Texas baseball downs UCF 6-3 in series opener

Looking for their fifth consecutive Big 12 series win, Texas baseball got off on the right foot with a 6-3 win on Friday night in the first game in program history against the UCF Knights.
Texas pitcher Max Grubbs (38) throws a pitch in game two of the Big 12 baseball series against Texas
Texas pitcher Max Grubbs (38) throws a pitch in game two of the Big 12 baseball series against Texas / Chase Seabolt/For the Avalanche-Journal

Texas baseball (30-19, 15-9 Big 12) traveled to Orlando this weekend to take on the UCF Knights (30-15, 11-12 Big 12) for the first time in program history. The Longhorns, looking for their fifth consecutive Big 12 series win, got off on the right foot with a 6-3 win on Friday night.

Texas baseball defeats UCF behind a strong start from Max Grubbs

Texas entered the weekend in a three-way tie for second place in the Big 12 with Oklahoma State and West Virginia. The trio is three games behind the Oklahoma Sooners in first place. Although an outright regular season title may be out of reach, a solid close to the season is essential for conference and NCAA tournament seeding.

Sophomore Max Grubbs got the start - his tenth of the season. After a solid beginning to the season, Grubbs has hit a rough patch over the last month. He had an ERA of 6.32 in his previous five appearances, with just one quality start.

Grubbs got back on track Friday night against the Knights.

The sophomore went 5.2 IP, giving up seven hits and just one run while racking up five strikeouts. After a walk, single, and sac fly to start the game, Grubbs locked in and showed some of his best stuff of the past month.

On the offensive side of the ball, Will Gasparino's second-inning fielder's choice knotted the score at one.

Porter Brown opened up the fourth inning with an infield single. Two batters later, Gasparino blasted a two-run home run to left. It was the freshman's 12th homer of the year and the 100th for the team.

Texas added on to its lead in the sixth inning via some small ball from Jack O'Dowd and Porter Brown.

Despite a 4-1 lead, this was not any easy game for the Horns to finish off.

In the bottom of the seventh, with Andre Duplantier II on the mound, UCF added a few runs. Andrew Brait followed Mikey Kluska's leadoff single with a single of his own. The Horns made two throwing errors as they attempted to throw Kluska and Brait out on the basepaths.

Kluska scored on the play, and Brait came around to score two batters later on a sac fly.

Up 4-3 in the bottom of the eighth, Texas closer Gage Boehm entered the game looking for a six-out save. Boehm has been dominant of late, giving up just one earned run over his last 16.1 innings. However, things got a little sticky for the Texas right-hander in the bottom of the eighth.

After recording the first two outs without much of a problem, Boehm gave up three consecutive walks to load the bases. Boehm had given up just eight walks in 37.1 innings of work before this appearance.

With his back against the wall, the Taylor, Texas native got Brait to fly out to right to end the inning.

Texas added two much-needed insurance runs in the top of the ninth. A Dee Kennedy single followed by a Jared Thomas double set up a Jalin Flores two-run RBI single to left. It was Flores' 45th and 46th RBI on the season, overtaking Max Belyeu for tops on the team.

Boehm came back out for the bottom of the ninth and had no problem shutting the door on the Knights' 2-3-4 hitters, capping off the victory with a nifty play by Thomas at first base.

Texas will try to win its fifth consecutive series tomorrow when they return to Orlando for a 5 p.m. CT first pitch. Ace Whitehead is the Horns' probable starter. The game can be streamed on Big 12 Now on ESPN+ or via the Longhorn Radio Network.

Texas Baseball Players of the Game:

  • M. Grubbs: 5.2 IP, 1 ER, 7 H, 5 K
  • J. Thomas: 2-5, R, 2B, SB
  • P. Brown: 2-3, 2 R, BB
  • W. Gasparino: 1-4, HR, 3 RBI

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