The Texas baseball team has started 2-1 under new coach David Pierce. The Horns will face Rice again Sunday afternoon. RICARDO B.BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Baseball

Texas bounces back from season-opening loss with doubleheader sweep

Longhorns beat Rice 5-4 and 6-1 to give David Pierce his first two victories as UT coach.

Posted February 18th, 2017

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Story highlights
  • Texas found multiple ways to score in the opener and then cruised in the nightcap.
  • The Horns will play Rice in the series finale at noon Sunday.

After opening its season with a loss, Texas stuck around the winner’s circle on Saturday.

The Longhorns used two strong starts on the mound and a diverse offense in 5-4 and 6-1 wins over Rice on Saturday. With the two triumphs at UFCU Disch-Falk Field — the first of which was a seven-inning game — Texas improved to 2-1 this spring. On Friday, the Longhorns were beaten 3-2 by the Owls in their first game of the season.

“I thought we were outstanding all day,” said head coach David Pierce, who earned his first two wins at Texas. “It’s tough to sweep a doubleheader in college baseball, especially against a great opponent like Rice. I’m just proud of the kids, the way they stayed focused all day.”

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One day after recording a home run and a sacrifice fly, Texas got creative on offense in the opener of the doubleheader. UT found four different ways to score during bases-loaded situations in the third and sixth innings. How exactly did the Longhorns turn a 1-0 deficit into a 5-1 lead?

  • Travis Jones was hit by a pitch in the third.
  • Kody Clemens grounded out in the third and was hit by a pitch in the sixth.
  • Austin Todd drew a walk in the sixth.
  • David Hamilton singled in the sixth.

The Longhorns manufactured those five runs during a seven-inning stretch in which they only collected six hits, none of which were for extra bases. The bulk of the hits were by the bottom of the Longhorns’ batting order as Kacy Clemens, Todd and Hamilton — the seventh, eighth and ninth hitters in the lineup — were 4 for 6 with three walks. The rest of the Longhorns drew two walks and were 2 for 17 at the plate.

Kacy Clemens had a home run and an RBI single in the nightcap, and Michael McCann delivered a run-producing hit. The Longhorns also crossed the plate on an error, a passed ball and another bases-loaded walk.

“That’s what we’d like to be, a team that can actually score multiple ways,” Pierce said. “I think we exemplified that today.”

Texas was outhit 19-13 by Rice on Saturday, but nine Longhorns got a hit. Six different Longhorns scored.

“Offensively, I think everybody did a good job,” said Jones, a junior outfielder. “We gave away a few here and there, but I think, as a team, we did an excellent job just grinding through at-bats and competing at the plate.”

Picking up wins for the Longhorns on Saturday were junior Kyle Johnston and freshman Blair Henley. Johnston struck out six in the first game, and he escaped several jams during his six-inning outing. The first three Owls who faced Henley reached base, but the newcomer settled down and struck out eight before he was replaced after the fifth frame.

“The first inning was rough. I didn’t really have all of my stuff,” Henley said. “I was pretty jittery. After that, I settled down and started doing what I usually do, throw how I do and not really let all the hype get to me.”

Johnston and Henley both ended their nights with 5-1 leads. Rice made a run at Johnston’s win, though.

To close out the first game, Rice scored three times in the top of the seventh inning. With two outs and runners on first and second base, Texas reliever Beau O’Hara was called upon in a save situation. Brad Gneiting singled an O’Hara offering into left field, but Jones threw out pinch-runner Dayne Wunderlich at the plate.

“I felt pretty good out of the hand,” Jones said. “Halfway through, I kind of saw where he was at, saw where the ball was at and I kind of felt like I already had him out.”

Rounding the bases: Back-to-back bunts in the first game gave Todd and Hamilton the first hits of their college careers. Todd is a graduate of Round Rock High, while Hamilton hails from nearby San Marcos. … Kacy Clemens, who hit his seventh career home run, was responsible for four hits, four runs and two walks in the doubleheader. … Due to the threat of inclement weather, the start of Sunday’s finale with Rice was move to noon. Texas junior Connor Mayes is scheduled to throw against Rice sophomore Zach Esquivel, who picked up a two-out save Friday.

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