Baseball: Improved Defense Tops Tigers

A day after a disappointing loss to Rice, it was apparent the Texas Longhorns needed to make some adjustments. Fortunately for the Horns, head Coach Augie Garrido saw it too. The Horns hinted at defensive improvement by committing only one error in a 7-3 win over Texas Southern University Wednesday at UFCU Disch-Falk Field in Austin.

Box Score

Texas struck first when Michael Torres reached second on a single and fielding error. Torres took advantage of a ground outs by second baseman Travis Tucker and Jordan Danks to round the bags and hit home, giving Danks the first of his two RBI.

The Tigers reacted with a two-run second inning. Casey Whitmer took over things from starter Kenn Kasparek after one inning. A single by Tiger Jordan Bush loaded the bases with one out before Whitmer let one get away from him and David Arredondo was hit by the pitch. Michael Norris' ground out to Whitmer gave the Horns their second out of the inning but gave the Tigers another run. Their lead held through the second and gave them the 2-1 advantage as the Horns picked up their bats for the bottom of the third.

Brandon Belt tied the game up with a shot to right center field that Travis Tucker rode home. Belt's RBI knotted the Horns up with Texas Southern at 2-2.

The top of the fifth saw Earnest Rhone plant the ball between the fence and the scoreboard, putting the Tigers over the Longhorns for the last time of the game.

Russell Moldenhauer was the lead-off hitter of the sixth and reached the bags free of charge due to some sloppy pitches by new pitcher Reshaud Henry. Kyle Russell's big triple, his first of the season, got Moldenhauer home. Russell's triple set also set himself up perfectly to cross the plate on a sacrifice fly to the right field warning track by catcher Cameron Rupp.

With the bases loaded and two outs in the top of the seventh, junior lefty Kyle Walker beaned Justin Holloway knocking in the Tigers' fourth run. Texas Southern failed to get anyone else home and take the lead in the seventh.

A double by Moldenhauer with two outs and two men on broke the tie and sealed the deal for Texas as the Tigers failed to score again in their remaining two innings. One insurance run for good measure in the bottom of the eighth brought Texas up 7-4.

"We started slow, real slow…but we stepped up competitively as the game went on," said third baseman Preston Clark. "Russell (Moldenhauer) stepped up with big hit and opened the game up."

Moldenhauer went 1-2 with two RBI and returned to his spot in left field after ceding it to Torres against Rice.

"Lately I've just been hitting the ball real well," Moldenhauer said.

When asked about his move from DH back to left field, Moldenhauer said he feels much more comfortable and explained that as the season goes on, you can't afford to be nervous and have to just get out there and play.

Besides moving Moldenhauer back to the outfield, Garrido put junior Pat McCory at third and let Tant Shepherd, who had three errors at the same position against Rice, sit this one out. Torres, who is usually an infielder but did a stint in left field last game, was shifted to DH and went 1-for-4 with one hit and currently has the longest active hit streak on the team at 15. Garrido sees constant shifts in the future as he tries to accommodate each player's strengths...

"We know Preston (Clark) is the best third baseman. That's no mystery," Garrido said. "Unfortunately, he's also the best catcher…he's part of the elite."

And, in some cases, their weaknesses...

"We don't have the defensive skills to go along with the offensive players," said Garrido.

Stayton Thomas recorded the win by throwing for two and a third innings and giving up no runs or hits. The loss goes to Haneef Aleem due to the Horns' two hits and two runs during his two-thirds of an inning.

Today's game was a makeup for an earlier rainout against Dallas Baptist University. The team has to meet a minimum of 52 games without being penalized.

Now Texas shifts its focus to a three-game weekend series with the Sooners in Norman. Their first match-up starts at 6:30 p.m. Friday in Norman. The Horns return to Texas on Tuesday, April 8th to take on Texas State at the Dell Diamond in Round Rock.

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