The Texas Longhorns (21-12, 8-3) won their fifth straight game after closing out a 2-0 victory over the visiting Baylor Bears (14-15, 3-8) at UFCU Disch-Falk Field on Saturday. In a game that was equally as void of offensive highlights as sunshine and warm weather in Austin, good pitching and great defense carried the ‘Horns to a series-clinching win over the Bears.
To start the game, Chase Shugart took the mound, looking to rebound from his previous start at Kansas State in which he gave up five earned runs in six innings. Shugart allowed a lead-off single through the left side, but a nifty 3-6-3 double play between 1B Jake McKenzie and SS David Hamilton got the ‘Horns their first two outs of the game. Shugart walked one more batter in the first, but get a fly out to center to leave the inning without giving up a run.
In the bottom of the inning, Texas broke the stalemate and added a run to the board. After back-to-back groundouts from David Hamilton and Mason Hibbeler, Kody “Mideseason All-American” Clemens blasted a home run to right field, putting the Longhorns up 1-0. The home run was his ninth on the season, leading all other Big 12 hitters.
.@kodyclem just keeps doing the thing. #HookEm pic.twitter.com/2PpXsoC3YU— Texas Baseball (@TexasBaseball) April 7, 2018
The next, last, and only other scoring event took place in the third inning, A lead-off double from DJ Petrinsky was followed by outs from Tate Shaw and Hibbeler, bringing Clemens up to the plate with two outs. Clemens slapped a ground ball over to the Baylor shortstop, who shanked the routine play to first and overthrew the first baseman, allowing Clemens to reach and DJ Petrinsky to score, pushing the lead to 2-0. Just like in the first inning, a Ryan Reynolds out then ended the inning for the ‘Horns after Clemens brought in a run.
From there, the game became mostly about Shugart and how far he could go. He continued to pitch well for the most part, but definitely got some help on the defensive end to make his job easier. The Longhorns were able to record two double plays behind Shugart (three total on the day), and some great highlight reel moments helped Shugart stay on top of the Bears despite walking five to only striking out one.
After throwing seven shutout innings and 120 pitches on the day, Kamron Fields was called upon to start the eighth inning, ending Shugart’s day.
Chase Shugart: 7.0 IP, 5 H, 5 BB, 1 K, 0 ER, 120 Pitches
Fields began his inning of work suffering a Ryan Reynolds error that allowed the lead-off batter to reach first. However, the next better lined out to McKenzie for an unassisted double play. After issuing a walk to the next hitter, Fields struck out the next Bear on a full count to get out of the inning without allowing a run.
After another scoreless inning from UT, Pierce called on Andy McGuire to close the game for the ‘Horns in the top of the ninth. Though McGuire gave up a single in the inning, he was able to induce a ground out and two pop flies to close the door on Baylor and secure the shut out win for Texas.
With the win, Texas added to their current win streak with their fifth straight victory, and continued what is currently the second best start in Big 12 play with their eighth conference win. The 2-0 win might look on the surface like a dominating pitchers’ duel, but really the zero was supplied by the defense and Baylor’s inability to bring in runners on base.
As I’ve written above, the Texas defense was lights out — outside of a Reynolds error in the eighth inning (that was immediately erased with a double play), Texas didn’t make any mistakes on the defensive end tonight.
On Baylor’s front, to the team’s credit, they were able to put runners on base to challenge the Longhorns. However, whether it was hitting into double plays, or leaving ten runners on base to end innings, the Bears were never able to capitalize when they got people on.
The Longhorns will look to close out the series sweep against the Bears tomorrow afternoon at UFCU Disch-Falk Field. First pitch is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. CT, and you can catch the game on Longhorn Network or 104.9 The Horn.
BONUS HIGHLIGHT: Michael Dickson throws out the ceremonial first pitch that just landed him on the Texas Rangers’ draft board.
We heard he's accurate and it was most definitely a strike. Thanks for coming, @mdcksn! #ThisIsTexas #HookEm pic.twitter.com/7RWz1Dj2Ex— Texas Baseball (@TexasBaseball) April 7, 2018
Get the brooms ready tomorrow.