Baseball: Horns Hang On For 'W' In Opener

Just over seven months ago, Texas walked off the Rosenblatt Stadium field as college baseball's '02 national champs. Friday, the '03 Horns began their trek to duplicate that team's feat. Win one would not come easy.

Despite jumping out to a 9-0 lead in what looked to be a walk over the host Toreros, the Texas bats fell silent and the mound staff suddenly struggled from the middle innings on as San Diego cut the Longhorn lead to 9-5 at the end of seven. The Toreros weren't done.

Jesen Merle, in relief of starter Danny Muegge, kept San Diego off the board in the eighth with the help of a no-out, bases-loaded double play, but he couldn't close it out in the bottom of the ninth, allowing three hits and run before giving way with two outs in the inning to Huston Street. The sophomore closer gave up an RBI single, bringing the Toreros within two at 9-7 with two men on, but shut the door in the home team comeback for Texas win No. 1 and his first save of the season when Zach Dobek lined out to end the game.

The Horns scratched for their first run of the season in the top of the first when Tim Moss led off the game with a single, stole second, moved to third on an Omar Quintanilla groundout and then came home on a balk for an early 1-zip lead.

Texas went relatively quietly in the second and third but the UT bats broke it open in the top of the fourth. Dustin Majewski did much of the damage, leading off the frame with a double to center and scoring the Horns' first run of the inning on Nic Crosta's two-RBI, bases-loaded single three batters later before returning to the plate and stroking a two-out, two-run homer to wrap up the scoring in UT's eight-run outburst. In between Majewski's shots, Seth Johnston drove in a run with a fielder's choice, Moss contributed a two-RBI double and Quintanilla added an RBI single. Texas chased USD starter Justin Blaine in the frame.

Muegge pitched five strong innings, holding the Toreros scoreless on three hits, but the senior rightie failed to record an out in the bottom of the sixth, surrendering a single, a double and a walk before being lifted for Brantley Jordan. The left-handed reliever promptly allowed a run-scoring double, hit a batter and then gave up an RBI fielder's choice, which closed the book on Muegge with three earned runs surrendered in five-plus innings. Jordan finally got out of the inning after a strong defensive play by Majewski in right followed by a fly out.

A slimmed down Merle took the hill in the seventh and had about as much success as Muegge and Jordan in the sixth, giving up two runs on three singles and a hit batsman but forcing Joey Prast into a double play that kept San Diego out of a big inning.

Muegge (1-0) earned the win for Texas while Blaine (0-1) took the loss for the Toreros (2-2). Justin Simmons is scheduled to start for the Horns in the second game of the series tomorrow at 3:00.


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