In a series opener moved twice due to bad weather in Columbia, the No. 1 Texas Longhorns were dominant offensively to overcome the worst start of left-hander Pete Hansen’s stellar career, beating the South Carolina Gamecocks 9-5 behind three home runs and 14 hits.
First baseman Ivan Melendez wasted little time announcing his presence at Founders Park, smashing a first-inning home run off the batter’s eye in center field on a hanging breaking ball after center fielder Douglas Hodo III led off the game with a single.
Hansen promptly gave up the lead, allowing three runs on four hits in the bottom of the first, matching the worst performance of his career in runs allowed after only three outs. The Texas ace gave up single runs in the fourth and fifth innings and South Carolina was able to record nine total hits against Hansen in his six innings of work. He struck out six.
The Longhorns regained the lead in the second inning on a triple by Hodo to score shortstop Trey Faltine and designated hitter Murphy Stehly.
The run by the Gamecocks in the fourth inning tied the game at 4-4, but Stehly doubled and scored on a single by third baseman Skyler Messinger in the fifth inning and Faltine broke the game open with an opposite-field, two-run home run.
Melendez left two runners on base with a groundout in the second inning and a fielder’s choice in the fourth, but came through again with another titanic two-run blast, this time on an 87 mph fastball over the heart of the plate, his eighth of the season.
Right-handers Travis Sthele and Jared Southard slammed the door on South Carolina, which has now lost five games in a row. Sthele allowed two hits and no runs in two innings of work, while Southard worked the ninth, allowing a walk and striking out two batters.
Hodo finished the day 3-for-5 with two RBI and two runs scored, setting the table for both of the home runs by Melendez, who finished 2-for-5 with his two home runs, four RBI, and two runs scored. Stehly continued his torrid start to the season with a 3-for-3 performance with a walk and two runs scored and is now hitting .491 for the year. Faltine added two hits, two runs and two RBI.
Texas returns to the field at Founders Park for a Sunday double-header starting at 12:30 p.m. Central on SEC Network+.