He raised his arm and took his time starting around the bases, two things he never does.
“And I’ll never do it again,” Kyle Russell said.
But this home run meant something.
Russell, the Longhorns’ right fielder, drilled a ball far over the left-field fence and pumped his fist because he knew.
Russell had just set Texas’ single-season record for home runs with his 21st, a long rainbow that fell well outside of Reckling Park.
Russell was the lone bright spot Tuesday, when Texas’ 10-game winning streak over Rice came to an end in a 7-4 loss in front of 5,003 fans.
“It’s a great honor and a great relief for this to happen,” said Russell, who typically just puts his head down and trots around the bases. “This is the second-best place for this to happen. The best being Austin.”
Russell, who began his career as a Longhorn by hitting a homer against Rice, grew up in Magnolia, a suburb of Houston.
Behind 1-2 in the count in the sixth inning, he went with an outside pitch from Rice starter Chris Kelley.
“He just tried to put it in play, and that’s what he has been doing,” Texas coach Augie Garrido said. “He’s been playing for the team, not the record. That’s probably why he was able to get it.”
His team-first attitude explained why Russell was upset that he raised his arm after his home run, which came with his team trailing 4-2.
“I guess my emotions got the better of me,” said Russell, who was on the team bus after the loss, not even realizing the media would want to talk to him about his record-setting homer.
It took Russell just 42 games to accomplish the feat.
Rice, meanwhile, beat Texas for the first time since 2003, when the Owls topped the Longhorns 5-4 in Omaha, Neb., en route to the national championship.
Every time the Longhorns scored Tuesday, the Owls (30-11) responded.
“That’s why they won the game, they did a better job of responding,” Garrido said. “And they kept our offensive game in check with good defense and excellent pitching.”
Texas (31-11) managed to push across the tying run in the fourth inning, when Russell walked, Bradley Suttle singled and Russell Moldenhauer sacrificed them to second and third. Russell scored on Preston Clark’s grounder to short.
The Owls pushed a run across in the bottom of the inning to go up 2-1.
Russell homered in the sixth to make it 4-2, but Rice responded again, as Chad Lembeck hit a two-run double to give the Owls a four-run lead.
And after Texas came up with two runs in the seventh, cutting the lead to 6-4, Rice’s Joe Savery hit his third home run of the season.
Jordan Danks and Chance Wheeless, who hit first and second for Texas, were a combined 0 for 9 with six strikeouts, but that wasn’t the Longhorns’ only problem.
Texas used six pitchers, who combined to walk seven and hit another batter.
“What happened on the mound between the two teams was the difference in the game,” Garrido said. “It’s baseball. Things like that happen.”
So do home runs.
Especially off of Kyle Russell’s bat.