Texas baseball relies on offense to secure 13-3 blowout against Houston Baptist

Emma Hutchinson, Sports Reporter

After three hours and 22 minutes of Texas baseball, the Longhorns finally came out with a 13-3 run-rule victory against Houston Baptist.

In the wake of a royal flush brought upon Texas by Oklahoma State last weekend, the Longhorns are now unranked for the first time this season and were eager to make a midweek recovery against Houston Baptist, a name they haven’t seen on the scoreboard since 2012.

Jumping to a 4-0 lead after the first inning off a double from redshirt junior Ivan Melendez and a homer to left field from redshirt senior Murphy Stehly, Texas was off to a promising start.

Starting pitcher and redshirt sophomore Zane Morehouse set the defensive line up for success, having a perfect game in two innings of work.

“Zane was good,” head coach David Pierce said. “I thought he threw the ball well, but not as well as I wanted him to.”

Despite Morehouse’s solid performance against the Huskies, Pierce switched him for freshman Joshua Stewart, who allowed two hits and accrued a staggering 27.00 ERA. With seven different pitchers taking the field, Pierce said it was a matter of giving multiple pitchers an opportunity to perform and work on fixing their command. Pierce also put redshirt senior Tristan Stevens, who is typically the Saturday starter, on the mound. Stevens struck out a batter with bases loaded to avoid additional runs against the Longhorns.

“We got to do better on the mound, we got to get our fastball command going,” Pierce said. “All the guys that pitched tonight needed to pitch.”

Pierce brought some fresh faces to the plate in the starting lineup, utilizing sophomore Kimble Schuessler and freshman Ace Whitehead. Schuessler, with an impressive .412 batting average, had one RBI and a run scored, while Whitehead went 3-5 with a double.

After tonight’s performance from Kimble, Pierce said he’s been taking some pressure off of redshirt sophomore Silas Ardoin behind the plate.

“Offensively, he’s been good, but his improvements behind home plate give us hope,” Pierce said. “I didn’t know if he was good enough going into the season to play that role, but he’s been very productive and getting more comfortable.”

Through the prolonged second and third innings, with loaded bases left stranded and no scores for the Longhorns, Melendez and Stehly came back out to pick up the pace in the bottom of the fourth. Melendez fired a single to left field and Stehly singled up the middle, lining up just in time for catcher Silas Ardoin to reach on fielder’s choice and bring Melendez home to advance the score to 5-3 in favor of Texas.

In the bottom of the fifth, Texas ran up the score on a soft Houston Baptist defense to increase the score to 13-3. Melendez even secured his first intentional walk in the inning, terrifying the opposition with his home run potential. From there it was smooth sailing for the Longhorns, as the lead grew by seven in the inning. Redshirt freshman Lebarron Johnson Jr. rang up two HBU batters in the top of the seventh, ending the prolonged seven-inning matchup.

Texas will return to Big-12 Conference play Friday and travel to Morgantown, West Virginia, to take on the West Virginia Mountaineers.