"James pitched well," Garrido said. "It was a brilliant performance."
The JC-transfer raised his mark to 5-2 and was just two pitches above the minimum when he took the mound in the ninth. That's when the Wildcats pushed all three runs across the plate, denying Russell the shutout. Until then, he had retired the side in order in five of the 8.1 innings he pitched. The Wildcats had managed just two hits until their final at-bat. On the night, Russell surrendered five hits, two walks and fanned five until things got shaky (relatively speaking) in the final frame.
"I think a good question (for Russell) would be if he was trying to throw the shutout and if he was trying to complete the game," Garrido told Inside Texas. "That's the reward that I talk about. If that's in your head, fear just jumps on that bandwagon and rides that mule to death."
There was little fear of Texas ending it's eight-game winning streak with Russell enjoying a 10-run cushion. Eight Longhorns hit safely on a 12-hit barrage, with Preston Clark leading the way with three hits in three at-bats (including a home run and a triple). Defensively, this may be as solid of a team that Garrido has fielded in his 11 years at Texas.
"I really feel that this is going to hold up," Garrido said. "There aren't many teams that are going to be more athletic than we are. That's what you're seeing. It shows up in base-running because of the speed. And that same speed converts to defensive plays that other people don't make."
Texas put a runner in scoring position in the bottom of the third when Josh Prince reached on a lead-off single and advanced on Clark's sacrifice bunt. Following a Nick Peoples' walk, Travis Tucker grounded into a double play to end the inning.
"The first three at-bats we took were as good as we could take," Garrido noted, "and it resulted in three-up, three-down. That's baseball, man. The whole four innings went pretty much that way."
The Horns finally erased the scoreless tie in their next at-bat. Jordan Danks got things started with a one-out single to left before Bradley Suttle drew the third Longhorn walk of the ballgame. But Kyle Russell went down swinging for RHP Brad Hutt's only strikeout of the contest. DH Russell Moldenhaur's RBI-single to right plated Danks, but the Horns settled for a 1-0 lead after Moldenhaur was thrown out sliding into second.
The Horns blew this one open in the bottom of the fifth. Clark jumped on the first pitch he saw, and the result was a one-out solo shot over the left field wall. Peoples drew his second walk in as many appearances before Tucker reached on a throwing error from Wildcat 3B Nate Tenbrink. With runners on first and second, Chance Wheeless launched a hanging breaking ball into right field for his 14th RBI of the season. Danks popped-up to shallow left, bringing Suttle and his .425 average to the plate. With runners on the corners and facing a full-count, Suttle sent another high breaking ball over the right field fence and onto Comal Street. The three-run bomb was the sophomore's seventh homer of the season. Hutt was done, suffering his first loss against five wins this year, as LHP Tyler Ruch took the mound. Kyle Russell took a called third strike but not before Texas had built a 6-0 cushion.
The Horns weren't done. Clark's first triple of the season plated Muldonhaur who had singled with a screamer up the middle. Nick Peoples' RBI single to right-center extended the Longhorn lead and Ruch was done after facing five batters. RHP Todd Vogel came on to retire the final two batters, but now the Longhorn lead stood at 8-0.
The Horns scored for the fourth-straight inning after Danks took third with a walk and two passed balls. Kyle Russell, still looking for his first hit of the evening, got untracked on a 2-2 fastball. His monster shot over the right field wall was his 14th round-tripper of 2007, leaving him six shy of the Longhorn single-season record (held by Jose Ontiveras). It was a 10-0 runaway with seven in the book.
The Cats finally got on the scoreboard when James Russell surrendered a walk and three singles in the top of the ninth. RHP Pat McCrory made his sixth appearance of the season, needing two outs to end the contest. A wild pitch put runners on first and second before the fourth single of the frame plated the Cats' third run. McCory settled down to force a pop-up to Wheeless in foul territory retiring the side with a called third strike on the inside corner.
The Horns are now 21-7, 4-0 in league play. The three-game series resumes 2 p.m. (CDT) Saturday with RHP Adrian Alaniz (6-1, 2.21 ERA) expected to take the mound for the Horns.