Longhorns break 4-4 tie in ninth en route to 16th straight win
TUCSON, Ariz. -- Robby Hudson (Redlands, Calif.) was hit by a 1-1 pitch with the bases loaded and two outs in the top of the ninth inning to snap a 4-4 tie and J. Brent Cox (Bay City, Texas) allowed only one hit over the final 2.2 innings as No. 1 Texas (16-0) earned a hard-fought 5-4 win over No. 10 Arizona (11-4) in front of 4,644 fans at Sancet Stadium on Friday, March 4. Notably, the win not only marked the Horns 16th straight victory this year, but also gave them the fifth-best start to a season in school history.
With neither side scoring in the first inning, Texas jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the second when Will Crouch (Austin, Texas) walked to start the frame, moved to third on a one-out double from Clay Van Hook (Brenham, Texas) and scored on a groundout. After Longhorns starter Randy Boone (Yoakum, Texas) worked out of a two runners on with one out jam in the bottom of the second, UT upped its advantage to 3-0 in the third with a pair of unearned runs as Drew Stubbs (Atlanta, Texas) scored on a three-base throwing error following a sacrifice bunt from Nick Peoples (Round Rock, Texas), who crossed the plate on an ensuing groundout. Arizona quickly countered in the bottom of the third by using four consecutive one-out hits, including a run-scoring double from Jeff VanHouten and a RBI-single off the bat of Nick Hundley, to make it a 3-2 ballgame. Still threatening in the frame, the Wildcats then placed runners on second and third with only one out after a wild pitch, but Boone fanned the next two batters he faced to keep the Longhorns in front by one.
Over the next two innings, Boone and reliever Clayton Stewart (Angleton, Texas) kept the Wildcats off the board while Arizona starter John Meloan held the Longhorns scoreless to keep it a one-run contest despite both offenses putting runners in scoring position. In the sixth, UT put its first two runners on via two base hits before a wild pitch on a strikeout and a sacrifice fly from Peoples made it a 4-2 game. Arizona would then load the bases with two outs in the bottom of the sixth, but Stewart induced Van Houten to line out to left field and end the inning unscathed. One frame later though, the Wildcats used a two-out, RBI-single from Chris Frey with runners on first and second to score one run and tied the game at 4-4 when the throw to the plate after the base hit got away and allowed the runner on first to cross the plate.
Following a scoreless eighth for both sides despite each team having a scoring opportunity, the game remained deadlocked into the ninth. In the top half of the inning, Texas got a leadoff walk to Teagarden and then with two outs proceeded to load the bases with a hit from Van Hook and a fielder's choice grounder from Chance Wheeless (Round Rock, Texas). Hudson then was hit with the third pitch he saw to give UT a 5-4 lead. From there, Cox worked a 1-2-3 bottom of the ninth to close out the win and up his record to 2-0 on the year. Wildcats reliever Mark Melancon, meanwhile, shouldered the loss.
Paving the way for the UT offense on the evening were Taylor Teagarden (Carrollton, Texas), who went 2-for-3 and scored the eventual game-winning run in the top of the ninth, the tandem of Van Hook and Wheeless, who each turned in 2-for-5 efforts, and Hudson, who collected a pair of hits and drove in the winning run. On the other side of the ledger, Arizona had its seven-hit attack led by Van Houten and Hundley, who each drove in one run with a hit and scored another. Of additional note for UT, Stewart worked 2.2 innings of relief for the Horns and allowed only one hit while fanning a pair.
The Horns and Wildcats square off in the second game of their weekend series at Sancet Stadium on Saturday, March 5 at 5 p.m. Central.