On April 5, 2015, Texas Longhorns baseball was shut out by the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders in a 5-0 home loss.
It was a low point at the end of the Augie Garrido era, as the then-11-16 Islanders held the Longhorns to only five hits in the game.
Fast forward two years later, and Texas baseball is in a more comfortable place. Sure, the pitching is less consistent than ‘Horns fans have grown to expect, but David Pierce’s team has enough offense to pull out many of the games it is supposed to win.
That offense came through on Tuesday night, as three Texas homers helped Longhorns baseball (19-12) defeat Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (16-14) 9-3 in a mid-week game at Whataburger field in Corpus Christi.
Texas got on the board with its second batter of the game, as Masen Hibbeler knocked a solo shot in the top of the first. David Hamilton pushed the score to 2-0 after a two-out RBI single scored Kody Clemens, who had walked earlier in the inning. Zach Zubia and Jake McKenzie then made it three singles in a row to score Hamilton and bring the score to 3-0.
A McKenzie RBI groundout in the third made it 4-0 Texas.
With Blair Henley on the hill for the ‘Horns, Texas never looked back after the early lead. The sophomore righty Henley had some struggles with command early, as he hit a batter in the first and second innings.
Henley, however, was able to dial it in and struck out three in his three scoreless innings pitched. The brief midweek appearance gave Henley the opportunity to regain his mojo while still remaining fresh enough to pitch later this weekend against Baylor.
Michael McCann led off the fourth inning with the first home run of his career to push the score to 5-0.
Freshman righty Nico O’Donnell took the mound in the bottom of the inning with a five-run lead. In his two innings pitched, O’Donnell faced the minimum six batters despite giving up two hits, as he got a batter in both innings to ground into a double play.
If the door wasn’t already closed for the Islanders, the Longhorns sealed it shut in the top of the sixth inning. The inning began with Duke Ellis reaching first on a throwing error, and then a Michael McCann bunt single put runners on first and second. A Tate Shaw sac bunt put runners on second and third, and then Hibbeler drew a walk to load the bases with one out.
Kody Clemens then stepped to the plate and launched a grand slam to right field. It was Clemens’ eighth dinger of the year, and it put the ‘Horns up 9-0.
Freshman Kamron Fields replaced O’Donnell to start the bottom of the sixth and turned in two scoreless innings. Despite allowing a hit and three walks in his 1.1 innings pitched against Kansas State last weekend, Fields still holds a 0.00 ERA across his five appearances and 7.1 innings pitched this season.
Texas closer Beau Ridgeway, however, still continued his season-long issues when he came on to try to finish the game. Though Ridgeway had a scoreless eighth inning, he ran into trouble in the final frame.
With one out, the junior hit a batter, walked another, and then allowed a single to end the shut out and put the Islanders on the board with the score 9-1. The next batter also notched an RBI single, bringing the score to 9-2. Ridgeway was then able to get a groundout to put Texas one out away from victory, but then walked the next batter.
Bryce Elder then took over for Ridgeway to seal the deal. Yet another single gave the Islanders a final run, but then the freshman Elder struck out the next batter looking to end the game.
The 9-3 victory puts Texas’ season record thus far at a respectable 19-12, putting the ‘Horns at No. 38 on the Boyd’s World Iterative Strength rankings. Texas will face off with the Baylor Bears this weekend in a three-game home conference series. Baylor is on a four-game losing streak and currently sits at 14-13 with a 3-6 record in conference.
Keep an eye out for a weekend preview coming up for the Baylor series this weekend. Hook ‘Em!