Only half an inning had been played before the fans at Disch-Falk Field rose in a standing ovation.
It had been nearly 30 years since Roger Clemens took to the mound in a Longhorns uniform but the two-time All-American and seven-time Cy Young Award winner toed the rubber in his vintage Texas jersey again Saturday. Clemens, who went 25-7 in two seasons for the Longhorns and helped them capture the 1983 College World Series title, retired Texas in the first inning while fanning the first two batters he faced.
“It's pretty cool to get a chance to face [Clemens]. It's the chance of a lifetime,” sophomore outfielder Mark Payton said, who flew out to center field against Clemens to end the top of the first. “He threw [Cohl Walla and Taylor Stell] two good sliders late in the at-bat and that's why I wanted to jump out on his fastball. He's got good movement.”
Clemens was one of nine alumni pitchers to throw scoreless innings Saturday afternoon, as the alumni team he and former Longhorns star Brooks Kieschnick coached, took down the current Texas baseball squad, 2-0.
“Getting to catch Roger Clemens was something pretty special,” Cameron Rupp said, a catcher with the Philadelphia Phillies who went 2-for-3. “Seven Cy Youngs, strikes out a million people, he's got good stuff and he's 45-years-old.”
The offense came from an unlikely source, as recently traded San Diego Padres closer Huston Street sparked a two-run eighth-inning rally. Street sat down three hitters in a row in the second inning but returned to the contest at second base in the bottom of the sixth inning, cleanly fielding a routine ground ball and throwing the runner out at first.
“I came into the game planning to throw no more than 10 pitches,” Street said. “But I just came out here to have fun. It's such a fun game to come back to be a part of and be a part of baseball, having fun with the guys, passing on the tradition because when those guys cross over these lines, they're going to emulate the actions they see.”
In the top of the next frame, Street grounded out to shortstop, which should have been his only plate appearance. But the 2002 College World Series MVP batted twice out of order, including in the eighth inning when he singled into center-field and scored the first run on a Kevin Keyes RBI single. Kyle Russell tacked on another run by driving in Tant Shepherd with a single of his own.
“I'll take it,” Street said, whose last hit in a meaningful game came nearly a decade ago during his junior year at Texas. “I don't pretend to be a hitter. I'm not trying to be a hitter. Sometimes, you swing the bat and a swinging bat is dangerous. The other guys drove me in and I'm happy.”