Longhorns’ offense shut down by Cougars

Michael Shapiro

Kacy Clemens seemed to have tied the game. Down 3-2 with one out in the ninth, the junior first baseman squared up a 1-1 fastball. Clemens’ lefty swing drove the ball to right center, looking as if it would clear the fence at Constellation Field in Sugar Land. 

But the mid-April air dragged the ball down at the warning track into the outfielder’s glove. The Longhorns’ best chance at tying the game quickly faded away, and Texas dropped the Tuesday night matchup with Houston, 3-2.

Texas’ bats spent most of Tuesday’s contest stymied by the Cougars’ pitching. Starting for Houston was redshirt junior Bubba Maxwell. Maxwell missed nearly all of 2015 after undergoing Tommy John surgery but has rebounded this year to the tune of a 2.16 ERA in eight appearances. 

Tuesday provided more of the same for Maxwell, who went the first four innings without surrendering a base runner. As Maxwell cruised, sophomore Longhorn starter Connor Mayes scuffled. After going through the first two innings without a hitch, Mayes struggled in the third, allowing two Cougar runs to cross the plate. The scoring began with an RBI single by redshirt senior Michael Pyeatt, who was followed by another base hit from sophomore Corey Julks, putting the Cougars up 2-0 after three innings.

Maxwell’s perfection evaporated in the fifth. A Zane Gurwitz double drove in Texas’ first run of the day, continuing Gurwitz’ recent hot streak. The junior from San Antonio tore the cover off the ball during the weekend series with Kansas State, batting .583 to go along with six RBIs.

Texas took advantage of some classic Augie Ball in the sixth. Back-to-back singles put runners at the corners with one out. With a chance to tie the game, junior Tres Barrera approached the plate. 

Barrera has been the catalyst of Texas’ offense this season, occupying the three hole in the Longhorns lineup. But instead of trying to bash the ball over the left-field fence, Barrera laid down a bunt. The safety squeeze allowed Barrera to reach base and score freshman Kody Clemens, tying the game. 

But the score didn’t stay knotted for long. The Cougars responded in the seventh with their third RBI single of the game. Senior Justin Montemayor took a 2-2 pitch from Nick Kennedy and drove it into left field, giving Houston a 3-2 lead. 

Texas mustered just one hit in the matchup’s final three innings, falling 3-2 to the Cougars. The loss marked the Longhorns’ third consecutive Tuesday night loss, dropping their record to 14–19 — 2–9 in one-run games. Tuesday gave the Longhorns another chance to gain some momentum as they attempt to right the ship in the 2016 season. But once again, that chance slipped away.