rolliard may have hurt his case for a bigger role with three walks in 1.1 innings, but I really like what I’ve seen out of the freshman. He may be only a minor supporting cast member this year, but he could be a great arm for the ‘Horns down the line.
- Kyle Johnston got the ‘Horns out of the seventh inning, but looked extremely rough in the eighth. His single and three walks to begin the inning was disastrous for Texas, and Johnston was pulled after giving up a run and leaving the bases loaded with no outs. Johnston’s fantastic heat makes him appear to be a perfect candidate as a closer, but his control issues are a serious concern if he is going to fill that role.
- Beau Ridgeway didn’t record any strikeouts in his 1.1 innings, but simply hit the strike zone and challenged the Aggies to best him. It wasn’t fancy, but it was exactly what Texas needed in the eighth, and he did an excellent job helping the Longhorns avoid catastrophe when Johnston was struggling. However, Ridgeway allowing a lead off walk to begin the ninth with a one run lead was less than ideal.
- Chase Shugart’s
- Travis Jones was a bit of a rally starter tonight. He knocked two lead-off singles, and went 2-4 on the night. His base running was even more crucial than his hits, as he was able to swipe a bag, get out of a pickle, and score following two pick-off errors.
- Michael McCann looks poised to take the starting catcher spot. His clutch two-out single earned him an RBI, and he proved that he isn’t just a consistent hitter, but also a capable defensive player. He gunned down a baserunner stealing second on a semi-wild pitch in the second inning.
- Kacy Clemens is always reliable. He’s been on a tear all season, and was 2-3 on the night with a walk to his name as well. On defense, Clemens expertly fielded a squeeze bunt and got the lead runner out at home to save the game for Texas.
- Patrick Mathis was 1-1 and walked on the day, but was injured in the ninth inning in right field after falling hard when chasing down a foul ball. Here’s to hoping the big hitter is ok — he did walk off under his own power, fortunately.
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Up next for Texas is a three game series with No. 6 Texas Tech to kick off the Big 12 season. The opener will take place on Friday at 6:30 pm CST in Austin, as the Longhorns will look to continue their hot streak.