Texas hosts UConn in homestand

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Junior catcher Michael Cantu finds the ball in the Longhorns’ weekend series against Rice. Cantu slammed a two-run ho- mer during Wednesday night’s 7-2 win against Sam Houston State. 

Photo Credit: Joshua Guerra | Daily Texan Staff

Texas isn’t playing ‘Augie Ball’ anymore. That was on full display against Sam Houston State on Wednesday night.

The small ball associated with former Texas head coach Augie Garrido in previous seasons was nowhere to be found in the approach new head coach David Pierce’s ball club during its 7-2 victory against Sam Houston State on Wednesday.

In a runless ball game, junior right fielder Patrick Mathis advanced to second base as the result of a passed ball while junior catcher Michael Cantu was at the plate during the fifth inning. Cantu followed this with a bomb over the left field fence to define the aggressive mentality of this year’s Longhorn offense from
the former. 

“Most likely, with Augie we’re probably going to try and bunt him over in a close game like that where it’s 0-0,” Cantu said. “He just let me swing away and I ran into one and we got up 2-0 … It’s a different mentality of trying to be an offensive team and score a lot of runs.” 

Although sophomore Kody Clemens only played under Garrido for one season, he already feels the difference when he goes to the plate with Pierce at the helm. 

“It’s definitely different,” Clemens said. “Having (Travis) Jones lead off, most of the time me right behind him, he usually gets on and I come up with that mindset to bunt. But now we have that opportunity to swing the bat. I’d say we’re more comfortable at the plate due to the fact that we’re trying to drive runs in instead of just get it to the next guy.” 

Cantu saw a few pitches that had the potential to clear the fence in Texas’ opening series with Rice, but nothing came from them. The two-run homer that gave Texas the lead in Huntsville was actually the senior’s first jack since the 2015 season. 

“When you’re just missing pitches it’s just about keep swinging,” Cantu said. “It’s sorta the shooter mentality in basketball. It’s just keep swinging, trust your hands, trust your eyes. It always feels great to hit a ball like that … Sam Houston is a great ball club, so it felt good to do it against them, too.” 

Despite just being one week into the season, Pierce’s ball club has already shown its offensive strength in several ways. The Longhorns showed off a little bit of small ball in game two against Rice last weekend, but their seven-run win over the Bearkats also showed they can overpower opponents.

The Longhorns’ home run total is now at five following Cantu and Jones’ shots on Wednesday night. All five homers have come off a different bat.

“It’s great knowing that we can do it all,” Cantu said. “Everybody in that lineup can hit for power, and some guys can run — not me personally — but guys who can get on base and change the game. I just think there’s a lot of ways to win in this ball game and to be able to do it in so many ways with this team, it’s special.” 

Texas comes off the 7-2 victory with only one day of rest as it prepares for a series with Connecticut, the first meeting between the two programs. The first pitch for game 1-of-3 begins at 4 p.m. at UFCU Disch-Falk Field on Friday.

Connecticut’s sophomore starting pitcher Tim Cate, has Texas’ undivided attention. Cate commanded 13 strikeouts and no runs on two hits during his first win of the season on opening day. After retiring the first 14 batters he faced, Cate now has his sights set on Texas tonight. 

“Their Friday night starter is a potential first rounder in next year’s draft,” Pierce said. “(He’s) a really tough left-hander with a really powerful breaking ball, so he’s going to be a challenge … They’re not coming in here to participate, they’re coming in here to compete so we better be ready.”