AUSTIN, Texas -- Nick Peoples went 3-for-4 with two runs scored and made three outstanding defensive plays in his first career start at third base to lift No. 7 Texas to a 4-1 victory over Villanova in front of a season-high crowd of 5,054 fans at Disch-Falk Field on Saturday, Feb. 25.
The Longhorns' (8-6) win over the Wildcats (2-3) not only gave UT its eighth triumph in the last 11 games, but also improved Texas' home record to 5-0 on the year.
A pitcher's duel from the outset, starters Mike Loree for Villanova and McCulloch (Houston, Texas) for UT put together three scoreless innings apiece to open the ballgame while working out of some early jams. In the top of the fourth, the Wildcats scored their first run of the series as Craig Mirsky led off the inning with a single, advanced to second on a groundout, stole third and scored on a two-out fielding error to stake Villanova to a 1-0 lead. The Horns looked to answer immediately in the bottom half of the fourth as they had Drew Stubbs (Atlanta, Texas) draw a leadoff walk and become the team's third base runner to reach third base in the opening four frames, but Loree again worked out of the threat by inducing an infield pop-up to end the inning.
The Wildcats attempted to extend their lead in the top of the fifth as Jim Gillin, who walked to start the inning, moved to second on a sacrifice and tried to score on a two-out base hit from Ryan Arcadia, but Kyle Russell (Magnolia, Texas) made a perfect throw from right field to cut him down at the plate and keep the score at 1-0. McCulloch would then elude another scoring chance by Villanova in the top of the sixth before Peoples (Round Rock, Texas) started the bottom of the frame with a triple to place the tying run 90 feet away. A RBI-single by Jordan Danks (Round Rock, Texas) then knotted the game at 1-1 in front of a bunt single by Stubbs, a sacrifice bunt and a Russell sacrifice fly to left field to give the Longhorns a 2-1 advantage.
Although Villanova tried to mount a threat in the eighth, Russell made a diving catch to rob Derek Shunk of extra bases and leave the Wildcats with only three outs to work with. In the bottom of the eighth, the Longhorns managed to load the bases with two outs on a double by Peoples and two walks before a two-out double off the bat of Bradley Suttle (Boerne, Texas) scored two and made it a 4-1 contest. Preston Pehrson (Arnold, Md.) would follow another walk in the inning with a grounder toward the right-side hole, but Shunk made a diving stop to end the frame without further damage. In the ninth, Kenn Kasparek (Weimar, Texas), who entered the game one inning earlier, retired the first two batters he faced and then Peoples made the last of his three fine defensive stops to seal the victory. While McCulloch, who struck out four and allowed only one unearned run on four hits over seven innings, picked up his first win of 2006 and Kasparek notched his second save of the year behind two perfect innings of relief, Loree shouldered the loss for Villanova despite fanning four and surrendering only two runs on six hits over seven frames of work.
Paving the way for Texas' eight-hit attack were Peoples, who scored two of UT's four runs on the day and registered three extra-base hits, and Suttle, who turned in a 2-for-4 outing that included two RBI. Meanwhile, the Wildcats were led by Mirsky, who went 3-for-4 with one run scored. Of additional note for UT, Stubbs' bunt single in the sixth extended his current hit streak to eight games and Danks' run-scoring single gave him seven RBI in his last six contests.
These two clubs wrap up their three-game set at Disch-Falk Field on Sunday, Feb. 26 at 12 p.m. Central. To purchase tickets, call 1-800-982-BEVO or log on to TexasBoxOffice.com.