On a warm and windy Sunday afternoon in Austin, a crowd of 7,106 fans at RBFCU Disch-Falk Field watched No. 7 Texas turn in a gutty performance to beat No. 23 TCU and win the conference series.
The Longhorns were led offensively by sophomore catcher Silas Ardoin who was 3 for 3, with a double and a run scored. First baseman Ivan Melendez was 2 for 4 with a homerun, 3 RBI, and a run scored. Centerfielder Douglas Hodo, III, went 2 for 4 at the plate with an RBI and 2 runs scored.
The Horned Frogs’ offense was led by shortstop Tommy Sacco who was 2 for 2 with a run scored. Third baseman Brayden Taylor added a homerun for TCU.
Starting pitchers Lucas Gordon for Texas and Brett Walker for TCU started out hot. Both pitchers turned in three up, three down innings in the first frame.
The Horned Frogs opened the scoring in the top of the second inning. After striking out the first batter, Gordon gave up a single to Sacco. TCU catcher Kurtis Byrne then ripped a double to the right centerfield wall to score Sacco, and put the Frogs up 1-0. Gordon struck out the next two batters to end the inning.
The Longhorns threatened in the bottom of the second inning, but with runners at the corners, second baseman Mitchell Daly popped out to TCU first baseman David Bishop in foul ground to end the inning.
Gordon had another three up, three down inning in the 3rd to keep the Longhorns within a run.
After shortstop Trey Faltine flew out to center field, and right fielder Dylan Campbell, who was moved to the lead-off spot for today’s game, grounded out to the shortstop, Hodo fisted a pitch into shallow center field to set the stage for Melendez. With an 0-2 count, Walker hung a curveball over the middle of the plate that Melendez powered over the left centerfield wall for his 14th homerun of the season. The big fly, which put Texas in front 2-1, ended a stretch of 33 at-bats for Melendez without a homerun.
TCU answered back in the top of the fourth inning. Bishop led off the inning with a single to left field. Horned Frog second baseman Gray Rodgers grounded out to Melendez at first, which moved Bishop to second base. A walk to Sacco put runners at first and second for Byrne, who hit a fly ball to centerfield that allowed Bishop to move up to third base on the tag up. Lucas Gordon then spiked a pitch into the ground that bounced off Ardoin’s shin guard and rolled to the backstop, scored Bishop from third base, and tied the game at 2-2. Another unassisted putout by Melendez at first base ended the inning for TCU.
The game remained tied at 2-2 until the bottom of the 6th inning. After Melendez lined out to the shortstop to start the inning, right fielder Murphy Stehly stepped in and ripped a double into left field to extend his hitting streak to 18 games. Walker then gave up a hard hit single to Ardoin that moved Stehly to third. TCU coach Kirk Saarloos had seen enough from Walker, and made the call to the bullpen. Right handed reliever Luke Savage came into the game to face designated hitter Austin Todd with runners at the corners. Todd ripped a single into center field to score Stehly and put the Longhorns up 3-2. With runners at first and second, third baseman Skylar Messinger hit a ground ball to his counter part at third base who stepped on the bag for the second out and then threw across the diamond to get Messinger at first to end the inning. It was the second, inning-ending, unassisted double play for Taylor at third base. He ended the fourth inning in similar fashion.
Right hander Travis Sthele, who came into the game with two outs and runners at second and third in the top of the sixth inning to end the scoring threat for TCU, retired the three Horned Frogs he faced in the top of the seventh inning.
The Longhorns put up another crooked number in the bottom of the seventh to gain a little separation in the score. After getting Daly to ground out to the second baseman, Savage walked Faltine on four pitches. Campbell then chopped a high bouncing ball to the first baseman who made a nice play to get Campbell out unassisted, but Faltine was able to move up to second base, and Savage was done for the day. With two outs and a 2-1 count, Hodo greeted the new TCU relief pitcher Garret Wright by ripping a double off the left field wall to score Faltine and extend the lead to 4-2.
Melendez then got another 0-2 pitch he could work with and drove this one into left field for a single that scored Hodo from second and put the Longhorns up 5-2. Stehly struck out to end the inning.
Right hander Justin Eckhardt came into the game in the top of the eighth inning for Texas. After getting leadoff batter Elijah Nunez to ground out to Faltine, Eckhardt left a pitch over the middle of the plate that Taylor drove over the right centerfield wall to make the score 5-3. Another ground out to Faltine was followed with back-to-back walks from Eckhardt. With tying run at first, Byrne hit a high fly ball just behind second base. Faltine and Daly converged on the ball and collided, but Daly was able to hold onto the ball to end the inning.
The Longhorns added a couple of insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth inning. Ardoin drew a walk to start the inning, and chase Wright from the game. With lefty River Ridings now on the bump for the Horned Frogs, Todd bounced a hard hit ball to the mound. Ridings fielded it cleanly, but rushed his throw to second base. The ball ended up in short right field, and Ardoin was safe at second. Freshman Ace Whitehead then came into the game to pinch run for Todd at first. Messinger stepped in and ripped a ground ball just under the glove of Sacco at shortstop scoring Ardoin from second and moving the speedy Whitehead all the way to third. Whitehead tacked on the 7th and final run for Texas when he tagged up on a Faltine fly ball into right field. Campbell struck out to end the inning.
After giving up a lead off double down the right field line to right fielder Luke Boyers, Coy Cobb closed out the game for the Longhorns by retiring the next three batters he faced.
Travis Sthele got the win on the mound for the Longhorns, and starter Brett Walker took the loss for TCU.
The Longhorns return to action Tuesday night against the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks at RBFCU Disch-Falk field. The first pitch is scheduled for 6:30 central time and can be seen on The Longhorn Network.