A three-run home run in the second inning by center fielder Douglas Hodo III and another big-time starting performance by right-hander Tristan Stevens pushed the No. 1 Texas Longhorns to a resounding 6-1 win against the No. 7 LSU Tigers at Minute Maid Park in Houston on Saturday in the Shriners Hospitals for Children College Classic.
With the win, the Longhorns remain undefeated this season at 11-0 and sent a message to college baseball about their continued supremacy in that position.
Texas catcher Silas Ardoin smashed a line drive off the wall in left center for a leadoff double in the second inning and right fielder Dylan Campbell’s swinging bunt resulted in a throwing error by LSU starting pitcher TJ Floyd that scored Ardoin and allowed shortstop Trey Faltine to advance to second after his intentional walk.
On a low 2-0 pitch that Hodo dropped his bat head on to for a resounding three-home run over the Crawford Boxes, Texas took a commanding 4-0 lead and never gave it up.
The Longhorns added insurance runs in the seventh and eighth innings. In the seventh, Hodo earned a one-out walk and moved to second on a passed ball. When left fielder Eric Kennedy lined a scorching drive almost to the wall in right field, Hodo took advantage of an error on the relay to score easily. An inning later, designated hitter Murphy Stehly pulled his hands in for a home run into the Crawford Boxes, an impressive piece of hitting.
Stevens, the starter for Texas with a reputation as a fast and efficient worker on the mound, retired the side in the first on six pitches with his sinker reaching 92 miles per hour and showing tremendous glove-side movement. In the second, he needed three more pitches to get through another perfect inning, putting his tally at 15 pitches through two innings.
In the third, Stevens finally gave up a one-out single, but Kennedy helped him out in left field with a great jump and a nice diving play on a well-hit ball into the gap. Hitting the next batter put runners on first and second before Stevens struck Dylan Crews out looking on three excellent sliders.
Stevens continued to deal in the fifth.
In the sixth, Stevens gave up good contact on two long fly balls to the warning track in right field and deep into the power alley in left center, but was able to use a slider at 81 to strike out Crews again with runners on first and second.
Stevens left the game after seven scoreless innings, having allowed five hits with seven strikeouts. Over 19 innings this season, the Missouri native who came out of junior college, bounced back from Tommy John surgery, and overcame going unselected in the 2021 MLB Draft has now pitched 19 innings this season without a single earned run or unearned run.
However, in a repeat of Friday’s win over No. 17 Tennessee, the bullpen innings were hardly without drama.
Right-hander Andre Duplantier showed no confidence in his fastball and struggled to effectively locate multiple breaking balls in the eighth inning after second baseman Mitchell Daly opened the frame with an error on a routine ground ball. After a walk by Duplantier, the Texas reliever gave up a single and a sacrifice fly before allowing another walk. A four-pitch strikeout swinging by Duplantier ended his outing in favor of left-hander Luke Harrison, who recorded a strikeout on three pitches on Friday against Tennessee.
Harrison came through again, needing a mere three pitches to punch out pinch-hitter Hayden Trevinski.
To finish the game, Harrison induced a double play to erase a leadoff walk before allowing a single and a double to put some pressure on the freshman once again. On a 2-0 pitch, Harrison forced a groundout to third base and the Longhorns prevailed in Houston for a second straight game.
Texas sends right-hander Tanner Witt to the mound against UCLA at 3 p.m. Central on Sunday.
The game will be televised nationally on MLB Network, regionally by AT&T SportsNet SW, and streamed nationally on Astros.com. Astros Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube accounts, as well as the MLB app, will all televise the games, too.