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Texas outfielder Tate Shaw (4) smiles as he crosses home plate against Lamar on Feb. 21, 2018. NICK WAGNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Baseball

Was an undershirt the MVP of Texas’ NCAA super regional?

Posted June 13th, 2018

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Mark Payton last played baseball at Texas during the 2014 season. That, though, doesn’t mean he isn’t still making contributions at his alma mater.

Texas’ Ryan Reynolds connects for a double against Tennessee Tech on June 11, 2018. (Stephen Spillman / for American-Statesman)

According to junior infielder Kody Clemens, Payton left behind a burnt orange undershirt when he departed UT. That undershirt was kept in the possession of Kacy Clemens for the next three seasons. After Kacy was drafted by the Blue Jays in 2017, he gifted the garment to his younger brother.

Kody Clemens, however, says he is not a superstitious guy. So, he gave the undershirt to Ryan Reynolds to wear in the decisive game of its NCAA super regional against Tennessee Tech on Monday. Reynolds doubled home two runs in the second inning, and he later handed the undershirt off to outfielder Tate Shaw.

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Shaw and Reynolds, who were hitting eighth and ninth in UT’s batting order, combined for four hits, two runs and two RBIs. Texas earned a 5-2 win over Tennessee Tech. Before Monday’s game, Shaw and Reynolds had been 2-for-14 against the Golden Eagles.

Read more: An oral history of Mark Payton’s national-record on-base streak at Texas

Payton led Texas in batting average during the 2013 and 2014 seasons. Over his final two seasons, Payton also reached base in 101 straight games. Monday’s victory advanced Texas to the College World Series for the first time since Payton’s Longhorns appeared in 2014.

Texas will meet Arkansas in its opener at the College World Series on Sunday afternoon. Who will wear Payton’s old undershirt when UT reunites with the Razorbacks? Said Clemens: “I don’t know. We might be changing every single at-bat.”

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