Things seemed gloomy for Texas after their series against Oklahoma State. Now, one week later, following a series win over West Virginia, the Longhorns are right back in the running to be a regional host when the NCAA tournament begins.
Following the cancellation of Friday’s game due to inclement weather, game one was shifted to Saturday as the opening day of a doubleheader. However, regular Friday starter Pete Hansen delivered his customary outstanding performance, twirling 8 2/3 innings of two-run baseball, striking out eight and allowing six hits before Tristan Stevens stepped in to record the last out of the bullpen and pick up the save.
Game 1: Texas 5 West Virginia 2
Offensively for Texas, another standout performance from Golden Spikes Candidate Ivan Melendez led the way. Melendez would launch a moonshot of a solo home run down the left-field line and out of the stadium to give Texas a 2-0 lead in the sixth inning. He would also contribute another RBI on a sac fly in the seventh, making it a 4-0 Texas game. Elsewhere in the Texas lineup, Murphy Stehly, Austin Todd and Dylan Campbell would drive in the other three Texas runs, helping Texas pick up the 5-2 win in game one.
The Longhorn offense rewarded Gordon’s dominance on the mound, giving him plenty of run support to pitch stress-free innings. Once again leading the charge was phenom Ivan Melendez, as he would blast two home runs, giving him an NCAA best 25 on the season, and drive in four runs. Melendez would not be the only Longhorn to flex their power though, as Doug Hodo, Trey Faltine and Austin Todd would also contribute to the 11-0 rout, helping Texas clinch the series victory in run-rule fashion.
Game 2: Texas 11 West Virginia 0 (7 inn.)
Rather than turn to their usual Saturday starter Tristan Stevens for the second game of the doubleheader, the Longhorns threw Sunday starter, Lucas Gordon. In return Gordon would pitch the best start of his career to date, tossing a complete-game shutout. Gordon would face one more than the minimum in his seven shutout innings, only allowing two hits and racking up five strikeouts in his fifth win of the season.
Game 3: Texas 6 West Virginia 8
Game three looked to start strong for the Longhorns as they jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the top of the first off RBI from Melendez, Stehly and Campbell. However, that lead would be short-lived as Texas starter Zane Morehouse would give up three runs in the bottom of the second, allowing West Virginia to make it a 3-3 ballgame.
Texas would retake the lead in the fourth on a Hodo two-run single, giving Texas a 5-3 lead. Again, though, that lead would not last as Texas’ bullpen woes would rear their ugly head once again in this game. The Texas pitching staff would give up five unanswered runs to West Virginia, as they would head to the ninth trailing 8-5. The Longhorns did scratch across one final run on a Dylan Campbell RBI fielder’s choice in the top of the ninth, but they would ultimately drop the series finale and not complete the sweep.
What’s next for Texas?
The Longhorns have five regular-season games left with all five to be played at home. They welcome Texas Southern to Austin on Tuesday before having the weekend off as they prepare for their final four games the week after. Texas will look to end the season strong as postseason play inches closer.
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