Baseball completes sweep of South Carolina, 8-5

14 Mar By
Catcher DJ Petrinsky had a double and drove in two runs to help the Texas baseball team finish off a three-game sweep of visiting South Carolina (photo courtesy of texassports.com).

AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas baseball team defeated South Carolina, 8-5, Sunday at UFCU Disch-Falk Field to complete the series sweep, and continue with their impressive play during the weekend.

The victory gave UT its first series sweep over a ranked team since taking down No. 2 LSU in March 2019. Texas moved to 11-5 on the season, while South Carolina fell to 10-3.

"What a great weekend," Texas head coach David Pierce said. "We had a team that went out and played consistent baseball. We had some timely hits and outstanding pitching against a very good hitting team.

"I'm proud of our players. Whatever we've thrown at them, they've handled it."

And whatever South Carolina threw to them, the Longhorns hit.

Texas wasted little time in taking the lead, as left fielder Eric Kennedy was hit by a pitch with one out in the first, stole second and reach third on an error. First baseman Zach Zubia made the most of the opportunity with a runner 90 feet away, driving in Kennedy on a base hit with two outs.

Texas did not hold the lead for long, as the Gamecocks countered with a run of their own in the top of the second. Longhorn starter Kolby Kubichek lost control with the bases loaded; his wild pitch allowed left fielder Andrew Eyster to race home from third and put South Carolina on the board.

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The Horns regained the lead on a sacrifice fly by second baseman Mitchell Daly that scored shortstop Trey Faltine from third, but South Carolina catcher Wes Clarke hit a solo home run on the fifth pitch of the second inning, tying the score at 2-2. Clarke entered the weekend leading the nation in home runs but was 0-for-7 in the series prior to Sunday's contest. He went 2-for-4 in the series finale.

That was the closest the Gamecocks would get, as the Longhorns' bats responded, putting two runs on the board in the bottom of the frame. Designated hitter Ivan Melendez doubled to drive in Faltine, and then scored on a single by third baseman Cam Williams.

UT's 4-2 lead was extended to 8-2 in the fourth, as eight batters stepped to the plate for the Horns. After right fielder Douglas Hodo III reached on a throwing error to begin the inning, Kennedy bunted to SC pitcher Julian Bosnic, ending the starter's day on the mound; Bosnic took the loss, evening his record at 1-1. South Carolina reliever Andrew Peters did nothing to hold back Texas' offense, though, as UT center fielder Mike Antico worked the count to 3-2 before singling to right field, loading the bases with no outs. Zubia began the scoring in the Horns' four-run frame, launching a long fly ball to center field, allowing Hodo to tag and score from third. A double off the bat of catcher DJ Petrinsky scored two more and a single by Faltine scored Petrinksy for an additional insurance run.

The lead held firm for the Longhorns, as three Texas relievers, including Tanner Witt (1-0), who picked up his first victory, combined to allow just five hits and struck out seven in the final five innings. South Carolina continued in its offensive woes, though the Gamecocks added one run in the fifth and two more in the ninth.

Kubichek began the game on the right foot for Texas, tossing four innings. He did allow the Gamecocks to score two in the second, but otherwise posted a solid outing, as he stayed mentally tough in the fourth, earning two outs after putting runners on first and second.

"As you guys know, when I walk out of the dugout, that means that the pitcher is coming out, most of the time," Pierce said. "Some guys are very deliberate of looking you in the eye and saying, 'Coach, I know what I'm going to do, I'm going to beat him up inside. I've got this.' He said those right things and I felt really comfortable with that matchup more so than I did with Tanner (Witt) in the inning."

The Longhorns host UT-Rio Grande Valley at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in a game that can be seen on Longhorn Network; they will open up Big 12 play at Baylor next weekend.

Riley Zayas is a high school sophomore and freelance journalist from Round Rock, Texas. He began his journalism career as a Sports Illustrated Kids reporter and has since become a regular contributor to Horns Illustrated, covering Texas Longhorn sports. His work also includes Fellowship of Christian Athletes publications, College Baseball Nation and Sports Spectrum, a national christian sports website. He currently serves as the Managing Editor of True To The Cru, covering UMHB athletics. Twitter: @ZayasRiley