Baseball: Horns prevail in pitching duel

Wednesday at the Disch, the Texas bats didn't quite have the pop of the previous three games. Luckily for the Horns, the pitching did.

UT followed its 56-run three game total with just three against Northwestern State, but a brilliant pitching performance from Ray Clark and adequate but edge-of-the-seat relief work from Ryan France and Huston Street ensured that those three runs were just enough in the Horns' 3-2 win.

Ray Clark, after being roughed up in Houston for eight earned runs in just 3-2/3 innings of work vs. TCU in his only other appearance of the season, turned in a seven inning, six-hit, one-run gem vs. the Demons. Ryan France picked up the win in relief but Clark kept Texas in the game until the Horns' bats awoke in the eighth.

The UT offense held to recent form early, plating a single run in the bottom of the first, but Demon starter Carl Makowsky pitched like a man possessed over the next six frames, holding Texas to just two hits and no runs from the second through the seventh.

"Their pitcher was the great equalizer in this one," Augie Garrido said of Makowsky and the Horns' middle inning struggles at the plate. "The reason we weren't as successful as we had been was because of him."

Texas, though, finally touched Makowsky in the eighth. C Curtis Thigpen led off the inning with a ground rule double and CF Kalani Napoleon sent him home with a single to left to give the Horns their first lead since Northwestern State tied the game at one in the top of the third. 2B Tim Moss followed with an RBI double down the left field line, UT's third consecutive hit off of Makowsky, which proved to be the game-winner. In what would normally be a bunt situation, Garrido had Moss, who now has an eight-game hit streak, swinging away. "They knew he was going to bunt," the head coach said. "That's why we didn't."

The Demons gave the Horns a scare in the top of the ninth. With a 3-1 lead, France, on for his second inning, retired Northwestern State leadoff batter Brad Hanson but promptly walked Ed Linck, giving the visitors a bit of life. Kelsey Tomyn followed with a single up the middle, putting the tying run at first. Pitching coach Frank Anderson made his second visit of the inning, this time sitting France and bringing on closer Huston Street. Street, though, surrendered a first-pitch RBI single to Tyler Durham that cut the Longhorn lead to 3-2. After striking out pinch hitter Kenny Homann for the second out of the inning, Street walked hot-hitting Ricky Solis, who already had two doubles on the day, on five pitches to load the bases. With the tying run just 90 feet away and the go-ahead run at second, possibly score-able on a single, Jeramie Hale inexplicably tried to lay down a base hit bunt on Street's first offering but sent the ball straight back to the mound where the Texas pitcher fielded and threw to first for the easy, game-ending out. Street earned his second save of the season in as many opportunities with his ninth inning work.

"It was a hard fought game and a well played game by both teams," Garrido said post-game. "I think it's good for us to play a game like this . . . Every at-bat, every play becomes important."

With the Texas victory, win No. 1,332 in Garrido's 33-plus-year head coaching career, the sixth-year UT head coach moved into a tie with USC legend Rod Dedeaux in the No. 2 spot on the NCAA career wins list behind only former Longhorn coach Cliff Gustafson and his 1,427 career wins.

Garrido downplayed the personal significance of moving up the list. "It means I've been surrounded by a lot of great people," he said. "Great assistants, great administrators, great players and none greater than here at The University of Texas. There's no personal achievement in this. I'm glad to share it."

Also of note, Eric Sultemeier went hitless in four at-bats, ending his hitting streak at nine games. J.D. Reininger also failed to score a hit in his three official at-bats, ending his hitting streak at seven games. Dustin Majewski had one hit in three plate appearances, giving him 12 hits in his last 15 at-bats.

Texas (9-2) next hosts Loyola Marymount in a three-game weekend series.

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