The No. 1 Texas Longhorns remain undefeated to start the 2022 season, sweeping the Alabama Crimson Tide with a 6-1 victory on Sunday at UFCU Disch-Falk Field behind 13 hits and six strong innings from right-hander Tanner Witt.
Designated hitter Murphy Stehly went 3-for-5 at the plate hitting in the two spot with left fielder Eric Kennedy sitting out, including a run-scoring triple in the eighth inning, and shortstop Trey Faltine had a big two-run single in the sixth inning to break a 1-1 tie.
A home run by Alabama in the fifth inning marked the first earned run allowed by the Texas pitching staff in 41.2 innings pitched and the only run scored by the Crimson Tide in the series. But Witt was able to limit further damage, recording the final two outs in the fifth with a runner on second base and then pitching out of a bases-loaded jam in the sixth inning.
A single led off the inning and after a three-pitch strikeout, Alabama singled again to left field on short popup pushed back towards the infield by the wind. A fielder’s choice gave the Longhorns two outs in the inning, but wasn’t hit hard enough for Faltine to turn the double play at shortstop and a full-count walk loaded the bases. Witt responded with another three-pitch strikeout, the ninth of the game and a career high for the sophomore.
Witt threw 90 pitches through six innings after battling through his final two frames, allowing four hits and a walk with the one earned run. His six innings pitched marked his longest outing with the Longhorns in his second career start.
Second baseman Mitchell Daly smashed a double to the wall in right center to lead off the bottom of the sixth inning, but was tagged out on a base-running mistake when catcher Silas Ardoin hit a ground ball to the Alabama shortstop. Right fielder Austin Todd followed with a full-count walk and third baseman Skyler Messinger loaded the bases on a high chopper that the Crimson Tide pitcher lost in the sun for an error. With Faltine at the plate, the Longhorns broke the 1-1 game open with a 2-0 single to left field that scored two runs and added another run on a single through the left side of the infield by left fielder Dylan Campbell.
A bunt single and a hit by pitch immediately put pressure on left-hander Lucas Gordon in the seventh inning. Gordon bounced back with a pop fly to left field, a snap throw by Ardoin picked off the runner at first, and Gordon quickly ended the threat with a strikeout.
Thanks to outstanding defensive plays by Daly at second base and Faltine at shortstop, Gordon only needed five pitches to get through the eighth inning.
Texas added some insurance runs in the bottom of the inning — Campbell scored on a balk after drawing a walk and advancing to third on a single by center fielder Douglas Hodo III and Hodo scored on a triple by designated hitter Murphy Stehly to right center on drive that almost left the ballpark.
Right-handed closer Aaron Nixon allowed two hits in the ninth, but also struck out two batters as he once again made up for his struggles with his fastball command by locating his slider well.
Texas trips to Huntsville this week for a Tuesday matchup with Sam Houston State before traveling to Houston next weekend to face Tennessee, LSU, and UCLA in the Shriners Hospitals for Children College Classic at Minute Maid Park. Of the next 11 games, 10 will be away from the Disch.