Baseball: Horns Take Doubleheader From Raiders

Starters J.P. Howell (Sacramento, Calif./Jesuit/USC) and Sam LeCure (Centertown, Mo./Helias Interparish) headlined five UT pitchers that limited the Red Raiders to three hits over 18 innings while striking out 24 as No. 2 Texas (31-4, 6-2 Big 12) earned 4-0 and 10-0 shutout victories to sweep both ends of a doubleheader with Texas Tech (17-11, 1-4 Big 12) at Dan Law Field on Saturday, April 3.

Of note, with the two shutout wins, Texas not only secured its first series victory over Tech in Lubbock since 1992, but also handed the Red Raiders consecutive shutouts at home for the first time since April 11, 1975 (vs. Texas A&M by scores of 4-0 and 1-0). Additionally, the Longhorns upped their shutout total for the year to nine, which matches the 2002 squad's shutout tally.

In Game #1, the first three innings went by scoreless despite both offenses threatening to break the deadlock in the third with a runner in scoring position for the Horns and a two-out, bases-loaded opportunity for Tech. In the fourth, Seth Johnston (Boerne, Texas/Boerne) reached second base to begin the inning on a bunt that was mishandled and then thrown away before coming around to score on a base hit off the bat of Curtis Thigpen (Forney, Texas/Forney) to stake the Longhorns to a 1-0 lead. Howell, meanwhile, worked out of another jam in the bottom of the fourth courtesy of a nice relay play from the outfield that cut down a runner at the plate and kept the contest at 1-0 in favor of UT. Then, in the top of the sixth, Thigpen led off with a triple that was followed by Taylor Teagarden's (Carrollton, Texas/Creekview) third home run of the year to give the Horns a 3-0 lead. Still not done in the frame, Michael Hollimon (Dallas, Texas/Jesuit College Prep.) drew a two-out walk, moved to third on a stolen base and an ensuing throwing error prior to putting Texas on top 4-0 when Robby Hudson (Redlands, Calif./Redlands/Riverside CC) grounded a base hit through the left side. From there, Howell retired nine of the next 10 batters before giving way to Huston Street (Austin, Texas/Westlake) in the ninth, who, while making his first appearance since Mar. 2, set down three of the four Red Raiders he faced to close out the 4-0 win to mark Texas' 30th victory of the season. While Howell allowed only two hits and two walks over eight frames and fanned career-best 11 en route to notching his seventh win of the year for UT, Tech starter Dallas Braden shouldered the loss despite tossing his first complete game of the year. Notably, the shutout marked the first incurred by the Red Raiders since June 1, 2002, versus Rice during NCAA Regional action (6-0) and the first time Tech had been blanked at Dan Law Field since April 4, 1992, opposite Texas A&M (1-0).

Leading the Longhorns' offense in the first game were the trio of Thigpen, who went 2-for-4 with a run scored and one RBI, Teagarden, who delivered a two-run home run in the sixth, and Hudson, who drove in one run during a 1-for-2 day. On the other side of the ledger, Texas Tech had Josh Haney and Ryan Andrews account for the Red Raiders two base hits opposite Howell on the afternoon.

During the second game of the twinbill, Texas broke on top 1-0 in the top of the first when with two down Thigpen connected on a solo home run to right field for his fourth round-tripper of the year. The two starting pitchers then took over as LeCure for Texas and Michael McGowan for Tech limited the respective offenses to one hit each over the first five frames. In the sixth, Dooley Prince (Sulphur, La./Sulphur/ McNeese State) walked to begin the inning, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt, stole third following a walk to Thigpen and then came around to score on a single from Teagarden to put the Horns in front 2-0. One inning later, following a leadoff single from Hollimon and a walk to David Maroul (Benbrook, Texas/Western Hills/Grayson CC), Chance Wheeless (Round Rock, Texas/Round Rock) came through with a RBI-double in front of a walk to Nick Peoples (Round Rock, Texas/Round Rock), a two-run double from Ryan Russ (Comfort, Texas/Kerrville Tivy/Texas A&M/Navarro College), a two-RBI single from Thigpen and run-scoring hits from Seth Johnston (Boerne, Texas/Boerne) and Maroul to produce a 9-0 Texas advantage. LeCure, meanwhile, retired 13 in-a-row between the third and seventh frames to not only maintain the Longhorns' nine-run cushion, but also finish his seven-inning performance by allowing only one hit and matching his career-high for strikeouts with seven. J. Brent Cox (Bay City, Texas/Bay City) and Buck Cody (Oklahoma City, Okla./Casady) then worked one-two-three eighth and ninth innings, respectively, as the UT offense tacked on a solo run with a RBI-single from Wheeless in the ninth to cap off the 10-0 victory. Picking up the win for Texas was LeCure, who only allowed two base runners over his seven frames to improve to 5-0 on the year, while McGowan incurred the loss for Texas Tech.

Headlining Texas' 13-hit attack in the second game of the day were Thigpen, who collected his team-leading 14th multi-hit game of the year with a 2-for-4 outing that included two runs scored and three RBI, Russ, who went 2-for-2 while scoring once and driving in a pair, Teagarden, who scored twice and drove in one run during a 2-for-3 effort, and Wheeless, who posted two hits while scoring one run and notching a pair of RBI. Notably, while the UT pitching staff has now worked 25.1 consecutive scoreless frames, Thigpen finished the twinbill with the Red Raiders by going a combined 4-for-8 with three runs scored and four RBI. Meanwhile, topping the Tech offense in Game #2 was Cameron Blair, who tallied the one hit and one walk allowed by Texas pitching in the second half of the doubleheader.

The Longhorns and Red Raiders will conclude their three-game series at Dan Law Field on Sunday, April 4 at 1 p.m.

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