Senior first baseman Kacy Clemens stood in his usual batting stance on the left side of home plate to face Sam Houston State’s pitcher Dakota Mills Tuesday night.
But this was no ordinary at-bat — the bases were loaded with Longhorn runners. And Clemens knew what he had to do.
He smashed a ball into right field to bring home two baserunners in what would end up propelling Texas to an 8-1 win at UFCU Disch-Falk Field.
Still, Clemens’ clutch hit meant even more than just a couple runs in a blowout ballgame. It was ultimately a response to his team’s back-to-back one-run losses to Kansas over the weekend.
“I think we’re definitely hitting the ball a lot better than we did in Kansas this past weekend,” junior pitcher Kyle Johnston said. “Just trying to get back in the win column tonight, and we did that, so we’re excited.”
After Clemens sent two runners home, the Longhorns continued to tee off on Mills with two more RBI singles by redshirt junior second baseman Bret Boswell and junior catcher Michael Cantu.
The burnt orange (20–12) found a wide-open 5-0 lead over the Bearkats (20–9), scoring all five runs after starting the rally with two outs in the third inning.
“We talked a lot coming out of the Kansas game,” head coach David Pierce said. “That’s the thing that we have to do is just be a little tougher in the box with two strikes, to be able to fight off pitcher’s pitches, and then have the ability to stay on the ball when we get pitches to drive when we’re in hit count.”
The Bearkats fought back by scoring a run during the following inning, but Cantu restored the five-run advantage with a solo home run in the sixth. The Longhorn catcher finished his big night with three hits in the game to extend his recent offensive hot streak.
“I’ve made some adjustments going into Corpus, and I made some adjustments before that,” Cantu said. “(I’m) trusting my eyes and letting my hands do the work. We’ve worked on my swing a lot in the fall, so the swing is there, it’s just about getting on time and getting good pitches to hit.”
Texas pitchers found steady rhythm on the other side of the ball, allowing only three hits all night. Johnston threw five innings on the mound before sophomore Chase Shugart, junior Connor Mayes and redshirt sophomore Tyler Schimpf secured the win with four scoreless innings pitched between the three.
Beyond his focus to home plate, Shugart also seems to have eyes at the back of his head. During the seventh inning, the right-hander threw a stealthy ball to Clemens at first base to complete his fourth pickoff play of the season in just 13 appearances on the mound.
“You know he’s locked in,” Pierce said. “He’s doing some things he’s never done before. He’s controlling the running game … He’s not worried about mechanics — he’s worried about executing pitches.”
The Longhorns regained their confidence with 12 total hits during Tuesday night’s win after their back-to-back losses to the Jayhawks last Saturday and Sunday. They aim to keep the ball rolling as they head into this weekend’s Big 12 series against Oklahoma at the UFCU Disch-Falk Field.