Kody Clemens (2) celebrates with Blair Henley (27) after Texas beat Oklahoma on April 8, 2017. Daulton Venglar/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Baseball

Behind Blair Henley and a lot of offense, Texas completes a Saturday sweep of Northwestern

Posted March 3rd, 2018

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Horns down, wins up.

In a game partially played in the rain, Texas quickly distanced itself from Northwestern in a 16-3 landslide at UFCU Disch-Falk Field. UT (7-4) had opened its day with a 10-7 conquest of the Wildcats (3-6). The doubleheader sweep avenged a 6-2 loss on Friday.

In the opener of this weekend’s four-game series, Northwestern outfielder David Dunn was seen celebrating with the “Horns Down” sign. The gesture did not go unnoticed by the home team.

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“We don’t like that, nobody likes that, especially as a Texan,” sophomore pitcher Blair Henley said. “That kind of really showed us how fired up they were after that win. We knew we had to come out and do our job and get that done.”

Texas spent the first 90 minutes of a game that lasted 3:25 knocking Northwestern around its wet canvas. Seven Longhorns combined to score 11 times over the game’s first three innings. Texas had matched its season-high score before its eighth out was recorded.

Texas produced only six hits over those three innings, but Kody Clemens and Masen Hibbeler made two of those swings count. Hibbeler’s two-run double gave Texas a 4-0 lead in the second inning. The following frame, Clemens clubbed a three-run homer.

Four of those 11 runs were also scored without Texas putting a bat on a ball. Thanks to a passed ball, UT leadoff hitter David Hamilton crossed home plate with the game’s first run. With the bases loaded in the third inning, two Northwestern relievers issued a walk, hit a batter and threw a run-scoring wild pitch on three straight pitches.

Texas went onto split its 10 hits between nine players. UT’s best offensive showing since a 17-1 win at Texas Tech on April 24, 2016 complemented the 10 runs it tallied in the day’s first game. Over the span of three doubleheaders in 2017, the Longhorns scored 26 runs.

“They have to understand what makes them successful. For the most part, it’s discipline,” Texas coach David Pierce said. “When you get in a game like tonight and the guy is not throwing a ton of strikes, that was a great sign for us to just stay within ourselves and take what they give us. Hopefully they do build off of it.”

Blair Henley throws a pitch at UFCU Disch-Falk Field on April 8, 2017. Daulton Venglar/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Texas’ three-inning tirade provided more than enough run support for Henley, who was the winning pitcher in last week’s 11-1 victory at LSU. Henley gave up two hits and no runs over a six-inning appearance. Henley struck out four Wildcats, and his only free pass was issued when he hit Dunn with a second-inning pitch.

Henley, who earned the Big 12’s Pitcher of the Week award on Monday, saw his ERA dip to 0.53.

“I didn’t have many strikeouts, but my defense, they do what they do and the results are going to come,” Henley said. The right-hander credited his success to the command of his fastball and his slider.

Around the bases: Texas and Northwestern will close out their four-game series at 1 p.m. on Sunday. Junior Matteo Bocchi will start for the Longhorns … Clemens extended his hitting streak to 11 games. … Hibbeler (left field, shortstop and third base) and Jake McKenzie (first base, third base and shortstop) each played three different positions. …. Freshman outfielder Kamron Fields, who had been slowed by an arm injury, scored three times in his first collegiate start.

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