by Andrew J. FerraroDaily Cougar Staff
After sweeping the Rice Owls this weekend at Disch-Falk Field, the Texas Longhorns are now "closer than they appear" in the rear view mirror of the Southwest Conference-leading Texas Tech Red Raiders.
"It was imperative that we win those games to keep up with (Texas) Tech," said Texas coach Cliff Gustafson, "because they are on a rampage right now."
Tech is currently 35-4, 10-2 in the SWC and is on a record-setting pace for wins this season.
The Longhorns (24-13, 6-2 in the SWC) have not lost a game since they were defeated by the Texas A&M Aggies 8-4 at Cougar Field during the SWC First Pitch Tournament.
"Overall, for the (Rice) series, we got pretty good performances from our pitchers," Gustafson said. "We got some big clutch hits and some clutch home runs that helped us out."
Indeed, they did.
In the series opener, first baseman Danny Peoples hit a home run and collected three RBIs as the Longhorns held off a late Owls rally to take game one 9-6.
Jake O'Dell started for Texas and gave up six runs on nine hits, while walking four and striking out seven.
In game one of Saturday's double header, Rice had a 4-2 lead going into the bottom of the third inning before Texas came out with a three spot and did not look back.
The Longhorns scored six runs in the final three innings and were led by center fielder Clint Kiemsteadt, who hit 2-for-4 and had his fourth homer and two RBIs.
Peoples also homered for the Longhorns as he went 1-for-2 for the day with two walks and three RBIs.
In the second game of the double header, Texas scored three runs in the bottom of the ninth to win the game 7-6.
Although Rice pitching held them to just seven hits, Texas got key hits at the right time.
In the series finale, Texas starter Scott Leon blanked the Owls 12-0, limiting them to just two hits, completing the sweep for Texas.
Peoples was again stellar, and finished the series hitting .500 (5-for-10) with 10 RBIs, three home runs and eight walks.
"We felt like we had an extremely good weekend," Gustafson said. "We played well, (and) we pitched well."