Following an important series victory in Morgantown against the West Virginia Mountaineers, the No. 22 Texas Longhorns are back in the top 25 and back at home at UFCU Disch-Falk Field for a Tuesday contest against the Texas Southern Tigers, the first of five home games to end the regular season.
Thanks to strong performances on the mound from left-handers Pete Hansen and Lucas Gordon during Saturday’s doubleheader, Texas only needed one out from the bullpen, from typical Saturday starter Tristan Stevens, to win the series against West Virginia. The Longhorns were unable to complete the sweep thanks to an 8-6 loss on Sunday, but taking the first two games was an important development for a team on the fringes of hosting a regional in the NCAA Tournament. It was also the first series victory for Texas in Morgantown.
First baseman Ivan Melendez was a major factor in Texas winning three of four games last week, earning Big 12 Player of the Week honors for the first time this season after batting .571 with three home runs and nine RBIs while extending his hitting streak to 16 games. During the Saturday doubleheader, Melendez hit three home runs to take over the national lead with 25 home runs, three away from tying the school record held by Kyle Russell. Now hitting .423 on the season, Melendez is also not far off from the .427 batting average by Brian Cisarik in 1987 that stands as the school record.
The Saturday power surge, which also included home runs from Murphy Stehly, Douglas Hodo III, Trey Faltine, and Austin Todd, gave the Longhorns 94 home runs on the season, extending the school record. Nationally, Texas ranks third in home runs and leads the Big 12.
Left-hander Luke Harrison (0-0, 3.08) is set to receive his first college start against Texas Southern, which enters the game with an 8-12 road record. The Tigers boast a .317 team batting average and 195 steals thanks to five players with 17 or more steals, led by Johnathon Thomas with 52. So Texas Southern will challenge Texas catcher Silas Ardoin when they get on base to try to get runners into scoring position. Head coach Michael Robertson has not announced a starter for the Tigers.
First pitch is at 6:30 p.m. Central on Longhorn Network.