Texas baseball stifles competition at Houston College Classic

Matt Warden

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.