Kainer's ninth-inning sacrifice fly lifts No. 16 Baseball to 4-3 victory over Texas Tech
LUBBOCK, Texas -- Carson Kainer drove in three runs, including the eventual game-winner with a sacrifice fly in the top of the ninth inning, to lead No. 16 Texas to a 4-3 victory over Texas Tech in front of a season-best 2,972 fans at Dan Law Field during the conference opener for both clubs on Friday, March 17.
With the Longhorns' (15-9, 1-0 Big 12) win over the Red Raiders (16-7, 0-1 Big 12), UT has now won three in a row, six of its last seven and 15 of its previous 21 tilts.
Both starting pitchers kept the contest a 0-0 deadlock through the first three innings as Adrian Alaniz (Sinton, Texas) faced only one hitter over the minimum for UT and A.J. Ramos stranded three base runners without allowing a hit for Tech. Texas then loaded the bases with two outs in the top of the fourth courtesy of an error, a Preston Clark (Rockwall, Texas) base hit and a walk, but Ramos worked out of the jam by inducing his next batter to pop-out and end the Horns' scoring chance. In the bottom of the fourth, Tech used a leadoff hit from Brian Capps, who moved to second with two outs on a groundout, and a two-out, RBI-single off the bat of Roger Kieschnick to jump out in front 1-0.
Answering immediately in the top of the fifth, the Longhorns received a one-out single from Chance Wheeless (Round Rock, Texas) followed by a double from Drew Stubbs (Atlanta, Texas) before Kainer (Tomball, Texas) came through with a two-run double down the left-field line to give Texas a 2-1 advantage. One out later in the frame, Kyle Russell (Tomball, Texas) doubled into the left-field corner to up the Texas lead to 3-1. After the UT outfield turned in a pair of fine defensive catches to retire the Red Raiders in the fifth, Tech would threaten again in the sixth by placing runners at first and second with two down, but Alaniz held his ground and coaxed a flyout to end the chance. Then, with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, the Red Raiders strung together two infield hits with a walk and two UT errors to score a pair of unearned runs and knot the game at 3-3. Meanwhile, Tech reliever Dustin Richardson, who entered the game in the sixth, held the Horns' offense in check by facing one over the minimum between the sixth and eighth innings.
Following a 1-2-3 bottom of the eighth, the Horns looked to regain the lead in the top of the ninth by placing two runners on with one out via a pair of hit batters. Following a walk to Stubbs to load the bases, Kainer lifted a deep fly ball to right to plate Chais Fuller (Fairfield, Calif.) with the go-ahead run and stake Texas to a 4-3 lead. In the bottom half of the frame, the Red Raider put the tying run on base with a one-out hit from Joey Callendar, but Kenn Kasparek (Weimar, Texas), who came on in relief to start the ninth, induced a fielder's choice groundout before recording his first strikeout of the contest to seal the one-run win and earn his third save of the season. While Austin Wood (Kingwood, Texas) picked up the victory for the Horns with one perfect inning of relief in the eighth, Texas Tech reliever Randy Gattis shouldered the loss. Of note, both Alaniz, who allowed only one earned run on five hits while striking out four over seven innings, and Ramos, who tossed five solid frames, received no-decisions despite solid starting efforts.
Leading the way for the Longhorns' offense on the evening was Kainer, who posted a double while driving in three runs and scoring another on the night, and Clark, who extended his current hit streak to five games with a 1-for-3 effort. On the other side of the ledger, Texas Tech's offense, which out-hit UT by a slim 6-5 margin, was paced by Capps, who went 2-for-3 with one run scored and one RBI, and Willie Rueda, who tallied two hits in four at bats and scored one run. Of additional note for UT, Kainer has now reached base safely in 18 consecutive games, owns 10 hits in his last four contests and has amassed eight RBI in the last two games.
These two team resume their three-game set at Dan Law Field with a 2 p.m. Central contest on Saturday, March 18.