The Longhorns have a Ryan Reynolds of their own, and although his performance didn’t win an Oscar last night, it was pivotal in Texas’ game-three victory over Connecticut at UFCU Disch-Falk Field.
The freshman third baseman didn’t star in any Oscar-nominated films, but he did show his versatility at the plate in the 9-3 win on Sunday afternoon.
Reynolds started the game by blasting a pitch over the left field fence, allowing Texas to jump out to the early 2-0 lead.
“It felt good,” Reynolds said. “But it didn’t feel as good as getting our team up on top first and getting some runs for Blair (Henley) and the rest of our pitchers.”
But Reynolds’ trot around the bases wasn’t nearly as smooth as his swing. The Huskies fired the ball to home plate in an attempt to throw out freshman shortstop David Hamilton after the ball bounced back into the field.
Reynolds was stuck at second base as the crowd erupted in confusion. Soon after, the umpires ruled it a two-run homer, allowing him to continue the awkward trot a few seconds later.
“I kind of hit it and I didn’t know if it was going to stay fair because it was kind of hooking,” Reynolds said. “I was just running, I didn’t even know it went out, so it was kind of a shock to me too.”
Reynolds was hit by a pitch during his following at bat, and senior first baseman Kacy Clemens followed that up with a shot that almost cleared the fence, but ricocheted off the center field wall.
Reynolds, who was on first, rounded the bases and slid safely into home plate, but it wasn’t exactly well executed. Reynolds’ head awkwardly bounced off the turf as his hand scraped across the plate, and his teammates were sure to let him know about it afterwards.
“They were just making fun of me about it in the clubhouse, just how I face planted,” Reynolds said. “But hey, they called me safe, so I’m happy about it.”
Freshman pitcher Blair Henley got the start, but had a rough day. Henley gave up two runs on six hits in just 2.1 innings. But junior Jake McKenzie, who’s earned run average was 54.00 going into the afternoon, had a much better outing. The right-handed pitcher threw for four strikeouts, while only allowing one hit in 4.2 innings.
“Jake McKenzie was the player, pitcher of the day. There’s no doubt,” head coach David Pierce said. “Both teams were very aggressive, it looked like it could potentially be a big offensive day, and he did a great job of settling in and just coming in and eating up innings … he pretty much held them at bay.”
The game-three win sealed Texas’ first series victory of the season. After striking out at the plate 17 times in their 2-1 loss on Saturday afternoon, the Longhorns had Smokey the Cannon going off early and often in their last outing of the weekend.
The combination of the explosive offense and dominant pitching displayed on Sunday afternoon have left the Longhorns quite confident going into Tuesday’s matchup with Lamar.
“The bats came alive today, which was nice to see,” McKenzie said. “We got nine runs up there, we should win if we score nine runs, that’s a given. I think we can roll from here.”