Melendez blasts 2 home runs in No. 7 Texas baseball’s win versus SFA

Texas+baseball+first+basemen+Ivan+Melendez+uses+his+glove+to+help+secure+the+out+at+first+base.+Texas+played+Rice+at+UFCU+Disch-Falk+Field+on+Feb+18%2C+2022.

Andrew Zamora/The Daily Texan

Texas baseball first basemen Ivan Melendez uses his glove to help secure the out at first base. Texas played Rice at UFCU Disch-Falk Field on Feb 18, 2022.

Jordan Mitchell, Sports Reporter

The 6,126 fans at UFCU Disch-Falk Field rose from their seats to sing Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” twice during Texas’ 13-2 steamroll of SFA.

Redshirt junior infielder Ivan Melendez launched two home runs on the night, including the fourth “monster shot” of his career over the ballpark’s 28-foot batter’s eye in center field.

The 455-foot bomb in the first inning makes Melendez the only player to blast four over the green monster in Texas baseball’s 47-year history at the Disch, etching the first baseman’s name into history books as one of the most accomplished Longhorn sluggers.

Prior to last season, Texas baseball extended the batter’s eye by eight feet to compensate for Texas softball’s white facility, which caused issues for batters when seeing the pitch.

With the eight-foot extension, Texas head coach David Pierce intended for the balls that bounced off the green monster into the field to be recorded as home runs, as he had never seen anyone hit over it before Melendez.

“I’ve only seen one guy really do it,” Pierce said. “We added (the) eight-foot extension because of the girls’ facility. And when we did that, Ivan hit two of them over the extension.”

Melendez’s massive offensive showing is in the wake of a two-week batting slump, where he only had two multiple-hit games despite being top five in the country for season total home runs.

While Melendez struggled at the plate before Sunday’s two-hit game, he has excelled in the past month at first base. In Saturday’s loss against TCU, Melendez contributed to two double plays and dove for a putout past first base in no-man’s-land.

This is Melendez’s first season playing first base for Texas. He replaced Zach Zubia, an MLB draftee who played first baseman for the Longhorns in the 2021 season.

“He’s just worked at it, and his skill set is very good,” Pierce said. “It’s just (him) getting comfortable with the position and knowing what to do with the ball without having hesitation.”

Melendez’s RBI-double kindled a six-run, 31-minute offensive showing by the Longhorns in the third inning, allowing Pierce to try out bench players such as freshman left fielder Ace “Boogie” Whitehead and sophomore Vanderbilt transfer Jack O’Dowd. The two newcomers combined for six hits, a double and a home run on the night.

“(We gave) our starters some rest and got our bench some experience. They want to be a part of not only practice but part of the team,” Pierce said. “I think Jack (O’Dowd) and Boogie (Whitehead) both took great advantage of that.”

Texas will travel up to Manhattan, Kansas, on Thursday for an early weekend series against 15–16 Kansas State.