Stevens, Wenzel lift Longhorns to shutout victory over South Carolina

Vicente Montalvo

Two solo home runs in the fifth inning were the deciding factor for the No. 19 Longhorns in a 3-0 victory over the No. 12 South Carolina Gamecocks Saturday afternoon. 

In a game that relied heavily on stellar defense and good pitching at UFCU Disch-Falk Field, redshirt freshman catcher Peyton Powell and freshman infielder Mitchell Daly made their presence known in the fifth inning, giving the Longhorns exactly what they needed with what ultimately became the game-winning runs.

Redshirt junior pitcher Tristan Stevens got the start for the Longhorns and had his best performance so far this season. 

Previously, the former reliever turned starter in 2021 failed to complete a sixth inning. But on Saturday, Stevens managed to get over the hump, going six full innings, giving up only five hits and pitching a shutout.

“I thought Tristan (Stevens) was really good in some stressful times,” Pierce said. “(Stevens) is very comfortable with who he is and how he pitches.”

The combination of Stevens and redshirt senior pitcher Palmer Wenzel, who pitched the final three innings, stranded a staggering eight Gamecock runners. 

In the third inning, the Longhorns got out of a jam in when the Gamecocks managed to load the bases with only one out. A groundout double play ended the inning as Texas held on, leaving the contest scoreless.

In the fifth inning, the Gamecocks had their second big opportunity of the evening, managing to get runners on first and third base. But Stevens’ composure was on display, as he stayed focused and struck out the next two batters.

“Pitching and defense is always something our philosophy will be,” said Stevens. “We want to win in multiple ways. Who knows, tomorrow, maybe our offense will lead the way to a win.”

Powell started the fifth inning with a home run to left field putting the first run on the board after Texas failed to capitalize on a bases-loaded situation in the previous inning. Daly followed Powell’s home run with one of his own, the first of his career, giving the Longhorns a 2-0 lead. 

Texas’ pitching was on point all game. But outside of the fifth inning, the Longhorn bats will look to find some consistency at the plate, as the South Carolina pitchers gave up only four hits on the day.

“They were a little frustrated at home plate today,” Pierce said. “You have to make an in-game adjustment, and we were a little slow to do that.”

Texas did draw five walks and also drew some praise from Pierce. 

“[I’m) extremely proud to see us get better every day,” Pierce said. “For us to really calm our nerves says that they’re paying attention to the mental side of the game and trying to slow it down.”

The Longhorns have an opportunity to sweep the Gamecocks Sunday, but Pierce doesn’t want his team to look too far ahead.

“Let’s not look at the big picture, let’s not worry about winning a series or sweeping at this point,” Pierce said. “Let’s just see if we can get a little bit better today in all phases.”