Following a nine-day layoff, Texas shook the rust off its bats in a 10-3 win over Incarnate Word at UFCU Disch-Falk Field on Tuesday.
The mid-week pasting was a tune-up for Texas, which closes out its regular season this weekend with a three-game homestand against West Virginia. With seeding in the Big 12 tournament at stake, Texas trails a fourth-place trio of West Virginia, Baylor and Kansas by 1.5 games.
“One thing we talked about is the West Virginia series means nothing if we don’t take care of business tonight,” Texas coach David Pierce said. “They understand the meaning of this weekend and where we are positioned. They know we’re not going to win the conference, but we’re in a great position as far as RPI and on the national scene.”
On a 13-run night in Austin, Incarnate Word (20-33) scored first on David Anaya’s solo home run. After tying the game in the first inning’s bottom half, Texas (32-19) then sprinted ahead.
Texas batted nine times in the second inning, and two of those at-bats belonged to Michael Cantu and Kacy Clemens. Cantu broke the 1-1 tie with a two-run blast. Clemens later drove in his team-leading 37th and 38th runs on a bases-loaded single.
“Of course, we feel in control, but for a while it was within reach for them,” Cantu said. “We never felt comfortable, and we (were) always trying to push the pedal down and get more runs.”
Leading 5-1 after two innings, Texas cruised to its 25th win at home. The Longhorns added two run-scoring doubles in the third inning, and Patrick Mathis hit a two-run homer as Texas scored three times in the eighth. Texas split its 15 hits among eight players, and the Longhorns doubled six times.
Those 10 runs supported a heptathlon of Longhorn pitchers. Nick Kennedy started and struck out four over four innings of two-hit, one-run baseball. Texas went through three pitchers in the fifth inning, but Connor Mayes, Blair Henley, Chase Shugart and Beau Ridgeway were able to close out the game.
Kennedy was announced as the declared starter before the game, so the sophomore left-hander was still credited with the win even though he was pulled before the fifth inning. Kennedy improved to 8-1, and his ERA dipped to 2.47. Since 2012, only three Texas pitchers have won eight games in a single season.
Rounding the bases: Cantu and Mathis both hit their fifth home runs of the season. … Incarnate Word began playing on the Division I level in 2014, so this was only its second game against Texas. The Longhorns beat Incarnate Word 7-1 in 2015. … Among Texas’ 10 batters, Travis Jones and Ryan Reynolds were the only hitless Longhorns. Jones, however, drove in Texas’ first run on a sacrifice fly, and Reynolds walked twice … Nine Longhorns were placed on the Big 12’s all-academic team on Tuesday. Boswell, Cantu, Jones, Morgan Cooper, Michael McCann and Jake McKenzie were all first-team honorees.