Josh Sawyer

Junior outfielder Ben Johnson swings away at a pitch Tuesday against Texas A&M Prairie View. Johnson went 2-for-4 in the game with two RBIs, four stolen bases and also scored four times.
Photo Credit: Graeme Hamilton | Daily Texan Staff

After a series sweep with little offensive production, Texas’ bats started early Tuesday. 

To lead off the first inning, junior left fielder Ben Johnson ripped a ball through Prairie View A&M third baseman Connor Wrye’s legs to open up the game for Texas. Although Johnson’s hit was scored an error, it was the spark for Texas’ offense, which scored three runs in the first inning and plated another nine runs in a 12–4 win over the Panthers.

“[My lead-off at-bat] set the tone early,” Johnson said. “Obviously we want to score a lot of runs, and we did that tonight. That’s the goal every game. I think it was one of those things, no matter what the situations was, we were going to keep putting it on them.”

But it wasn’t easy sailing for the Longhorns. Texas’ sophomore starting pitcher Josh Sawyer produced a solid outing until he ran into trouble in the fourth inning.

Sawyer hit the leadoff batter and walked the next to start the inning. But the sophomore made his biggest mistake when he threw a ball over the head of redshirt freshman third baseman Bret Boswell, attempting to throw out the leadoff runner on a bunt. 

The error allowed a run to score and was the first run in the Panthers’ biggest inning. Prairie View A&M drew three more walks in the inning and scored four runs to tie the game at 4–4.

The Longhorns answered in the bottom frame as senior right fielder Collin Shaw started the inning with a leadoff walk and then stole second base. Johnson singled Shaw home and Texas took a 5–4 lead that it would not surrender.

“After we had that walk in the park in the fourth, the offense continued to stay focused and that was a really a good sign – the fact that they didn’t panic or come out of character,” head coach Augie Garrido said.

Texas’ offensive onslaught continued in the sixth inning when Johnson opened the inning with his second base hit of the ball game and a steal — a season-high eighth of the game. Sophomore center fielder Zane Gurwitz followed with a walk, and sophomore catcher Tres Barrera scored Johnson to push the lead to 7–4. Texas added another run in the inning off a sacrifice fly from freshman shortstop Joe Baker.

Senior second baseman Brooks Marlow added the Longhorns’ final runs in the ninth with a two-run bomb that barely missed the Taco Shack “Free Taco” sign in the right field bullpen. Longhorn senior pitcher Ty Marlow finished off the game, and Texas secured its 23rd win of the season to move a game above .500 before its weekend matchup with Texas Tech.

“Every win is important,” Baker said. “We just wanted to get out there and take care of things like we should’ve all year. We had a down year but it was good to get out there and get a win. Hopefully it’ll propel us in the next series.”

Despite the four run fourth inning, the Texas pitching staff only allowed one hit. Freshman pitcher Jake McKenzie earned the win after relieving sophomore pitcher Jon Malmin in the fourth inning.

The Longhorns will play their final home series starting Friday against the Red Raiders.

Behind 11 innings of combined work, Longhorn starting pitchers junior Chad Hollingsworth and sophomore Josh Sawyer led the Longhorns to two 5-0 shutouts in Saturday’s doubleheader against Minnesota.

In the first game, Sawyer threw five innings of three-hit work bouncing back from a tough outing against Rice.

“[For me] I think it was all about location and throwing with conviction,” Sawyer said. “[Pitching Coach] Skip [Johnson] always preaches about throwing with conviction, every pitch. Tonight, I really worked on that, throwing with conviction and hitting my spots well.”

The Texas offense backed up Sawyer with a two-run third inning. Sophomore center fielder Zane Gurwitz hit a single followed by a walk from freshman designated hitter Joe Baker and a single by junior left fielder Ben Johnson. Senior right fielder Collin Shaw hit an RBI single to give Texas a 1-0 lead. The Longhorns added another run in third off a wild pitch.

Texas put a run in the bottom of the fifth and two runs in the seventh inning. Minnesota’s offense couldn’t stage a comeback and the Longhorns won the first game of the double header 5-0.

In the second game, Hollingsworth earned his first win in 6.1 innings of work throwing five strikeouts and only allowed two hits.

Texas helped Hollingsworth offensively with a big fourth inning. Senior Brooks Marlow broke through the scoreless game when he crushed a ball into the right field bullpen for a home run. The Longhorns added an additional run in the fourth.

The Longhorns would add three insurance runs in the eighth inning and to sweep Saturday's doubleheader 5-0.

In their first three games against Minnesota, the Longhorns have scored 23 runs on 37 hits.

“It's a lot of fun when you're playing baseball like this,” Marlow said. “We don't have an easy out in the line-up and that's what makes baseball fun. And scoring runs every game like the first night and hitting the ball hard like these two games makes baseball fun and makes us loose.”

Texas and Minnesota will conclude their four game series Sunday at 1 p.m. 

Senior pitcher Parker French opened Texas’ season allow ing just one run in five innings during Texas’ win against Rice on Friday. French is expected to lead Texas on the mound this season as the Longhorns’ veteran pitcher.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Marcel Merwin | The Rice Thresher

Senior starting pitcher Parker French, who is expected to be the ace of the Longhorns staff in the early going, looked his part in the Longhorns’ season opener Friday. 

After struggling in the first inning with a hit batter and an earned run, French settled in, allowing only three hits and recording a strikeout over the course of his next four innings. French did struggle with three hit batters in the game, although those could be attributed to the nerves of starting a new season.

Sophomore starting pitchers struggle

Outside of French, Texas will have to rely on a pair of sophomore arms on the mound if the team is going to have the success it wants this year. In Saturday’s doubleheader, however, both starting pitchers — Kacy Clemens and Josh Sawyer — struggled in their first starts.

Clemens’ day got off to a rough start, as he allowed seven hits, including a home run, and six runs in his first inning. Clemens settled down for the next two innings but was credited for two more earned runs in the fourth after the Longhorns had closed the deficit to one.

Sawyer’ end result was similar. He allowed a run in the first, allowed two more in the third and was credited with two earned runs in the fifth as Rice swept the Longhorn in the doubleheader.

Longhorns bats rattle Rice’s Blake Fox

While Clemens struggled on the mound, the Longhorns bats kept the game close, which was an impressive feat given the strength of Owls starting pitcher Blake Fox. Texas pegged Fox for seven runs — four of which were earned — eight hits and two walks.

Last season, Fox posted a 1.46 ERA for Rice and was anticipated to be one of the game’s leading pitchers heading into this season. Fox still emerged with his 19th straight win as a starter but not before taking shots from the Longhorns batters.

Boswell starts with solid opening series

After missing all of last year with a wrist injury, redshirt freshman Bret Boswell made the most of his first opportunity to see the field this weekend. 

On Friday, Boswell went 1-for-3, scoring the tying run in the fifth inning. On Saturday, he combined to go 3-for-8 and brought in two runs in the first game of the doubleheader. In the third inning, Boswell laid down a successful squeeze bunt to draw the Longhorns to within one of the Owls. Then, in the ninth, he ripped a double to left-center field to again get Texas to within one run.

Shaw comes through as game one hero

Senior outfielder Collin Shaw didn’t take long to make an impact for the Longhorns. 

With Friday’s game tied 1–1 in the top of the seventh, Shaw stepped up to the plate with runners on second and third and a new Rice pitcher on the mound. Shaw then drilled a double to right field, scoring the two runners, which proved to be the winning runs for the Longhorns. He then added an RBI double in the first game Saturday.