· Box score
|Senior Ryan Proudfoot kept UTSA within striking distance with 4.1 strong innings of relief on Tuesday.
— No. 1 Texas withstood a pair of late-inning rallies by UTSA and the Longhorns were able to run their winning streak to 17 games with a hard-fought 6-4 victory on Tuesday night at UFCU Disch-Falk Field.
Trailing 5-1 entering the eighth, the Roadrunners (14-24) scored a pair of runs with two down in the inning and, after UT (35-7) added an insurance run in the bottom of the frame, UTSA scored once again with two out and put the tying runs in scoring position in the ninth. However, UT closer Chance Ruffin, the last of a half dozen Longhorns pitchers, struck out senior Ryan Rummel to pick up his 10th save of the season.
After seeing nine of 10 batters get retired in stanzas five through seven, the Birds got a one-out single from freshman Daniel Rockett to start the eighth-inning rally and Rummel laced his team-leading 12th double of the spring to right center two batters later to plate UTSA's center fielder. Freshman Ryan Dalton followed with an infield single in front of the plate and Stayton Thomas' throw to first was wide, allowing Rummel to pull the Roadrunners' within two. Texas pitching coach Skip Johnson then called on Ruffin and the right-hander wiggled out of the jam after giving up a base hit to junior Ryan Hutson by striking out sophomore Casey Selsor on three pitches.
Junior Tyler Carpenter began the final-inning dramatics with a two-out double to right center, which extended his career-long hitting streak to 19 games (second time in five contests that he kept the streak alive in final at-bat). Rockett followed with a perfectly-executed bunt down the third-base line and senior Lance Brown drew UTSA within two with his single to center. Cameron Rowe misplayed the hit, allowing Rockett to move to third and Brown went to second on the throw, but that would be as close as the Birds would get.
Keifer Nuncio (2-0), who relieved starter Sam Stafford with runners on first and second and nobody out in the second, retired five of the seven Roadrunners he faced in the second and third innings to pick up the victory.
"I thought the guys showed a lot of heart in the late innings," head coach Sherman Corbett said. "They played hard and didn't give an inch against the top-ranked team in the country. Even though we lost the game, we definitely can build on this as we enter the last four weeks of the regular season."
UTSA took a 1-0 advantage in the second when it began the frame with a pair of walks sandwiched around a hit batter. The Roadrunners then were able to push across just the sixth run in 33 bases-loaded situations against the UT pitching staff this season when senior Jeff Taliaferro lifted a sacrifice fly to left. Nuncio was able to coax a double-play grounder off the bat of Carpenter to get out of the frame with no more damage.
Texas answered with a three-spot in the bottom of the stanza to take the lead for good.
UTSA Kevin Lusson led off the inning with a double and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Jonathan Walsh. Lusson tied the game when UTSA starter D.D. Towler (1-5) balked on a 1-0 pitch to following batter, Connor Rowe. Rowe went on to draw a walk and he promptly stole second before being moved to third on a grounder to first. Cohl Walla then launched a towering shot down the left-field line for his fifth home run of the year, giving the Longhorns their first lead of the night.
UT went on to add a pair of insurance runs in the fourth on run-scoring bunts by Rowe and Jordan Etier and, for the next three innings, it looked like it would be more than enough.
Towler gave up five runs (four earned) on six hits, walked three and fanned three in his 3.2 innings.
Meanwhile, senior Ryan Proudfoot kept the Roadrunners close by retiring 10 of the first 12 hitters he faced. The Lindale native, who threw a complete-game victory in the team's last meeting two years ago, allowed just a run on two hits and fanned four in 4.1 panels.
UTSA, which was playing its first-ever contest against the nation's top-ranked team, got two hits apiece from Brown, Dalton, Rockett and Rummel.
Lusson and Walla both went 2-for-3 and Tant Shepherd added a pair of safeties to extend his hitting streak to 13 games to lead Texas at the plate.
The Birds continue their season-long nine-game road trip on Friday night when they make the 54-mile trip up IH-35 to face the Southland Conference's top team, No. 30 Texas State (25-14, 15-6 SLC). First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at Bobcat Field.