Kenn Kasparek is back and there doesn't appear to be any rust on his arm.
Kasparek, a towering 6-foot-10 power pitcher for Texas, got the start after missing the entire 2007 season due to elbow surgery and was dominant against Virginia Commonwealth on Sunday, giving up no earned runs on two hits while tossing five strikeouts and only two walks over five innings pitched.
Texas head coach Augie Garrido admitted after the game that he had his concerns with how Kasparek would hold up in his first start since the 2006 post-season, but his fears quickly subsided as the big man cut his way through the VCU lineup.
“Kasparek was better than expected,” said Garrido. “He showed the consistency necessary for success, he's regained his confidence and he gave us everything we wanted from him.”
The sweep moves Texas to 3-0 on the young season and gives the Longhorns a strong start in their quest to return to Omaha and the College World Series.
“We couldn't expect a better weekend than this,” said Kasparek after the sweep. “The fans were amazing and kept the energy up the whole time and my guys got me a lot of runs, which as a pitcher is great.”
The run support started from the very beginning of the game. Texas jumped out to 6-0 lead in the first inning on RBI from CF Jordan Danks, RF Kyle Russell, LF Kyle Lusson, DH Russell Moldenhauer and SS David Hernandez.
“They ran us off the field today,” said VCU head coach Paul Keyes. “This was the best team I've seen. They've got the best outfield in the country.”
Danks, Russell and Lusson made up the Longhorns' starting outfield and the three players combined for five hits and five RBI in the win. The one rough spot for the outfielders, for both teams, was fielding the ball in the harsh afternoon sun. Lusson picked up an error on a dropped fly ball and one of the Horns' two runs in the second inning came on a dropped fly by VCU left fielder Brad Bonney, putting Russell on base and bringing Texas second baseman Michael Torres home.
“Errors are going to happen and even if you hit it right to them you've still got to run every ball out because you never know,” said Russell. “You'd better run it out, anyway, or Coach Garrido's going to yell at you.”
Texas also got two innings of relief from sophomore left-hander Riley Boening, who had shoulder surgery in 2007 and also missed all of last season. Boening gave up no earned runs on two hits, struck out three and had no walks. Garrido said after the game he was pleased with how solid his two previously injured pitchers looked in the win.
“My fear is their fear,” said Garrido. “I'm only afraid that mentally (the injury) will stand in their way.”
Kasparek and Boening showed little signs of fear as Texas cruised to a blowout win.
The Longhorns next take on UT-Pan American for a two-game set, starting at 3:15 p.m. on Tuesday.