Baseball: J.P. Howell Pitches Another Gem

AUSTIN, Texas - J.P. Howell hurled a complete-game, four-hit shutout and Drew Stubbs accounted for a career-high four RBI to lead No. 1 Texas (22-2) to a 7-0 victory over Eastern Michigan (3-9) in front of a crowd of 4,717 at Disch-Falk Field on Saturday, March 13.

Notably with the win, Texas not only upped its current win streak to 11 games, which marks the longest winning streak for the club since a 12-game streak in 2000, but also extended its string of consecutive wins at Disch-Falk Field to 15. Additionally, with a 22-2 overall record, UT is now off to its best start since 1982 when the Horns began the year with 33 straight victories.

Howell and Eastern Michigan starter George Biddle locked in a pitcher's duel early by holding both offenses scoreless through the first four frames while limiting UT and EMU to four and two hits, respectively. The Longhorns then managed to grab the first lead of the game in the bottom of the fifth as J.D. Reininger (Spring Branch, Texas/Smithson Valley), who was hit by a pitch before advancing to second on a sacrifice bunt and moving to third after a wild pitch, crossed the plate on a two-out double from Stubbs to give Texas a 1-0 advantage. Two innings later in the seventh, the Horns upped their lead to 2-0 when Ryan Russ (Comfort, Texas/Kerrville Tivy/Texas A&M/Midland College) tripled down the right field line and came home on a sacrifice fly from Stubbs.

Still up by two in the bottom of the eighth, Texas tacked on five runs with two down as consecutive RBI-singles from Reininger, Robby Hudson (Redlands, Calif./Redlands/Riverside CC) and Russ plated three scores following a double from Curtis Thigpen (Forney, Texas/Forney), a walk and a fielder's choice, before Stubbs delivered his second double of the day to push Texas in front by a score of 7-0. Howell, meanwhile, limited the Eagles to two hits over the final five frames to earn his fourth victory of the year and notch both his fourth career complete game as well as the first complete game shutout of his career. On the other side of the ledger, Biddle, who allowed only one run on five hits over 5.1 innings, shouldered the loss. Of note, Howell, who matched a career-best with 10 strikeouts on the afternoon, has now thrown 17 consecutive scoreless innings, fanned 19 batters and allowed only seven hits, including one extra-base tally, over his last 18 frames and recorded the first complete game shutout by a UT pitcher since Justin Simmons turned the trick against Bucknell during the opening round of the 2003 Austin NCAA Regional on May 30 (7-0).

Topping the Texas offense, which pounded out 11 hits, was the trio of Hunter Harris (Tulsa, Okla./Metro Christian Academy/Connors State College), Russ and Stubbs, who each collected two hits while combining to account for two runs scored and five RBI. Additionally for the Horns, Thigpen extended his current hit streak to 12 games with his eighth-inning double. For the Eagles, four different players tallied singles on the afternoon, including Todd Kimling, who went 1-for-3.

The Horns and Eagles wrap up their three-game series at Disch-Falk Field on Sunday, March 14 at 1 p.m.

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