The Texas Longhorns started their NCAA baseball regional with an 11-0 win over Southern University on Friday afternoon in Austin. Here are three takeaways from the game as the Longhorns prepare for Saturday’s game.
1. A Little Mercy, Maybe?
There was no such luck for Southern in this game, as Texas jumped on them for seven runs in the first three innings and cruised to the victory. The heart of the order supplied the power. Mitchell Daly went 1-for-3 and drove in three runs. Zach Zubia went 3-for-4 with 2 RBI. Ivan Melendez was 2-for-5 with an RBI and hit one of Texas’ two home runs. Cam Williams went 2-for-5 with 2 RBI and the other Texas home run. The bottom of the order got involved, too, as Douglas Hodo III, Trey Faltine and Silas Adroin each had two hits. It was that kind of day for Texas, and it bodes well for the rest of the regional.
This also isn’t a surprise to Texas fans or opponents. The Longhorns have had a surprisingly consistent lineup all season, as each of those players have started at least 49 games entering the postseason. Keeping them healthy and hungry will be key for the Longhorns in getting back to Omaha.
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2. Stevens Shuts Out the Jags
While some high seeds struggled around the country on Friday, the Longhorns simply did not, and starting pitcher Tristan Stevens was a big reason why. Stevens entered the game with a 2.99 earned run average and a 9-3 record this season, and he became the first Longhorns pitcher to win 10 games this season. He threw seven innings, gave up four runs, and struck out six. Also key? He didn’t walk anyone and forced 10 ground-outs. It marked the third straight games in which Stevens lasted into the seventh inning. In fact, Stevens hasn’t failed to go at least six innings since he threw 5 2/3rd innings against Houston on March 6.
Tournaments like this can be dangerous for a highly-seeded team like Texas if the Game 1 starter isn’t sharp. Stevens made certain he was as the top of his game. Yes, Southern did enter this tournament with a losing overall record. But the Jaguars won five of six games at the Southwestern Athletic Conference Tournament. Stevens and the Longhorns made sure the Jags didn’t sneak up on them.
3. What’s Next?
The conventional wisdom is that the Longhorns will probably face Arizona State on Saturday. The Sun Devils face Fairfield on Friday evening. Like Texas, the Sun Devils are one of the traditional powerhouses of college baseball. Texas has set itself up well for the matchup, assuming it happens. Stevens’ sharp outing means Texas head coach David Pierce is free to use Big 12 Pitcher of the Year Ty Madden on Saturday, if he wishes to do so.
Given what’s at stake, a start by Madden is likely. If Texas wins on Saturday, then the Longhorns avoid the potential of playing two games in one day on Sunday in an effort to stay alive.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.
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