Texas downs Nevada 4-3 for 9th straight victory

Vicente Montalvo

With a one-run lead in the top of the ninth inning, head coach David Pierce turned to the bullpen, something he had done all night. Freshman pitcher Aaron Nixon took the mound and managed to get two routine flyouts before hitting a Nevada batter, bringing the potential game-winning run to the plate.

But instead of folding under pressure, Nixon kept his composure. The batter grounded out to the pitcher, securing the Longhorns’ ninth straight victory.

“It was one of those games where nothing had much rhythm to it, other than we figured out how to win the game,” Pierce said. “We just continued to play. It wasn’t pretty.”

Instead of relying on one pitcher throughout the evening, Pierce frequently turned to the bullpen, allowing a total of five different Texas pitchers to showcase their abilities.

Although they struggled to find rhythm at the plate, the newly ranked No. 3 Longhorns defeated Nevada 4-3 thanks to a solid defensive performance and steady bullpen.

Redshirt freshman pitcher Justin Eckhardt got his second consecutive Tuesday-night start for the Longhorns. Eckhardt did not disappoint, going 3.1 innings with one earned run and two hits. But once Eckhardt was relieved in the fourth inning, the game quickly turned into a bullpen contest.

The most impressive relief performance came from freshman pitcher Tanner Witt, who struck out five Wolf Pack batters while only giving up one run on two hits in 2.2 innings.

“I think more than anything, Tanner (Witt) is a great athlete,” Pierce said. “We don’t want him to become a robotic pitcher — we want him to be athletic.”

It was a stark contrast from the Longhorns’ performance at the plate.

After picking up the Big 12 Baseball Player of the Week Award and being named the National Hitter of the Week by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, Ivan Melendez’s six-game home run streak came to an end, even though he still managed two hits and two RBIs.

Texas took a 3-0 lead in the third inning but only scored one run the remainder of the night. The Longhorns were held to six hits: their lowest since last week.

“I just felt that we had zero flow in our offense,” said Pierce. “I thought they did a nice job of recovering from, in the (batters) minds, some poor at-bats.”

However, the defense responded when it was needed most.

After the Wolf Pack put up a run in the eighth frame to cut the lead to 4-3, Nixon sealed the deal with a pair of flyouts and a groundout.

With another matchup against Nevada tomorrow night at 6:30, Pierce wants his team to continue to stay focused and not give into the media attention they have recently received.

“Now we’ve gotten a lot of attention, not only from the baseball world, but even our city has talked about us for the last 24 hours,” said Pierce. “As a team, it’s about us going out and playing our game.”