Longhorns fall in season opener against Rice

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The crowd of 6,197 Longhorn fans roared as new head coach David Pierce stood nose to nose with the first base umpire to argue a borderline call Friday night.

Everyone in burnt orange believed freshman shortstop David Hamilton was safe at first base, but the umpire ruled him out.

Despite the Texas’ shared aggression throughout Friday night’s home opener against No. 25 Rice, they came up short by one run in a final score of 3-2 at UFCU Disch-Falk Field.

“I think we would like to have a few of those at bats back,” Pierce said. “But I think you got a taste of what our kids are capable of and I think it’s only going to get better.”

The Longhorns brought out their big bats to execute an aggressive offensive approach brought on by their new coaching staff. But Texas was unable to convert its seven hits into key runs to win the game.

Nevertheless, Texas still showed a hungry appetite for clutch offensive moments to change the pace of the game. In the bottom of the sixth inning, sophomore designated hitter Kody Clemens smashed a homerun into the Longhorn bullpen behind the rightfield fence to immediately respond to the Owls’ two-run rally during the top of the inning.

“I think it was the second strike on me, he threw me a fastball and I was a bit late on it,” Clemens said. “So in my mind I was still sitting heater. I knew he was going to come back with it and he just left it up and I just took my hand straight through it.”

The Longhorns also brought a tough defensive game to the field. Texas fans were on their feet after senior first baseman Kacy Clemens nearly performed the splits while catching a ball from Hamilton for a groundout to end the top of the fourth inning. Clemens proudly watched his teammates’ strong defensive outing from the dugout.

“It was unbelievable,” Clemens said. “(Hamilton is) an amazing player. Just sitting from the dugout watching him make those plays, it was great.”

Regardless of the result, Pierce still cherished the significance of his first game at the helm of the Longhorn program against a Rice team where he spent nine years as a hitting coach under current head coach Wayne Graham.

“It really was special and just great to be a part of this program,” Pierce said. “Of course, we would like to have won the game, but we’ve played one ballgame so we’ll be ready to go tomorrow.”