Feb. 21, 2009
Box Score | Box Score | Quotes
AUSTIN, Texas -- Junior shortstop David Hernandez laced a two-run single in the bottom of the eighth inning to lead the Texas Longhorns to a 3-1 win over the UIC Flames in the second game of a baseball doubleheader sweep on Saturday afternoon at UFCU Disch-Falk Field.
With the score knotted at 1-1, Tant Shepherd hit an infield single and Kevin Keyes walked. Preston Clark put down a sacrifice bunt to push the runners to second and third with one out. Hernandez lined a rope to centerfield to plate Shepherd and Keyes and stake the Horns to a 3-1 lead.
Austin Wood (1-0), who started the eighth inning in relief of Cole Green, retired the side in order in the top of the ninth to seal the win for the Horns. Wood pitched two scoreless innings and retired all six batters he faced, including one strikeout.
Green allowed one run, scattering three hits and one walk while striking out five over 7.0 innings.
Texas (3-0) drew first blood in the bottom of the first inning. With two outs, Brandon Belt walked and Cameron Rupp singled through the left side to put runners at first and second. Shepherd singled up the middle to drive in Belt.
UIC (0-3) scored the equalizer in the top of the fourth. With two outs, Brandon Harwell doubled to the gap in right centerfield and Andy Leonard plated him in with a double to the opposite gap, knotting the score at 1-1.
Hernandez paced Texas' hitters, going 3-for-4 with two RBI. Travis Tucker went 2-for-3 and Shepherd was 2-for-4 with one run and one RBI.
Mike Kool (0-1) was the hard-luck loser for the Flames. He yielded three runs on nine hits and four walks.
Texas and UIC close out the four-game series on Sunday with first pitch at UFCU Disch-Falk Field slated for 12:30 p.m.
Associate head coach Tommy Harmon
On sweeping the doubleheader: Obviously the pitching has been strong and this defense has been very good. The thing baseball does to you a lot of times, you kind of have the upper hand on a team for a couple of games and you’re thinking all you have to do is throw your hat out there and you’re going to win. All of a sudden they just turned it around. They had a guy go out there and have a tremendous pitching performance and shut us down for a long time, where everything we hit was right at them. We had a lot of chances early but we couldn’t get it done. I told them inside that these types of games build character for you later in the season, knowing that you can do this when things aren’t going your way.
On the reasons for a close second game: I don’t think we got lackadaisical at all. I just think that he [UIC pitcher Mike Kool] had very good command of his fastball. He was throwing a sinking fastball, he had a good changeup and a slider, and he kept the ball down. That’s why we were hitting so many ground balls. Then when he got it up and we did hit one on the nose, it went right to someone. That’s baseball. But we did not let down, that was the best thing about the club today.
On the team’s focus on pitching and defense: It’s no secret we struggled defensively last year and until later in the year, we struggled from the mound as well. The focus is always pitching, whether you get it or not. You can’t win without pitching and you really can’t win without defense either. You can manufacture runs, but the other two you have to have. I don’t think it matters what sport it is, you have to have defense.
On how the defensive performance affects the pitchers’ approach: That’s what Skip’s finding now, you have to pitch to contact. When you don’t have confidence in your defense, you don’t want contact. But if you have confidence in your defense, you want them to hit it. We’re forcing contact. That’s our strategy.
Pitcher Taylor Jungmann
On his first career start: It feels good to go out there and throw the first game. I threw pretty well and I was pretty happy with it.
On his approach on the mound: I just went out there always. It was actually only seven innings so it was a little like high school.
Pitcher Cole Green
On the outstanding fourth-inning play between Travis Tucker and David Hernandez: It was unbelievable. It was fun for me to watch. I kind of got a crack out of it.
On recovering from giving up a few hits: After (the fourth inning), those hits I gave up, I just let it go and focused on hitting my spots more than anything. That’s what we’ve been taught, to pitch to the mitt. I just forgot about the hitter and went on about my business, and did what I knew I could do to control the game. I took it from there and just tried to get ground balls.
On whether he got stronger as the game progressed: I felt a little more at ease, a little more relaxed. I didn’t feel necessarily stronger, I just felt more comfortable. The sixth and seventh innings I felt were my best innings.
Shortstop David Hernandez
On the reason for the close second game: We did score a lot of runs in the first game, so I think we might have gotten a little comfortable, especially after we scored in the first inning again. We kind of stepped back and as soon as they scored that run, we realized we were letting them right back in the game and before you know it, it’s the eighth inning, tied 1-1. We just have to play like it’s a new game every inning.
On the importance of winning a close game: This team is really clutch. When we need a hit, we get a hit. Same with the pitching and the defense.
On his game-winning, two-RBI single in the eighth inning: [I wanted to] see a ball up and hit it in the outfield, that’s basically what the coaches told me to do. I took the first pitch inside, and sure enough he threw me a curve ball. I went with it and got a hit.
On his outstanding defensive play with Travis Tucker in the fourth inning: We’ve actually been working on that and talking about it a little bit in practice. That was not on purpose but I just happened to be in the right place at the right time, and it worked out.
Second baseman Travis Tucker
On the importance of winning a close game: It shows a lot of character for this team and how much we want to win. We want to go out there and perform and get the job done. You look on the mound and those guys are throwing their hearts out for us, you have to get some runs for them. They threw a great game, so for us to not come through for them would be a shame.
On his outstanding defensive play with David Hernandez in the fourth inning: We’ve practiced that backhand play. It didn’t happen how it’s supposed to happen, but it still happened. I was supposed to catch it instead of doing it all in one motion. You have to play it off. That was momentum for us. Cole laughed and I think he jumped up in the air.
On his success in the leadoff role: We work on little things. We worked really hard in the fall on my approach with coach Garrido and all the coaches. We worked more on the mental game and that helped out a lot. It’s a little different. You need to be more selective, try to work the count a little bit to let everybody see what he’s got, maybe run up the pitch count a little bit, and be aggressive with two strikes.