On Tuesday, Texas Longhorns senior first baseman Kacy Clemens tried to take a nap to rest up for the first appearance by the Texas A&M Aggies at UFCU-Disch Falk Field since 2012.
It didn’t go so well.
After all, the ‘Horns were about ready to play the biggest midweek game in recent memory as part of what remains a fierce rivalry.
“I was so fired up to get to the field,” Clemens said after the hard-fought 4-3 victory.
Turned out, the rest was less important than the focus that Clemens brought with him to the ballpark that had kept him from napping in the first place.
“When I showed up I just got super locked in and wanted to give everything I got,” he said.
And the fiery senior did exactly that, and a little bit more, even.
After the Aggies scored on a balk in the fourth inning, Clemens took advantage of a Texas A&M balk to drive in freshman shortstop David Hernandez from second base on a sharply-hit single to center field.
Having advanced to second on the throw home, Clemens took a look at the A&M dugout, and did a little dance mocking Aggie second baseman Braden Shewmake, capping it off with a sneer (:49 second mark of the video above).
The rivalry is alive and healthy, y’all.
When the Aggies starting wildly throwing the ball around the field, Clemens scored on freshman center fielder Austin Todd’s bunt attempt.
But since the Texas A&M catcher was busily engaged in amateur hour, having dropped his face mask right on the plate in anticipation of the throw, Clemens punted it towards the Texas dugout as he scored.
Well, perhaps it was more of an onside kick, but it certainly provided another exclamation point on the big inning for Clemens.
At the plate, Clemens later drew a walk and doubled to left center. However, his biggest further contribution to the final result came in the eight inning.
With the ‘Horns having already given up two runs thanks to a bases-loaded walk by junior pitcher Kyle Johnston as a result of two previous walks and a single, sophomore Beau Ridgeway entered the game in relief.
After inducing a ground out that cut the lead to 4-3, head coach David Pierce put on a play to stop the safety squeeze he anticipated from his counterpart Rob Childress.
“We didn't call it at first and then I looked over there and he put it on late,” Clemens said. “So right when the pitcher kicked up, I looked home, he squared the bunt, and I'm just hauling to get the ball and looking to get a good play on it. Michael was there to catch a big toss and that was a big out.”
The play took Clemens towards the A&M dugout, towards which he briefly directed his celebration, though it was hardly mocking this time. No, this was the celebration of a truly game-changing play.
And, indeed, the out was huge for the ‘Horns, as it gave Ridgeway the opportunity to get out of the inning, which he did by securing a popup to third base.
Along with the clutch relief pitching from Ridgeway and sophomore Chase Shugart, who got the final two outs with a runner on second base, Clemens was the star of the night in a big win for Texas.
“I think for our program and our mentality, it's huge,” Pierce said. “It's not just another Tuesday night, and we'd be kidding ourselves if it is. It's a great builder for our program and for our players. I feel like they can compete and beat anybody in the country.”
For Clemens, it certainly wasn’t another Tuesday night, though he did spend the immediate aftermath of the win with a subdued trip through the post-game handshake line before directing his celebratory efforts to the fans behind the Texas dugout.
“For the result to be there is very rewarding, so it does feel good,” Clemens concluded in an understatement that belied his in-game intensity.