To complete a four-game homestand before the start of Big 12 play against the No. 16 Texas Tech Red Raiders, the No. 2 Texas Longhorns host the Central Arkansas Bears on Tuesday at UFCU Disch-Falk Field.
Texas enters the contest with a four-game winning streak that started last Wednesday on the road against the Citadel and face off against Central Arkansas for the second time ever attempting to maintain the team’s recent momentum.
While hosting Incarnate Word over the weekend, head coach David Pierce’s group outscored the Cardinals 41-4, batting .388 with 10 doubles and seven homers, led by Big 12 Player of the Week Murphy Stehly, who became the sixth player in school history to hit three home runs in a game. Over the four games last week, Stehly hit .545 with four home runs, 14 RBI, and had at least three hits in three of those games. For the season, Stehly is batting.458 with 38 hits, nine doubles, five homers, 22 RBI, and 19 runs scored.
Against Incarnate Word, the Texas pitchers performed at a high level, too, with a 1.33 ERA while holding the Cardinals to a .191 average.
Texas sends right-hander Justin Eckhardt (0-0, 5.68) to the mound for his third start of the season instead of right-hander Andre Duplantier, the midweek starter along with new Sunday starter Lucas Gordon earlier in the year. Duplantier gave up a six-run inning against Texas State two weeks ago and allowed five runs in the first inning in last week’s loss to College of Charleston, after which he was pulled from the game. Eckhardt came on in relief against the Cougars and was solid, allowing two runs on four hits over 3.1 innings with three strikeouts and a walk.
If Eckhardt struggles to get deep into the game, the Longhorns could once again turn to right-hander Travis Sthele for an extended outing — the San Antonio product threw 57 pitches over 3.2 superb innings against the Citadel, striking out eight while allowing only two hits in his scoreless outing. But Pierce may prefer instead to get work for a number of pitchers and only use Sthele for that many outs if Eckhardt gets knocked out early. Left-hander Lucas Harrison, for instance, hasn’t made an appearance since last Tuesday and is becoming an increasingly important option out of the bullpen.
Central Arkansas arrives in Austin at 7-11 on the season after hitting .311 in the program’s first ASUN series win, beating Bellarmine in two of three games. Catcher Noah Argenta led the way in the batter’s box, hitting .600 with his first home run of the season while center fielder Drew Sturgeon knocked in eight runs, a team best. The Bears have not announced a starter for the game.
First pitch is at 6:30 p.m. Central on Longhorn Network.