Home, sweet home.
After spending 10 of 11 games away from UFCU Disch-Falk Field, the No. 2 Texas Longhorns took advantage of the opener in a get-right weekend series, pummeling the Incarnate Word Cardinals 19-2 on Friday evening.
After scoring 18 runs on Wednesday, a season high, the Longhorns exceed their output in Charleston on 17 hits, including seven extra-base knocks.
Right fielder Murphy Stehly led the way with a 4-for-5 performance with a career-high six RBI and three runs, highlighted by a three-run home run in the first inning that gave the Longhorns a lead they would never relinquish. Third baseman Skyler Messinger added three hits and center fielder Douglas Hodo III had a three-run home run during a nine-run fifth inning that featured all nine players scoring, all of it coming with two outs. In the eighth inning, left fielder Eric Kennedy hit his third home run of the season, a two-run blast over the right-field fence.
Left-hander Pete Hansen allowed a leadoff walk to start the game that led to a run following a single and a groundout, but Texas responded with a trademark two-out rally in the bottom of the inning. First baseman Ivan Melendez drew a four-pitch walk and catcher Silas Ardoin followed with a full-count free pass before Stehly decisively left the Disch.
Stehly provided Hansen a little assistance to get out of the second inning, making a nice running catch on the warning track in right field. The versatile Stehly has played multiple positions for Texas and may need to remain the starting right fielder with super senior Austin Todd out with a separated shoulder, so seeing his range flash was a big positive for the Longhorns.
In the bottom of the inning, Texas jumped on Incarnate Word ace Michael Garza much more quickly. Shortstop Trey Faltine double down the right-field line past the Cardinals third baseman and second baseman Mitchell Daly used a short, opposite-field swing on a full count to line a double into the right-center gap and score Faltine.
Stehley stayed hot at the plate in the third inning with a leadoff single, then stole second base and scored on a double by Messinger that barely stayed in fair territory down the third-base line. Texas added another run to take a 6-1 lead when the shortstop threw the ball away on a grounder by Daly into the hole, a play ruled an error by a harsh scorekeeper.
After the first inning, Hansen retired 10 straight batters, aided by Stehly’s play in right, two good efforts by Messinger at third, and a spectacular diving play by Faltine on a hot shot up the middle.
On a chopper up the middle, Hansen wasn’t able to come up with a play to finally allow a baserunner, but quickly ended the inning with a tailor-made double play started by Faltine.
Texas drove Garza from the game in the fourth inning. After three walks, including a third straight by Melendez, Stehly came through with his fourth and fifth RBI thanks to his third hit, blistered through the hole between shortstop and third. Garza departed after allowing six hits — he entered Friday’s game having allowed only five free passes in 19.2 innings — as the Incarnate Word starter simply wasn’t able to command his off-speed offerings.
The Cardinals were able to get to Hansen again in the fifth inning, using back-to-back doubles to lead off the inning and cut the lead to 8-2. Hansen bounced back by retiring the next three batters, the second two via strikeouts.
An infield single by Kennedy, a Melendez hit by pitch, and a single by Ardoin through the right side of the infield got the run back for Texas thanks to another two-out rally. Stehly followed with his fourth hit to drive in his sixth run. With two outs and the bases loaded, Messinger came through with a double, fisting a ball down the left-field line to drive in two runs and push the Texas lead to 12-2.
Hodo III joined the action after Faltine walked and Daly singled up the middle to score two runs, barreling up a 2-1 hit and driving it out over the fence in left-center for a three-run home run and a 17-2 lead.
Hansen departed after five innings, bouncing back from the worst start of his career in allowing two runs on four hits with six strikeouts and one walk.
The massive lead provided ample opportunities for some players to get right.
First up was right-hander Daniel Blair, who had allowed six runs without recording an out in his last two appearances. Blair gave up a leadoff single before inducing a flyout and a 5-4-3 double play to face the minimum. With a fastball reaching 93 mph, Blair was able to use his changeup to get a strikeout in the seventh inning, which he go through with relative ease despite allowing two walks.
Next up was right-hander Joshua Stewart, who only lasted one inning in his first career start against The Citadel in Charleston on Wednesday. Stewart showed better command in working through a 1-2-3 inning he closed with a strikeout on a big curveball.
Catcher Kimble Schuessler picked up his second hit of the season in the eighth inning after replacing Ardoin, but Dylan Campbell struck out looking pinch-hitting for Stehly.
In the ninth, it was right-hander Andre Duplantier who got the opportunity to recover from catastrophic starts against Texas State and College of Charleston. Duplantier was able to retire the first two batters he faced, gave up a single to right, and ended the game on a line drive to Faltine at shortstop.
Texas returns to the Disch at 2:30 p.m. Central with right-hander Tristan Stevens taking the mound and Longhorn Network broadcasting the game.