Flashes of burnt orange and white circled the bases at UFCU Disch-Falk Field Sunday afternoon.
But the runners tagging the plates were merely Longhorn fans participating in a “kids run the bases” activity after the game had already ended in a 7-1 loss to Rice. Redshirt junior second baseman Bret Boswell launched a solo home run in the fifth inning, but he was the only Longhorn to round the bases during the match. Sunday’s loss evened the weekend series at 2-2.
“We’re very disappointed,” head coach David Pierce said. “We didn’t do things well today in one inning that costed us the game.”
Rice posted five runs in the sixth inning that required four Longhorn pitchers to find a way to stop the bleeding. Senior first baseman Kacy Clemens, who was the only Longhorn to record multiple hits in the game, was not satisfied with a series tie against the Owls.
“We don’t take 2 out of 4,” Kacy Clemens said. “(Do) you come in here to win half the games or do you come in here to win all the games? I’m pretty sure anybody who plays this game wants to win every single game they play. If they don’t, then they shouldn’t be playing the game.”
Junior pitcher Connor Mayes brought the heat with six strikes in a seven-pitch affair during the first inning. The right-handed launcher shared control of the game with Rice’s sophomore pitcher Zach Esquivel until sophomore catcher Dominic DiCaprio struck in the fourth inning with a RBI double to get the Owls on the board first.
“I thought Esquivel — he’s not a big velocity guy, but he really threw the ball in and out and changed speeds as well as he could do and really locate it,” Pierce said. “When you do that, you usually win.”
Mayes hoped to find his rhythm during the sixth inning, but the Owls had other plans. Rice batters stung the Longhorns with a pair of RBI doubles and two rounds of loaded bases until junior pitcher Tyler Schimpf found the final out of the inning.
Texas hoped to bounce back from the damage but couldn’t find the ball enough to mitigate early mistakes.
“I thought the back side of the bullpen was not good at all,” Pierce said “If we don’t improve that, we’re not going to do well in the latter part of the innings.”
Bats were swinging earlier in the weekend for the Longhorns. Sophomore designated hitter Kody Clemens kicked off a new season of scoring for the Longhorns with a homer to the right field bullpen during Friday night’s home opener. His brother, Kacy, matched this with a bomb over the left field fence during Saturday night’s 6-1 win. The senior first baseman showcased a perfect 3-for-3 hit night with a pair of RBI for the burnt orange.
“We actually talked about that,” Kacy Clemens said. “After I hit that one, (Kody) goes, ‘You’ve always got to come catch up with me, huh?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I’m not going to let you get out there too far.’”
The Longhorns hope to rely on the offensive production that comes with the Clemens brothers’ friendly sibling rivalry moving forward.
“We’re going to build off this weekend,” Kacy Clemens said. “I think there were definitely some bright spots that are promising and I think that’s what we’re going to focus on moving forward. We’ve just got to swing the bats better.”