Kacy Clemens

Photo Credit: Rachel Zein | Daily Texan Staff

Before the season began, the Longhorns thought they had a starting rotation certain to get them back to Omaha, Nebraska.

Senior pitcher Parker French was coming off of a year with a 2.41 ERA and 62 strikeouts. Sophomore pitcher Josh Sawyer and junior pitcher Chad Hollingsworth were coming off injuries, and sophomore pitcher Kacy Clemens, son of Texas pitching legend Roger Clemens, was looking for his first start on the mound after playing first base last season.

Two months later, as the team heads into its last Big 12 home series against Texas Tech this weekend, the Texas rotation looks far different from the one that started the season.

Clemens is out for at least a month with an elbow injury. Hollingsworth has battled injuries, and Sawyer has been relegated to starting the Tuesday games. Of the four, French is the only player left in Friday’s starting rotation.

“When you start talking injuries, you start making excuses, and you don’t try to find solutions,” head coach Augie Garrido said. “We’re trying to find solutions.”

Garrido’s solution, at least for this weekend, will be to put junior pitcher Ty Culbreth and freshman pitcher Connor Mayes into the starting rotation.

Culbreth started last Saturday at TCU in place of Clemens, and, although he got the loss, he pitched six innings, gave up just three earned runs and struck out six to give the Longhorns a chance in the game.

Mayes came out of the bullpen in Sunday’s series finale, shutting down the Horned Frogs for four innings before giving up two runs in the sixth.

“He came in, grabbed the ball and threw it to the mitt with no fear,” Garrido said of Mayes after Sunday’s game. “That’s the way he pitched in high school, and that’s what made him one of the top pitchers in the entire state.”

But the new arms in the rotation might be too little, too late for the Longhorns.

The sweep Texas received at the hands of TCU all but closed the door on the Longhorns’ hopes of receiving an at-large bid for the NCAA Tournament. The Longhorns still have a shot at getting into the 64-team field by winning the Big 12 Championship next month, but that would require winning a minimum of four games in five days.

The games won’t get easier this weekend as Texas Tech rolls into town. The Red Raiders sit fourth in the conference — two games above the Longhorns — with a 10–8 Big 12 record and were ranked in Baseball America’s College Top 25 before losing their series to Oklahoma State last weekend.

Texas pitchers will face off against Red Raiders sophomore Stephen Smith, who’s tied for second in the conference with eight home runs, and junior Eric Gutierrez, who has belted 13 doubles this season.

Still, even with all the losses and the changes in the rotation, junior left fielder Ben Johnson said the team is keeping an upbeat attitude.

“Whatever happens, happens with the tournament,” Johnson said. “It’s out of our hands at this point. We just have to go out there and compete every day and try to win as many games as you can.”

Longhorns fall short in extra innings

Texas starting pitcher Kacy Clemens turned in one of his best performance of the year, but the Longhorns' offense had trouble getting things going, losing 1–0 in extra innings.

Sophomore right-hander Clemens only allowed two hits and a walk while throwing seven innings of scoreless baseball.

Offensively, the Longhorns tried to help Clemens as they were able to get on base three times in the first four innings. But the Cornhuskers shut the Texas offense down.

The Longhorns were kept hitless until the 14th inning when junior left fielder Ben Johnson singled.

Nebraska was able to take advantage of Texas’ mistakes in the 15th inning as junior pitcher Travis Duke hit the Cornhuskers leadoff batter senior catcher Tanner Lubach. Nebraska bunted Lubach over to second and scored him home on game-winning single by senior outfielder Austin Darby.

The Longhorns dropped a pitchers duel Friday and to avoid being swept tomorrow at 12:05 p.m.

Junior left fielder Ben Johnson hit an RBI double that was the starting point for the Longhorns’ five-run beatdown of the Wildcats.
Photo Credit: Thalia Juarez | Daily Texan Staff

In the fifth inning Sunday, Collin Shaw launched a ball onto Comal Street for a two-run home run.

After breaking a 1–1 tie in the same inning, the senior right fielder’s second home run of the season at UFCU Disch-Falk Field gave Texas a 4-1 lead over No. 14 Kansas State.

“[I’ve just been] going [to the plate] with the approach of helping the team win no matter the situation,” Shaw said.

Texas eventually took a 6–1 win and secured a three-game sweep over the Wildcats.

The Longhorns jumped on Kansas State early in the game. After the Wildcats retired the first two Longhorns in the first, junior shortstop C.J Hinojosa lined a ball into right for a single. Sophomore catcher Tres Barrera then brought Hinojosa home with a double off the left-field wall.

Texas had a chance to add to its 1–0 lead in the second when redshirt freshman Bret Boswell hit a lead-off single and freshman catcher Michael Cantu followed with a walk. Sophomore pitcher Kacy Clemens batted in the designated hitter’s spot and bunted the two runners into scoring position, but Texas left them stranded.

The Wildcats took advantage of the Longhorns’ misfortune in the third, as Kansas State tied the game at 1–1. The game went into a stalemate until the fifth inning, when junior left fielder Ben Johnson hit an RBI double to give Texas a 2–1 lead. The Longhorns continued their onslaught with Shaw’s two-run blast.

Texas added a run in the seventh inning and its final run in the eighth, when Boswell hit an RBI single down the middle to score Barrera and extend the lead to 6–1.

After a disappointing midweek loss to UT-Arlington, Johnson said coming back and the hitting the ball well this weekend helped Texas’ momentum.

“You got to give credit to [UT-Arlington]. They played a great game,” Johnson said. “It’s just something we had to learn from. We have a great, mature team, and if something like that happens, we got to learn from it. And I think we did that this weekend.”

In addition to Texas’ hitting Sunday, the Longhorns turned in solid performance from Clemens. He pitched five innings, allowing two hits and one run and striking out one.

“[Clemens’] outing was good,” head coach Augie Garrido said. “Each time, he’s progressed. That’s what winners do. That’s only the seventh time he’s pitched in two years. He’s quite an improvement and quite an addition to the pitching staff.”

Although Garrido said he liked what he saw from Clemens, Clemens said he still felt he had room to improve.

“I think my changeup and slider has been better,” Clemens said. “I think I had the best stuff against UT-Arlington. Today, I really couldn’t locate my off-speed as well as I wanted to.”

Junior pitcher Travis Duke replaced Clemens in the sixth and freshman Connor Mayes closed the final 2 2–3 innings of play with two strikeouts and zero hits allowed.

Texas (16–8) will look to build off its sweep when it plays Texas State (10–12–1, 6–3 Sun Belt) at 6 p.m. Tuesday in San Marcos.

Junior outfielder Ben Johnson swings away at a pitch. Johnson finished the game 4-for-5 with two stolen bases and a run scored.
Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

A bounce-back start from sophomore pitcher Kacy Clemens helped No. 8 Texas secure a four-game sweep against Minnesota in an 8–0 win Sunday.

Clemens came into Sunday’s game with a 24.00 ERA. In his first collegiate start, Clemens gave up eight runs on eight hits against Rice.

Clemens said he was frustrated after the disappointing start, but advice he received from head coach Augie Garrido and his dad, Texas legend Roger Clemens, helped him in the win against the Golden Gophers.

“I hadn’t really experienced that before,” Clemens said. “I was obviously pretty bummed about my first start. But this week, talking with [pitching coach] Skip [Johnson], talking with Augie and my dad, I just got everything back to speed. Came out today ready to go, and it went well.”

Allowing just one hit in five innings, Clemens struck out four and walked two.

Offensively, Texas backed Clemens early, scoring two runs in the first inning and five in the second.

A big second inning started when sophomore center fielder Zane Gurwitz and freshman designated hitter Patrick Mathis drew back-to-back walks with one out. After a wild pitch that scored Gurwitz, senior right fielder Collin Shaw smacked a double to drive in Mathis. Texas scored three more runs after that hit. The Longhorns scored five runs on four walks and two hits.

Senior second baseman Brooks Marlow said the Texas offensive explosion is no surprise to the team.

“We have a lot of guys that are going to do whatever it takes,” Marlow said. “They’re always going to have a quality at-bat. They have a plan when they go up to the plate. Somebody is always going to hit the ball every inning.”

The Longhorns added a final run in the fourth inning to extend their lead to 8-0.

With the commanding lead, junior pitcher Travis Duke relieved Clemens. Garrido said the move to end Clemens’ day after five was planned.

“We want the pitchers to have good experiences,” Garrido said. “We don’t want to take them out late and have them give up two or three runs.”

With a solid outing from Clemens, the Longhorns were able to continue their domination against Minnesota. Texas won Friday’s game, 13–2. The Longhorns swept Saturday’s doubleheader with two 5–0 victories. Through the four-game series, Texas only allowed two runs while it scored 31 runs on 47 hits.

This weekend’s performance has shown Garrido promise in this year’s team.

“Positive things are contagious, and right now, things over the weekend went in a very positive way for the whole team,” Garrido said. “I think we took a giant step toward team work this weekend. All in all, a very good weekend for the Longhorns.”

The Longhorns (7–2) return to action against UT-Pan American (5–2) at 6 p.m. Tuesday at UFCU Disch-Falk Field. 

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. 

Thanks to a combined shutout by junior pitchers Dillon Peters and Parker French, No.22 Texas remained undefeated in the 2014 Big 12 Tournament after defeating No.11 Oklahoma State, 3-0, on Thursday night.

Peters (7-3) pitched the first five innings for the Longhorns, allowing four hits in five innings of work. French relieved Peters in the top of the sixth, pitching four scoreless innings while allowing just one hit to record his first save of the season.

Freshman first baseman Kacy Clemens was the star of the game at the plate, batting in all three of Texas’ runs. Clemens also made impressive plays with his glove, particularly on a difficult throw from Peters in the top of the fourth.

The Longhorns struck first in the bottom of the second when Clemens hit home senior designated hitter Madison Carter.  They threatened again in the fourth and seventh, but were unable to get a run across despite two runners on base.

In the bottom of the eighth Texas put a couple of insurance runs on the board, after loading the bases with one out. Clemens hit a hard single to the shortstop, whose errant throw to second base allowed a second Texas run to score on the play.

Senior centerfielder Mark Payton extended his on-base streak to 93 games, tying a Big 12 record after reaching base three times in four plate appearances.

The Longhorns are next scheduled to play at 12:30 tomorrow and will take on the winner of tonight's game between Oklahoma State and Oklahoma. The Longhorns will only need to win once on Saturday to advance to the Championship on Sunday.

Freshman infielder Kacy Clemens bats against Dallas Baptist last week. Clemens, who is the son of former Longhorns' star Roger Clemens, is hitting .224 and has become a vital part of head coach Augie Garrido's team. 

Photo Credit: Sam Ortega | Daily Texan Staff

Despite the team-first approach of head coach Augie Garrido’s small-ball system, freshman infielder Kacy Clemens has already found a way to stand out.

Entering his first collegiate season, most of the focus was on Clemens’ name. As the son of Roger Clemens, former MLB all-star and Longhorn legend, expectations were very high, with the spotlight fixed on his every move.

While Clemens is just starting to find his rhythm at the plate, currently hitting .224 with just three RBIs through 25 games, his ability to do the small things has made him stand out in Garrido’s mind.

“He is another example of not bringing any fear into this game from that other game, and that is what ballplayers have to be able to do,” Garrido said after Clemens went hitless in the Kansas series two weeks ago. “Both [he and freshman catcher Tres Barrera] have power, if they can start to be consistent at the plate and be a little more aggressive, they can add another element to the team.”

After a slow start, Clemens’ hitting has shown great improvement as of late, especially his plate discipline after recording two hits and drawing three walks against Columbia last weekend. 

His work in the field, however, has been spectacular since opening day.

Clemens is currently sporting a .985 fielding percentage with just four errors at first base this season, where he sees more action than any other defender. His stellar defensive play seems to be rubbing off on his teammates too, as the Longhorns have committed just two errors over the course of their current four-game win streak.

Texas has recorded 29 runs on 42 hits during the win streak, and, if Clemens can get his bat going, the wins will continue. Clemens and the Longhorns will get their next chance to continue the hitting display against Texas State on Tuesday.

The Bobcats will travel to Austin from San Marcos face the Longhorns, sporting a respectable 15-8 record this season. Texas State is coming off of an impressive series with Western Kentucky, in which it won two of three games while scoring 21 combined runs.

But the Bobcats’ 3-4 record on the road and a 3.76 combined ERA plays strongly into what the Longhorns are doing well at the moment. Texas State can score plenty of runs, averaging just over five runs per contest, but bad pitching against a hot Texas lineup cannot happen.

The Longhorns are playing well in all facets of the game as of late, and, if Clemens and other young players can expedite the learning curve, the possibilities are endless for this Texas team.  

The No. 15 Longhorns strong-armed the competition in the Houston College Classic behind their exceptional pitching staff that allowed only two earned runs in three games.

Junior pitcher Dillon Peters took the mound against No. 12 Rice on Friday night, striking out six in eight shutout innings of work. Texas jumped on the Owls early, scoring two runs in the fourth inning, which ended up being all it needed to dispatch Rice 2-0.

Freshman infielder/pitcher Kacy Clemens reached on a single up the middle before freshman catcher Tres Barrera doubled to right field to put the first run on the board. Sophomore outfielder Ben Johnson doubled to left center in Texas’ next at-bat, scoring Barrera.

Texas held the 2-0 lead into the ninth, when senior pitcher Nathan Thornhill picked up his first save of the year in relief of Peters, striking out two of the four batters he faced. The Longhorns recorded six hits in the game, four of which came from Clemens and Johnson who both went 2-for-3 at the plate.

Texas’ domination on the mound continued in its second game of the weekend, as junior pitcher Parker French allowed just one earned run in seven strong innings against Houston. French struck out seven Cougars, ending Houston’s undefeated season while allowing seven hits in the Longhorns’ 3-2 victory.

The teams traded runs in the second inning as Houston scored the first run of the game on an RBI single by senior outfielder Landon Appling. In the bottom half of the inning, Johnson grounded out to second base which scored freshman infielder Andy McGuire to tie the score at one a piece.

Senior outfielder Mark Payton got back into the hit column against Houston after his 18-game hit streak came to an end against Rice, doubling in a run in the bottom of the third. Clemens came across the plate after a fielding error by the Cougars, bringing the Texas lead to 3-1.

Despite a Houston run in the top of the ninth, Thornhill came in to record the last out of the game, picking up his second save on the season and second in two games. Sophomore infielder C.J Hinojosa tallied two of the Longhorns’ four hits in the contest.

In its last game on Sunday, Texas showcased its resiliency with a come-from-behind 3-2 win against Sam Houston State. Sam Houston State took advantage of shaky pitching in the first inning, scoring two runs on two hits and an error by the Texas defense.

The Longhorns responded with two runs in the seventh inning in lieu of a sacrifice bunt by Hinojosa and a single by Clemens that scored Payton.

Texas notched the winning run in the top of the eighth on a sacrifice fly by junior outfielder Collin Shaw. Clemens and Shaw tallied two hits apiece to make up four of Texas’ 10 in the game.

The Longhorns will attempt to continue their win streak at home against Valparaiso on Tuesday night.