David Pierce’s second season will be a banner year for Texas Longhorns baseball, as the ‘Horns have clinched at least a share (and likely more) of the Big 12 regular season title.
Texas (37-18, 17-7 Big 12) completed the sweep of TCU (30-22, 10-13 Big 12) on Saturday afternoon, defeating the Horned Frogs 7-3 in the regular season finale at the Disch.
The Longhorns came into the weekend with little chance of securing the top spot in the Big 12, much less the outright title. Texas was two games behind Oklahoma State, but the Cowboys lost the first two games to Texas Tech in Stillwater giving the ‘Horns an opening. At the time of publishing, Texas Tech is only two outs away from beating Oklahoma State, as the game is 7-3 with one out in the bottom of the ninth in a rain delay.
If the Red Raiders complete the win, Texas will have its first outright Big 12 championship since 2010.
It’s not something a Longhorns fan will say much, but thanks, Tech. Texas, of course, did its part as well.
After a dramatic Kody Clemens walk-off homer last night, Clemens continued his historic season with home run No. 19 in the bottom of the first. The homer scored Hamilton, who had reached on a leadoff single, to put Texas up 2-0.
Texas starter Blair Henley faced some issues with command, but rolled through the first two innings. Henley, however, faltered in the third giving up a solo homer to make it 2-1. The sophomore was able to evade further trouble — thanks in part to a double play — despite giving up three walks in the inning.
Henley looked to be locking in in the fourth, as he notched a strikeout to start the frame, but his inconsistency returned. After a runner reached first on a throwing error by Hamilton that took first baseman Jake McKenzie off the bag, the runner moved to second on a sac bunt, and then scored on an RBI single to knot the score at 2-2. Henley then walked the next two batters and was pulled in favor of Kamron Fields.
Henley’s final line: 3.2 innings pitched, 2 runs (1 earned), 2 hits, 6 walks, and 4 strikeouts.
Fields then walked the next batter to load the bases, but got out of the inning on a foul out.
The ‘Horns fought back, as Texas has tended to do this season at the plate. Masen Hibbeler got the bottom of the fourth started with a leadoff double, and Ryan Reynolds knocked him home with an RBI in single to quickly put Texas back up 3-2. DJ Petrinsky continued the inning’s magic, as he knocked an off-the-wall triple to score Reynolds 4-2 with still no outs.
Tate Shaw was then retired on a grounder to first and failed to score Petrinsky, and McKenzie was walked. Hamilton then hit a hard grounder that the first baseman couldn’t play to score Petrinsky and put runners on first and second with the score at 5-2 Texas.
Duke Ellis came up and knocked a single to score both McKenzie and (somehow) Hamilton and make the score 7-2. That would be the last of the damage for the inning, but the game had been broken open with a five run Texas lead.
Fields then earned two straight 1-2-3 innings, but Texas’ offense couldn’t extend the lead despite a one-out triple for Hamilton in the bottom of the sixth.
Fields faced much more trouble in the seventh, as he loaded the bases with one out after two singles and a walk. The freshman, however, got out of it on a double play grounder to third.
Lefty Josh Sawyer came on in the top of the eighth with an opportunity to pitch on his senior day. Sawyer allowed a solo shot to make the score 7-3, but got out of the inning with no further damage.
After nothing doing for the ‘Horns in the bottom of the eighth, fellow senior and closer Andy McGuire came on to finish the game. McGuire got it done to give Texas the 7-3 win and the Big 12 title.
The ‘Horns will next return to action in the Big 12 tournament, which will begin Wednesday at 12:30 pm in Oklahoma City against the Kansas Jayhawks.