The Longhorns began the 2016 season with the motto “Do simple better.”
Thirteen games into the season and riding a four-game losing streak, the Longhorns finally did simple better.
Power hitting, two out RBIs and a vintage performance by right-handed pitcher Morgan Cooper propelled the Longhorns to a 12-3 win over Sam Houston State.
“They are learning that performances are about themselves,” head coach Augie Garrido said. “You have to control yourself and be willing to be yourself rather than try to be somebody else. You think you have to do something because you’re a Longhorn. You can’t. It just puts pressure on you.”
Cooper was able to throw strikes with knee-buckling curves and hard fastballs to keep the Bearkat hitters off balance all night.
The 2014 All-American freshman blew a career-high eight strikeouts past the Bearkat bats over six innings of shutout ball and was able to keep his velocity in the mid-90’s through all six frames in his second start since missing all of last season with Tommy John surgery.
“The work that’s being put in is showing,” Cooper said. “It’s a good sign to see that going late into the innings.”
The Longhorns gave Cooper support by putting the leadoff man on base in each of the first five innings and using a smattering of stolen bases, two-out hitting, and a Kody Clemens homer into the Sam Houston State bullpen to march to a four-run lead after four innings.
The home run was the first of Clemens’ career and a welcome respite in what has been a rough campaign at the plate for the freshman third baseman.
“I was fired up about that because I know how good he is,” junior infielder Kacy Clemens said. “It’s been kind of wearing on him a little bit. Finally I said, if you hit it over the field there’s no field out there.”
Collaboration from the Clemens brothers broke the game open in the fifth.
With the bases loaded, Kacy Clemens scorched a bases-clearing double off the right field wall to put Texas up 8-0. Kody Clemens then singled up the middle to add another tally and all but declaw the Bearkat offense.
Sam Houston State countered with three runs in the seventh off of freshman Beau Ridgeway, but that would be all the offense the team would get.
The Texas offense added a trio of runs in the seventh and eighth innings to close out the win and climb within a game of 0.500 before setting off on a road trip to No. 9 UCLA this weekend.
“We have a lot more room to grow,” Garrido said. “We have a very high top end, in my opinion.”