Texas’ present beat its past Saturday, and now the Longhorns can start focusing on the future.
DJ Petrinsky’s and Ryan Reynolds’ home runs were the only offense needed in UT’s annual alumni game. The blasts at UFCU Disch-Falk Field — coupled with solid performances on the mound — led UT’s Orange squad to a 3-0 win over a Gray team stacked with current and past players.
The seven-inning scrimmage was Texas’ last public appearance before its season opener against Louisiana-Lafayette on Feb. 16.
“Whenever you see the alumni game, you think, ‘All right, after that it’s just basically the season,’ ” said Reynolds, a sophomore first baseman. “It gets closer and closer.”
Only active UT pitchers were used Saturday, and those 12 arms allowed nine hits and six walks. Only freshman Bryce Elder and junior Chase Shugart went two innings as UT coach David Pierce said he will begin extending his pitchers this week. Texas did not use expected ace Nolan Kingham or reliever Bryce Verplank.
“I think we’ve got a couple of younger guys that really have (an) arsenal. They don’t have big velocity, but they’ve got stuff when it comes to secondary pitches,” Pierce said. “I thought they threw really well.”
A transfer from Hill College, Petrinsky introduced himself to Texas fans with a solo shot in the fourth inning. In the final half-inning, Reynolds sealed the scoring summary with a two-run homer.
Defensively, neither team committed an error. Texas also turned a double play with a new-look infield that retained David Hamilton at shortstop but started newcomer Masen Hibbeler at second base and Reynolds, an ex-third baseman who hadn’t played first base before this season. Last year, Texas’ 65 double plays ranked fourth nationally.
“(We want to do) better than we did last year,” Reynolds said. “The guys we have that come and fill it up … they’re as good or better than we had last year.”
Although a new season will start in two weeks, plenty of reminders of last year’s 39-24 campaign were spotted on campus Saturday.
First baseman Kacy Clemens went 1-for-2, but the Toronto Blue Jay was appearing as a former Horn for the first time. Zane Gurwitz, an Angels prospect who started 32 times in UT’s outfield last season, was the alumni team’s shortstop for three innings. Patrick Mathis was still wearing orange in right field, but he’s now in the Houston Astros’ farm system.
Morgan Cooper, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ second-round pick who had his high school jersey retired in Jarrell on Friday, did not pitch but was in attendance. He was joined in the alumni dugout by Kyle Johnston (Nationals), Jon Malmin (Angels) and Connor Mayes (Royals). Those four pitchers logged 204.1 innings on the mound for Texas in 2017.
— Kurt Bradley (@kurtbradley) February 3, 2018
Most of the alumni were pulled from the scrimmage by the fourth inning. Veteran major leaguer Drew Stubbs participated in the annual event, as did ex-Longhorns Mark Payton and Tres Barrera. In the sixth inning, former Texas pitcher Travis Duke pinch-hit while wearing jeans and boots.