Clemens-led Texas advances to College World Series

Kody Clemens slammed his fifth home run of the NCAA playoffs Monday as the Texas Longhorns advanced to the College World Series by downing the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles, 5-2.

A sell-out crowd of more than 7,000 fans watched as the Longhorns backed the pitching of junior Matteo Bocchi and five relievers to clinch the Austin Super Regional.

Tennessee Tech won the first game of the best-of-3 series, but Texas bounced back to take the next two. Clemens hit home runs in all three games.

It is the 36th trip to the CWS for Texas, but it is the program’s first since 2014 and the first under second-year coach David Pierce, who kept the Longhorns steady after a shaky 9-9 start to the regular season.

Texas scored two runs in the second inning and two more in the third for a four-run lead on the Golden Eagles, the talented Ohio Valley Conference champions who won 53 games this season.

In the second, UT’s Ryan Reynolds laced a two-run double to the base of the fence in left field.

In the third, Clemens drilled a one-out, opposite-field home run. It was his 24th homer of the season. One out later, D.J. Petrinsky added another solo shot to make it 4-0.

Bocchi, making his 20th appearance and only his fourth start of the season, pitched five innings of four-hit ball. The former member of the Italian junior national team left with a 4-1 lead.

Trailing by the evntual final score, Tennessee Tech loaded the bases with two outs in the ninth. Facing Nolan Kingham, Brennon Kaleiwahea grounded out to end the game.


Texas 42-21
Tennessee Tech 53-12

Texas bounces back to beat Tennessee Tech, 4-2

Kody Clemens doubled and homered and drove in two runs Sunday as the Texas Longhorns beat Tennessee Tech, 4-2, to tie the best-of-3 Austin Super Regional at one win apiece.

A deciding Game 3 is set for noon Monday at UFCU Disch-Falk Field, with the winner earning a berth in the College World Series.

Shutting down an explosive offense, Chase Shugart pitched six innings and Blair Henley the last three for the Longhorns, who were facing elimination after losing the series opener 5-4 on Saturday.

Shugart experienced some problems with control but pitched effectively when it counted, holding the Golden Eagles to two hits and one unearned run.

The Texas defense also emerged as a factor.

While the UT infield turned a couple of double plays, it also broke down once with a throwing error by Clemens accounting for Tennessee Tech’s first run of the game in the second inning.

UT’s miscue allowed the Golden Eagles to cut the lead to 2-1.

Clemens made up for it in the Longhorns’ next at bat with a long solo homer off Tennessee Tech starter and staff ace Travis Moths, a 13-game winner who took the loss.

Texas scored again in the seventh off Moths to make it 4-1. David Garza answered for Tennessee Tech in the bottom half by greeting Henley with a first-pitch solo homer.

But that was it for the Golden Eagles, who managed only three hits on the afternoon.

Clemens, a third-round draft choice by the Detroit Tigers, continued his torrid offensive pace against Tennessee Tech.

In five NCAA tournament games, the son of former major league pitching star Roger Clemens is batting .474 with three doubles and four home runs.

He has also produced 10 RBI.

Thanks to Clemens and friends, the Longhorns moved to within one victory of their first trip to Omaha under second-year UT coach David Pierce.

The Longhorns are looking for their 36th trip overall.


Kody Clemens, in comments posted on the Texas website, on whether he was surprised that the Golden Eagles pitched to him:

“Not really, I was just going up there with the same approach as always. I didn’t know what they were going to try and do, but I knew that pitcher’s sequences. I just got a good pitch and got a good swing on it.”

Coach David Pierce, on electing to pitch Henley in Game 2:

“Well, this is the thing, there’s no tomorrow if we don’t win today. It makes no sense to me to have our next best guy sitting in the bullpen and then we’d never get to him, for the simple fact that we’re waiting on playing him tomorrow. We had an opportunity to win and we went for it. Plus, he gives Parker Joe (Robinson) and Josh (Sawyer) some rest. I knew he was fresh, I knew his stuff would play, and it was the right decision for us.”


Texas 41-21
Tennessee Tech 53-11

Texas edges Indiana for NCAA Austin Regional championship

Kody Clemens drove in the go-ahead run with a double in the seventh inning, and starting pitcher Blair Henley worked into the eighth, lifting the Texas Longhorns to a 3-2 victory Sunday night over Indiana for the NCAA Austin Regional title.

The win propelled Texas into the Super Regional round of the playoffs for the first time under second-year coach David Pierce. It is Texas’ first Super Regional trip since 2014.

Indiana survived an elimination game earlier in the day, beating Texas A&M, 9-7, and then pushed Texas to the limit in a drama- and controversy-filled ninth inning.

In their last at bat, the Hoosiers loaded the bases against Andy McGuire on a single, a hit by pitch and a walk.

Frustrated at the turn of events, Texas coaches pulled McGuire, their third reliever since the eighth, and handed the ball to Chase Shugart.

Shugart promptly fanned freshman Sam Crail for the second out.

Next, Matt Lloyd stepped to the plate and sent a fly ball twisting into foul territory and toward the left field grandstand.

UT leftfielder Masen Hibbeler raced to the barrier to get in position, reached over the rail and appeared to make the catch.

But when he pulled his glove back, the ball came loose and landed on the outfield turf.

For a moment, Hibbeler thought he had made the grab and so did the fans, who celebrated what they thought was the game-clinching out.

Moments later, officials ruled the play a no catch, giving Lloyd new life. It didn’t last long.

Shugart recorded the strike out, prompting Pierce to turn and clinch his fists in triumph.

Clemens called Hibbeler’s effort a “crazy” play.

“He caught the ball,” Clemens said on ESPN. “Then I saw the ball on the ground. I thought he just tossed it.”

Pierce later told the network that he thought the umpire made the correct call.

“(Hibbeler’s) feet hit the ground, but he never really had total possession of the ball,” the UT coach said.

In discussing his at bat that produced the go-ahead run, Clemens said he was looking for a breaking ball, and he pulled it into the corner in right field.

“I was able to put a good swing on it,” Clemens said.


Texas 40-20
Indiana 40-19

Texas A&M coach shrugs off Clemens’ theatrics

Texas A&M coach Rob Childress is trying to get his team ready to play the Indiana Hoosiers this afternoon at the NCAA’s Austin Regional.

The Aggies and Hoosiers are both 1-1 in the regional and facing elimination.

The winner would advance to play Texas tonight in the championship round.

Texas A&M fans would like nothing more than another shot at the Longhorns after what happened Saturday night.

Not only did the Longhorns beat the Aggies 8-3, but UT star Kody Clemens stirred it up with some theatrics.

After a first-inning, three-run homer, Clemens rounded third and stared briefly into the Aggies’ dugout.

During media interviews later, Childress brushed off a question about the incident.

“We are all competitors, and it’s the biggest moment, Saturday night in a regional, and he is in the moment and if you don’t like it, make a better pitch is the way I look at it,” Childress told reporters.

Added Childress: “They feed off him, and he is an incredible player, very competitive, very good approach as a baseball player and he loves the moment.

“He did a great job for them tonight, certainly the difference in the game.”

Clemens hit two home runs and produced four RBI in a three-hit performance.

As a result, the Longhorns improved to 2-0 in the regional, needing only a win tonight to advance.

For a full story on Texas A&M’s reaction to its loss to Texas, please see Richard Croome’s story in the Bryan Eagle.

Clemens powers Texas past Texas A&M in NCAA regional

Kody Clemens set the tone with a three-run homer in the first inning, powering the Texas Longhorns past the in-state rival Texas A&M Aggies 8-3 Saturday night at the NCAA Austin Regional.

Clemens, the Big 12 Player of the Year, hit two homers on the day and produced four RBI.

With the victory, the Longhorns moved into Sunday night’s regional championship game at Disch-Falk Field against either Indiana or Texas A&M.

Indiana and A&M will play Sunday afternoon, with the winner earning a shot against Texas Sunday night. If either Indiana or A&M beat Texas, a deciding game would be played Monday at Disch-Falk.

Regardless of the opponent, the Longhorns appear to have a good shot at winning the tournament and advancing to the NCAA Super Regional round for the first time since 2014.

UT fans were into the game from the beginning as Clemens, a left-handed hitter, greeted A&M righty and starter Mitchell Kilkenny with a three-run homer over the right field wall in the first.

In the third, the Aggies of the Southeastern Conference rallied against UT pitcher Nolan Kingham to pull within 3-1 on an RBI bunt single from Michael Helman.

But the Big 12 regular-season champions would explode for two runs each in the fourth and the fifth innings and another in the sixth for an 8-1 lead.

DJ Petrinski hit a solo homer in the fourth and Clemens added a solo shot in the sixth.

It was Petrinski’s second home run in two nights and his eighth on the season. For Clemens, the son of former UT and major league star Roger Clemens, he increased his team-leading total to 21.

Pitching against a team with a .285 batting average, Kingham (8-3) worked effectively through 7 and 2/3 innings. He struck out eight and walked one. Kingham yielded nine hits and three runs, two of them earned.

Zach DeLoach and Logan Foster, who both had three hits in Texas A&M’s 10-3 victory Friday over Indiana, produced only one hit between them. Helman, Chris Andritsos and Will Frizzell had two hits apiece.

Kilkenny, the first of five A&M pitchers, lasted only four innings. Even though he worked out of trouble a few times, he gave up five runs on seven hits.


Texas 39-20
Texas A&M 40-21


Officials announced a sellout crowd of 7,046 for UT and A&M, longtime intra-conference rivals in the Southwest Conference and the Big 12. A&M left the Big 12 and joined the SEC for the 2012-13 season.

Kilkenny (8-5) took the loss. Kingham (8-3) was credited with the win.

Earlier in the day Saturday, Indiana of the Big Ten stayed alive in the tournament with a 6-0 victory over Texas Southern. The loss eliminates the Tigers of the Southwestern Athletic Conference.

Kody Clemens leads the Texas Longhorns with his hot bat

Texas infielder Kody Clemens hit for a .500 average over three games in Lubbock last weekend. He also belted three home runs and produced five RBI.

In addition, the Longhorns thoroughly enjoyed a productive weekend as a team, winning two of three from the nationally-ranked Texas Tech Red Raiders.

It’s easy to see that the former had something to do with the latter.

But in Clemens’ case, you get the feeling that Texas probably won’t ascend to the heights that it wants to reach this season without a strong finish from him.

For example, let’s examine Clemens’ last cold spell with the bat.

In a six-game stretch over the last week of April, Clemens went 2 for 23 at the plate, a streak that included the last two games of a home series against New Orleans, one at home against Houston and three on the road at West Virginia.

For whatever reason, Clemens wasn’t producing. The result? Texas went 3-3, which included two Big 12 losses in three tries against West Virginia in Morgantown.

Since then, the Longhorns have played much better, winning a mid-week game last week against Texas State and then taking two of three at Texas Tech, a performance in conference that keeps them in contention to host an NCAA regional.

During that stretch, Clemens has been on fire, pounding out nine hits and scoring six runs. Against the Red Raiders, he went 7 for 14. He slugged two home runs in Game 1 and another in Game 3, both UT victories.

Now, Texas finds itself moving up in the rankings and battling for a shot to play at home on the first week of the national tournament. Clemens is hardly the only reason the Longhorns won in Lubbock.

The Longhorns boast a talented roster with Zach Zubia, Duke Ellis and David Hamilton enjoying strong seasons offensively. A 4.62 team earned run average by the pitching staff is not the greatest, but a .976 fielding percentage (40th in the nation) is solid.

Then again, it seems Texas has been at its best lately when Clemens, the son of former UT star Roger Clemens, is riding a hot streak at the plate. Right now, Clemens is among the hottest hitters in the Big 12, which can only be a good thing for the Longhorns.

Top 25 rankings
(Baseball AmericaO
1.Florida 38-11 SEC
2. Stanford 37-6 Pac-12
3. North Carolina 32-13 ACC
4. Oregon State 35-7-1 Pac-12
5. Mississippi 36-13 SEC
6. Arkansas 33-15 SEC
7. North Carolina State 34-12 ACC
8. Clemson 35-12 ACC
9. Duke 35-11 ACC
10. Texas Tech 35-14 Big 12
11. UCLA 30-13 Pac-12
12. Georgia 33-14 SEC
13. Southern Miss 35-12 Conference USA
14. East Carolina 33-12 American
15. Minnesota 32-12 Big Ten
16. Florida State 32-15 ACC
17. Texas 33-18 Big 12
18. Auburn 34-14 SEC
19. Coastal Carolina 32-16 Sun Belt
20. Oklahoma State 28-17 Big 12
21. Kentucky 30-17 SEC
22. Stetson 37-11 Atlantic Sun
23. South Florida 29-15 American
24. Tennessee Tech 40-6 Ohio Valley
25. Connecticut 27-14 American