Texas's Kody Clemens throws to second as New Orleans's Samuel Capielano attempts to outrun the ball on Saturday, April 22, 2017. DEBORAH CANNON / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Baseball

Texas prepares for a road trip as healthy Horns spark a sweep of New Orleans

Posted April 23rd, 2017

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With its weekend-closing 3-2 win over New Orleans on Sunday, Texas improved to 23-7 at UFCU Disch-Falk Field.

Now it’s time to hit the road.

Leadoff hitter Patrick Mathis drove in all four of Texas’ runs as the Longhorns completed a non-conference sweep with their second straight one-run victory over New Orleans. Seven of Texas’ next eight games are on the road, a stretch includes three-game series at Oklahoma State and TCU. Texas (28-15) also will face Louisiana Lafayette on Tuesday at Sugar Land’s Constellation Field.

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“We’ve won tough games, we’ve lost tough games and we’re really going to play some tough games coming up,” said Texas senior Zane Gurwitz. “It will really test what we’ve been building up this entire season.”

Texas was hitless through four innings Sunday, but the Longhorns still held a 1-0 lead when Gurwitz singled off New Orleans starter Riley Hodge with an out in the fifth frame. Two innings before that single, Gurwitz stole second after he was hit by a pitch. He then moved around the bases on a bunt and a groundout.

Gurwitz scored again in the fifth on Mathis’ two-run double. Gurwitz, who has been hampered throughout his senior season by a hamstring injury, reached base in all three of his plate appearances Sunday. He also stole two bases.

Gurwitz re-aggravated his hamstring injury against Texas A&M on March 14, sidelining him until April. In his first nine games back, Gurwitz had been 3 for 25. Texas coach David Pierce said it wasn’t until recently that his center fielder realized he needed to “catch his breath and just have fun playing baseball.”

“I was putting all this extra pressure on myself, and it was unneeded pressure. It was causing me to do uncharacteristic things,” Gurwitz said.

Patrick Mathis (#33) hit foul ball in a game of the Texas A&M University versus the University of Texas at UFCU Disch-Falk Field in Austin, Texas on March 14, 2017 (Andy Nietupski for AMERICAN STATESMAN)

Thanks to two run-scoring doubles and a RBI single, New Orleans (19-21) tied Sunday’s game by the seventh-inning stretch. The first two batters that Texas sent to the plate in the seventh inning’s bottom half — Michael Cantu and Gurwitz — were both plunked, which led to a sacrifice fly by Mathis.

Atop Texas’ order thanks to his .409 on-base percentage, Mathis had only eight RBIs this season. Sunday, however, was only Mathis’ 27th game as his season had been slowed by a leg injury that was also suffered in that 4-3 victory against Texas A&M.

“I just stick to my approach and do what I do,” said Mathis, a junior outfielder. “Whatever Coach tells me to do is what I’m going to do for the team.”

The pitcher of record for Texas was Nolan Kingham, who threw 2.2 innings of one-hit relief. Typically the series-opening starter for Texas, Kingham was benched on Friday for “academic reasons.” Two days later, the right-hander struck out three in his fifth win of the year.

UT shortstop David Hamilton, right, completes a double play against UConn’s Isaac Feldstein in the third inning at UFCU Disch-Falk Field on Sunday February 26, 2017. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Rounding the bases: Among the NCAA’s best at turning two, Texas recorded its 45th and 46th double plays. Nation-leading San Diego State entered the day with 48 double plays. … Texas was three-hit by New Orleans, which has a 4.67 ERA. Kody Clemens collected the Longhorns’ other hit, a sixth-inning single. … Texas stole four bases, which tied a season-high. … Nate Boyer, the Green Beret and ex-long snapper at Texas, threw out the first pitch and spoke to the baseball team before Sunday’s game.

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