Baseball: Horns Stay Alive With Offensive Eruption

<B>ARLINGTON</B> -- UT's on-again, off-again offense was waaaaay on again Thursday afternoon, and A&amp;M's defense was simply aw-ful as the Horns beat the Ags 13-6 in an elimination game at Ameriquest Field Thursday afternoon. The Longhorn bats belted out 13 runs on 15 hits and the Ags aided in the plating process with a tourney record six errors. As a result, Texas lives to see another day in the Big 12 Tournament and a Friday 7 p.m. date with tonight's OSU-Nebraska loser.

The Horns blew open a tight game with a six-run outburst in the seventh inning. Ahead 6-5 after the Ags put a three-spot on the board in the bottom of the fifth, Texas batted around in the seventh. Drew Stubbs delivered the big blow in the inning with his bases-clearing double down the left field line that scored J.D. Reininger, Ryan Russ and David Maroul. Curtis Thigpen, with his second double of the game, and Carson Kainer, with his second RBI single of the game, also drove in runs in the inning.

Every member of the Longhorn line-up got on base by hit, walk or hit by pitch, and seven of the nine registered base hits on the day. Kainer finished four-of-five while Thigpen and Russ collected three hits apiece.

"I thought our players did a good job regaining their offensive form," Augie Garrido said. "I feel that we put together all phases of our offense today."

For the second time in less than a week, Texas tagged Aggie ace Zach Jackson (10-5), who pitched six innings and gave up six runs, four earned, on eight hits. The A&M bullpen didn't do any better, with five Aggie pitchers giving up seven runs in relief of Jackson.

UT starter J.P. Howell went five innings, giving up five runs, two earned, on six hits to earn his 13th win of the season vs. just two losses. Buck Cody and Huston Street kept A&M off the board till two outs in the final frame, when Street surrendered an RBI single. He struck out the next batter to close out the win.

"I think we came out today with the mentality that we had nothing to lose," Thigpen said. "We weren't scared of losing today because there's still more to come. We came out confident today and ready to play and we're going to do the same tomorrow."

Garrido said freshman Kyle McCulloch (7-0, 2.64 ERA) will get the Friday start.

Just before Thursday's first pitch, Texas announced that Justin Simmons and J. Brent Cox, who were arrested early Tuesday morning by the Arlington police for public intoxication, had been suspended for the remainder of the Big 12 Tournament for violation of team rules.

"We will review their status for future postseason contests next week once I have had a chance to meet with our athletics administration back in Austin," Garrido said in a statement. "I will have no further comment on this situation at this time."

Post-game, Garrido added: "With our team, the first thing and the most important thing about The University of Texas is that the team represents the values, the ethics and the morals of The University and when that's violated, there will be no participation in athletics because it's secondary to what the institution stands for."

On the field, Texas jumped on top in the second by taking advantage of several A&M mistakes. Jackson walked Taylor Teagarden to lead off the inning and hit Carson Kainer to set up Robby Hudson at the plate with men on first and second and no outs. Hudson, attempting to bunt the guys into scoring position, laid down a beauty that skated past Jackson on the third base side of the pitching mound. When the A&M hurler finally got to the ball, he wheeled and threw wide of first (regardless, he wouldn't have gotten Hudson, who was awarded with a hit), allowing Teagarden to come across with the game's first run. Reininger struck out for the first out of the inning, but Russ delivered an RBI single to right before Jackson hit 3B Maroul, again loading the bases with Longhorns. Stubbs' sac fly plated Hudson to give the Horns an early 3-zip advantage.

In the bottom of the second, A&M's Cody Patton continued his torrid hitting against the Horns, blasting a J.P Howell offering off the facade of the upper deck in right field to get the Ags on the board. The solo shot was his third round-tripper, accounting for his ninth RBI against Texas pitching in the last week. It would be his only hit of the game.

A&M cut the UT lead to one in the bottom of the fourth when the Ags took advantage of an extra out given them by the first base umpire. With a runner on first and one out, Howell got Aggie 1B Coby Mavroulis to hit a double play ball to Seth Johnston. Johnston quickly flipped to Hudson for one and Hudson fired to first for two... except that ump Bob Homolka signaled safe to the shock of the Texas fielders, who were already heading to the dugout, and UT head man Garrido, just feet away in the first base dugout, who appeared to keep up a conversation with Homolka -- probably one-sided -- for the remainder of the half-inning. With new life, A&M's next batter Craig Stinson smashed a double to the left field gap to score Mavroulis and cut the Longhorn lead to 3-2.

Texas, though, put another three-spot on the board in the top of the fifth. Thigpen led off the frame with a single to center and moved to second on Teagarden's sac bunt. Kainer picked up his first RBI of the tourney with a single to left that brought home Thigpen. Kainer then moved to third on a Hudson ground ball that got past Aggie 3B Austin Boggs for an E5, and Kainer and Hudson both came around to score on Russ' second RBI hit of the day, a double to the right field gap, to make it 6-2.

But in the bottom of the frame, Texas returned the favor for the early Aggie miscues, allowing A&M three unearned runs. And just as in Wednesday's game vs. Nebraska, this game's breakdown came via an error at third. This time, though, UT's defensive specialist Maroul gave the opponent the extra out. After a leadoff hit and a walk, Howell forced Cliff Pennington into a grounder to third. Although probably not a double play ball, the Horns would have at least registered the first out of the inning and probably cut down the lead runner. Instead, the Ags plated one and had runners still on first and second with no outs. Howell was a strike away from getting out of the inning with just the one run scored, but Boggs atoned for his earlier error with a soft shot into shallow center to drive in two more and bring A&M back within one at 6-5 before Texas blew it open in the top of the seventh.

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