Texas baseball beats Cal State Fullerton off junior Stehly’s bat

Nathan Han

Heading into this weekend’s series against Cal State Fullerton, Texas head coach David Pierce decided to give junior infielder Murphy Stehly his shot at second base.

“Just trying to find out who’s going to take that job at second base is the biggest concern right now,” Pierce said. “(Freshman Brenden) Dixon and (sophomore Lance) Ford are certainly not out of the mix, but it’s Stehly’s turn to at least have an opportunity to see what he can do.”

In the second inning of Saturday’s 4-3 win against the Titans, Stehly had the game’s biggest hit of the day, a two-run double that just stayed fair down the third-base line. 

The win advanced Texas to 12–3 on the season and gave the Longhorns the guaranteed series win before they play Cal State Fullerton again tomorrow with a series sweep on the line.

“After losing those two games last Sunday and Tuesday, we could’ve easily come out Friday and Saturday and been flat,” senior outfielder Austin Todd said. “We could’ve laid an egg but we didn’t.”

Stehly, who transferred to Texas this season from Orange Coast College, did it all at the plate in his four at-bats, 2-for-2 with the big two-RBI double, laying down a sacrifice bunt, getting hit by a pitch and stealing a base after a single.

“(Stehly) so unassuming that he’s so good,” Pierce said. “He sits at the bottom (of the order) right now, so everybody expects him to play good defense. Next thing you know, it’s another hit and another big double.”

His one error of the game was an errant throw to first base that allowed two unearned runs in the fourth. Other than those two runs, Texas’ four pitchers were near-perfect today.

Starting pitcher sophomore Ty Madden battled through four innings, where he allowed base-runners in each but only gave up one unearned run.

“Ty struggled a little bit with his health after four innings,” Pierce said. “When he came out, he went straight to the trash can and threw up … so you could tell a little bit that it was flat and he wasn’t as sharp. But that’s what our guys do: go out there and grind it out.”

After Madden exited in a 3-3 game, a string of Texas’ top-three bullpen arms — freshman Pete Hansen, redshirt junior Tristan Stevens and freshman Andre Duplantier II — came out in order. 

Hansen threw 3 2/3 innings and stretched the run without an earned run to 17. 

Perhaps even more impressively, in today’s outing, Hansen’s lone walk was only the second walk he’s issued in all of his 17 innings, leading to a 18-2 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

“He’s so versatile for us right now,” Pierce said. “The thing that I love about Pete is he’s got so much innocence about it right now as well. It’s pretty much, ‘Coach, whatever you need me to do.’”

After Stevens came in for a one-batter in his role of the “adrenaline junkie,” freshman pitcher Andre Duplantier came in to finish off the game in the ninth inning and had two strikeouts in his third career save. 

Sophomore pitcher Coy Cobb will take the mound for the Longhorns tomorrow.