Kacy Clemens (hitting against Rice last week) had two homers against UConn on Friday. (Andy Nietupski for AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

Baseball

Texas bests UConn behind Clemens’ power and Cooper’s pitching

Kacy Clemens hits a pair of homers, and Morgan Cooper gives up one run in seven innings

Posted February 24th, 2017

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Story highlights
  • UConn ace Tim Cate is tough for three innings but leaves with an injury in the fourth.
  • The Longhorns improve their record to 4-2.

On Friday, Texas’ baseball fans received tacos and a win.

Junior pitcher Morgan Cooper out-performed UConn ace Tim Cate as Texas earned a 4-1 win at UFCU Disch-Falk Field. Cooper’s seven-inning effort was backed by two home runs from senior Kacy Clemens. The second of Clemens’ shots clanked off of Taco Shack’s free taco sign in right field.

After the game, Clemens said he told his father, Roger, that the postgame meal was on him.

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“I said, ‘Why are we going to pay for dinner? I provided it,'” joked Kacy Clemens, whose team improved to 4-2. “Tonight’s for me to provide dinner for once.”

Earlier this week, Texas coach David Pierce referred to Cate as a possible first-round pick in next year’s major league baseball draft. Equipped with a mystifying curveball, Cate kept UT stumped during a 51-pitch quiz over the game’s first three innings. Texas had struck out five times by the end of the third inning, and Michael Cantu had the team’s only hit.

With one out in the fourth, Cantu got the better of Cate again with a double to left field. Clemens then fouled off two two-strike offerings before homering into the Texas bullpen in right field. Cate faced two additional batters in the inning before a trainer came out to get him in the middle of Joe Baker’s at-bat.

“I was just trying to have a productive at-bat and get (Cantu) over somehow to get things going,” Clemens said.

Two innings after his two-run drive, Clemens hooked the fans up with tacos with his third home run of the young season. Clemens became the first Longhorn to hit two home runs in a game since C.J Hinojosa accomplished the feat at Baylor in 2015.

“He has a great approach; he knows what he can hit and what he can’t hit,” UT coach David Pierce said. “He’s pretty aggressive in the zone on balls that he can handle. He got a couple of balls after his first at-bat that he was ready for.”

The drives made a winner of Cooper, who did not earn a decision in Texas’ season-opening loss to Rice. Cooper allowed four hits and a run against the Huskies on Friday. One week after he struck out six Rice batters, the right-handed junior tied a career-high with eight strikeouts.

“Me personally, I had to come in here and I’m not going to get embarrassed,” Cooper said of his duel with Cate. “You’ve got to be on top of your game and know that the guy across from you is pretty good. I think it makes you focus a little bit more. You know going into it it’s going to be a battle, and I think it makes you better.”

Cooper is the fourth starter to win a game for Texas this season.

Rounding the bases:  Sidelined at the beginning of the season with a hamstring injury, senior Zane Gurwitz returned to center field Friday. Gurwitz was 0 for 4 but completed a double play in the fourth inning by throwing out a runner at third base. … On Saturday afternoon, Kyle Johnston (1-0, 1.50 ERA) will start for Texas against UConn’s William Montgomerie (1-0, 3.00). Both juniors are right-handed. … Texas sophomore Chase Shugart got the game’s final two outs and his first save of the season.

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