CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Although the Corpus Christi Harbor Bridge shone green and blue all through the night, it was the long ball that truly lit up the sky.
At Whataburger Field on Tuesday, the 90-degree temperature, slight wind and coastal humidity created a deadly combination for the Longhorns’ lineup, as Texas mashed its way to a 9-3 victory over the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders.
Whataburger Field, which boasts neon signs, a playground, a water park and many other minor league novelties, doesn’t resemble your average college baseball stadium. Even more rare was that the majority of the fans sported burnt orange. Texas head coach David Pierce took notice, saying it was enjoyable for the fans who don’t usually have the opportunity to make the trip to Austin to come and support his Longhorns at a road ballpark.
“We love our South Texas fans,” Pierce said. “We’ve come down two years in a row. We’ve gotten amazing support. The facility is outstanding. It’s a quality road trip. We enjoy coming down.”
Three home runs really did the majority of the damage for Texas (19–12, 6–3 Big 12), led by the bat of junior infielder Kody Clemens.
Clemens, who sent a ball high and deep into the right-field bullpen in the sixth inning, recorded the first grand slam of the season for the Longhorns. It was a team-leading eighth home run of the season for Clemens. He is only four short of the total his brother, former first baseman Kacy Clemens, set last year.
“I haven’t (talked to Kacy about it yet), actually,” Kody Clemens said after the game. “I’m sure if I get up close to there, I’ll start taking bragging rights and stuff like that. But I haven’t talked to him about it yet.”
A surprise home run came at the hands of junior catcher Michael McCann.
McCann, who played more frequently at the beginning of the season, has seen his time behind the plate decrease this season with the emergence of regular starter DJ Petrinsky. McCann, whose goal was simply to fill in for Petrinsky and give him some rest, put on a hitting display for the Texas faithful.
In the fourth inning, McCann hit a ball that just cleared the left-field fence. It was his first career home run at Texas. Pierce said afterward that it meant more to the team than it probably did to McCann, but McCann begged to differ.
“That was my first one,” McCann said. “That was the first one in my college career. So that was pretty cool. I changed something up at the plate, in the box, and I finally got the big blast. It was a confidence-booster, definitely.”
While the story of the game was truly at the plate, it did not completely overshadow the performance of the five pitchers that Texas threw. Sophomore Blair Henley, freshmen Nico O’Donnell, Kamron Fields and Bryce Elder, and junior Beau Ridgeway combined to let up only three runs on six hits.
Overall, Pierce said he saw exactly what he needed to see from his team Tuesday night.
“Just a complete win from a team on the road,” Pierce said. “It was exactly what we needed. There was a lot of resiliency and just quality, quality baseball tonight.”
Texas returns to Big 12 play Friday night against Baylor, the first of a three-game series at UFCU Disch-Falk Field. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.