For the first time in 51 years and only the second time in program history, the No. 10 Texas Longhorns traveled to the Valley to face the UTRGV Vaqueros and secured a victory in front of a record crowd at UTRGV Baseball Stadium with a 7-2 win on Tuesday.
Right-hander Zane Morehouse was excellent in his first start at Texas, allowing one run on two hits with six strikeouts and a walk. In one of the best midweek performances of the season for the Longhorns, Morehouse took a no-hitter into the sixth innings before giving up two hits and departing.
First baseman Ivan Melendez had two hits and three RBI for Texas to lead the way offensively. It wasn’t the type of offensive outburst the characterized the previous four games in the current winning streak, as the Longhorns only managed nine hits, failed to hit a home run, and left 11 runners on base, but it was enough to win.
Texas went ahead in the second inning when catcher Kimble Schuessler sent a chopper up the middle to bring home third baseman Skyler Messinger, who had doubled to right field.
But it wasn’t until the fourth that the Longhorns broke through, driving Vaqueros left-handed starter Randy Garza from the game after loading the bases following two walks and a hit by pitch. UTRGV turned to Ricky Gerik Jr., the team leader in saves and overall appearances. Center fielder Douglas Hodo III drew a full-count walk to drive in a run, Texas scored an unearned run on an error by the shortstop, and first baseman Ivan Melendez singled through the left side to drive in two runs as the Horns took a 5-0 lead.
On the mound, Morehouse made a convincing case to either remain the Tuesday starter or to receive high-leverage innings as he took a no-hitter into the sixth inning. With one out, Chris Mondesi hit a ball down the left-field line that dropped in for a hit, but Mondesi ran into an out on a good throw from Longhorns left fielder Dylan Campbell. After giving up another hit, Morehouse left the game.
Facing Texas A&M transfer Cameron Blake at the top of the order for UTRGV, left-hander Luke Harrison walked Blake on four pitches to put runners on first and second. The Vaqueros scored their first run of the game on a hump-back single to right-center, but Campbell made another good throw to get Blake at third. So the final line for Morehouse did include a run allowed, but hardly dented his superb performance.
In the eighth inning, Texas added some insurance runs. Second baseman Mitchell Daly led off with a single, shortstop Trey Faltine drew a full-count walk, Hodo used a sacrifice bunt to move the runners to second and third, and Daly scored when the UTRGV second baseman couldn’t catch a routine fly ball. Then Melendez drove in another run with a single on a line drive to left field.
To finish the game, right-hander Lebarron Johnson Jr. and right-hander Travis Sthele cruised through an inning apiece. Sthele wasn’t as effective in the ninth, allowing a leadoff walk, but was able to get two walks to allow right-hander Aaron Nixon to come on for the final out less than 10 miles from McAllen High School, where he starred on the diamond and the gridiron. A wild pitch allowed the second run for UTRGV to score, but Nixon only needed three pitches to induce a groundout to end the game.
Texas returns to UFCU Disch-Falk Field for a huge weekend series against No. 8 Oklahoma State starting on Friday.