No. 16 Baseball pulls out 3-2 victory over No. 2 Rice
AUSTIN, Texas -- Carson Kainer drove in what proved to be the game-winning run in the bottom of the seventh and relievers Austin Wood and Adrian Alaniz worked a perfect eighth and ninth inning, respectively, to lift No. 16 Texas to a 3-2 victory over No. 2 Rice in front of 5,624 fans at Disch-Falk Field on Wednesday, March 22.
The Longhorns' (16-10) win over the Owls (18-7) not only marked their third this season and ninth in a row against Rice, but also upped their home record to 10-1 on the year.
After starters Riley Boening (Yoakum, Texas) for UT and Will McDaniel for Rice opened the ballgame with two and one half innings of hitless baseball, the Horns grabbed a 1-0 advantage in the bottom of the third as Bradley Suttle (Boerne, Texas) doubled to begin the frame and came around to score on back-to-back sacrifice bunts, including a suicide squeeze off the bat of Chais Fuller (Fairfield, Calif.). The Owls would look to answer in their half of the fourth and fifth by putting a runner on during each inning, including a runner at third with two down in the fifth, but Boening and the Longhorns' defense worked out of both jams to keep the lead in tact. In the bottom of the fifth, Chance Wheeless (Round Rock, Texas) led off with a single, stole second and moved to third with two outs on a deep fly ball to center field. Preston Clark (Rockwall, Texas) then worked a nine-pitch at bat before singling off the third baseman's glove to bring home Wheeless and make it 2-0 in favor of Texas.
Rallying from behind in the top of the sixth, the Owls received a leadoff walk and their first two singles of the ballgame on a blooper to center field and a bunt base hit to load the bases with no outs. A double-play grounder then brought in one run before Jordan Dodson came up with an infield hit to knot the game at 2-2. After Kenn Kasparek (Weimar, Texas) came out of the UT bullpen to end the frame on a pop-up with two runners on and the Horns' offense went in order in the bottom of the inning, the game moved to the seventh still deadlocked.
A Drew Stubbs' (Atlanta, Texas) walk to open the bottom of the seventh was then followed by a RBI-double off the bat of Kainer (Tomball, Texas) to reclaim the lead for Texas at 3-2. Now with a runner at third and no outs, the Horns had to face reliever Cole St. Clair, who proceeded to set down the first three batters he faced on a strikeout, a foul pop-up and a flyout to keep the Rice deficit at one. Down to their final six outs, the Owls looked to tie the score in their final two at bats, but Wood (Kingwood, Texas) and Alaniz (Sinton, Texas) worked a 1-2-3 eighth and ninth, respectively, to close out the win. While Alaniz notched his first career save and Kasparek, who threw 1.1 perfect innings in relief, earned his third win of the year, Rice reliever Bobby Bramhall shouldered the tough loss. Of note, Boening, who received a no-decision, tossed a career-high 5.2 innings during his fifth start of the season for Texas and held the Owls hitless through the first five frames of his outing.
Paving the way for the UT offense on the night were Kainer, who went 1-for-3 with an RBI, Clark, who singled in one run, and Wheeless, who extended his current hit streak to five games with a fifth-inning base hit. Rice, meanwhile, had three different players account for its three hits on the night, including Dodson, who singled in one run during his four at bats. Of additional note for Texas, Kainer now owns 10 RBI in the last five games and headlines the team with five game-winning RBI, while Suttle has reached base safely in 25 of 26 games this season.
Up next, the Longhorns open a three-game conference series with Oklahoma State at Disch-Falk Field on Friday, March 24 at 6:15 p.m. Central.