Baseball: Looking for the Sweep

The Longhorns (22-7, 5-0 Big 12) smoked Kansas State (17-6, 0-2 Big 12) 14-3 at Disch-Falk Field on Saturday in the second game of their three-game set with the Wildcats to remain undefeated in the Big 12, setting Texas up for their second sweep in as many series of conference play if Texas can put one more on Kansas State on Sunday.

The big number of the game was the 14 on the Texas half of the run column, but Kansas State's low run total of the past two outings is an indication of the development of the Longhorn pitching staff. Just like last game, Texas shutout the Wildcats for eight full innings, only surrendering three in the ninth while holding a hefty 14-run advantage.

"The pitching and the defense is playing at a very high level and we're able to get the outs as soon as they're available, for the most part," said Texas head coach Augie Garrido.

Another big number from Saturday was 15. Texas right fielder Kyle Russell launched his 15th homerun of the season and his second in as many games. We are barely into conference play and Russell is only five homeruns away from the Texas single-season homerun record (Jeff Ontiveros, 20 - 2002).

"The long ball's nice, but it's not everything. It's coming through in the clutch," Russell told Inside Texas. "Homeruns aren't everything, but I'm lucky to have a few this season and hopefully we'll see how things go."

Russell is well aware of the impending record, but said he needs to keep from focusing on a number.

"I'd be lying if I said it wasn't in the back of my mind because I'm so close to it, but if it starts getting stuck in my head that I have to do this and that, then I fall into the dungeon most hitters fall into. I told myself from the beginning I'm not going to fall into that dungeon," said Russell.

Russell is now ninth all-time on the career homerun list at Texas with 25.

It was a spectacular outing for Texas starting pitcher Adrian Alaniz. The junior right-hander pitched seven shutout innings and with the win he raised his record to 7-1 on the season. Alaniz stuck out all three batters he faced in the seventh inning and six total on the game. A complete-game shutout was in sight, but with the game in hand Texas replaced Alaniz in the eighth with redshirt freshman Alex Posey. Alaniz said he wasn't upset when he was yanked.

"It was the time where pitch counts and fatigue started to play a factor. If they wanted to get some reps for somebody else, I was up for it and if not I was ready to go out there in the eighth inning."

Texas jumped out very early, taking a 2-0 lead after the first inning, but there was also some strange goings on in the opening frame.

Texas batted out of order in the bottom of the first, with Chance Wheeless going before Jordan Danks. Fortunately for Texas, Kansas State didn't catch the mistake until the bottom of the second, when Danks came out before Wheeless. As Wheeless approached the plate for his at-bat, Kansas State skipper Brad Hill jogged out of the visiting dugout to voice his complaint.

The reason the Wildcats didn't catch the mistake is because the line-up they were given showed Wheeless batting before Danks. This was also the line-up that Wheeless and Danks saw when they batted out of order, but the official line-up given to the umpire had Danks before Wheeless.

"What we have here, as they said in Cool Hand Luke, is a failure to communicate," said Garrido. "Those pieces of paper go through a lot of hands from the board in the office to the computers to the press box to a lot of people and we apparently had several of them floating around and two were different."

Play was stopped as the umpires convened to talk about what to do, but nothing could be done. The two-run first inning couldn't be retroactively wiped out. When play finally started up again, the Longhorns dropped another three runs on the Wildcats in the second inning. All-in-all, only a single Texas starter left the game without a hit, Russell Moldenhauer, and that's because Moldenhauer was walked both times he stepped up to the plate. In fact, the sixth was the first inning of the ballgame that the Longhorns didn't score a run.

It was a big win for Texas, but Garrido said he's more concerned about his team's development as they head into conference play and that wins and losses don't define his team, or him for that matter.

"My life is not defined by winning and losing…I enjoy it more though," said Garrido with a smile.

Texas closes out the series against Kansas State with a 1 p.m. game on Sunday. Texas will likely send LHP Joseph Krebs (4-0, 2.48 ERA) to the mound to face LHP Ben Hornbeck (2-0, 5.74 ERA) of the Wildcats. After the K-State series, Texas will face the Rice Owls on Tuesday night at the Disch. First pitch for that game is slated for 6:05 p.m.