Tristan Stevens shuts door on Louisiana Tech, Texas advances to regional final

Redshirt+senior+Tristian+Stevens+throws+a+pitch+during+the+Alumni+game+on+February+5.

Jonathan Sherchand/The Daily Texan

Redshirt senior Tristian Stevens throws a pitch during the Alumni game on February 5.

Jordan Mitchell, Sports Reporter

Tristan Stevens wants the ball in his hands during the biggest moments. 

In Texas baseball’s 5-2 regional win against a red-hot Louisiana Tech team, the redshirt senior pitcher entered in the sixth inning to replace sophomore Lucas Gordon, who dished out 93 pitches for nine hits in his nearly flawless one-run performance.

With the game tied at one run each, Stevens gutted out two scoreless innings on the mound, giving Texas’ offense a chance to win the game late.

Despite beginning the season as Texas’ Saturday starter, Stevens has emerged as a trusted bullpen arm, often coming into games as a reliever or closer. Since his first relief appearance against Houston Baptist on May 3, the righty has appeared in 10 games, picking up three saves and a win.

“I just want to win for this program. I just wanna win for this team,” Stevens said. “You know, whatever it takes to do it, I’m gonna do it. I really don’t care about my role.”

With Stevens keeping the Bulldogs at bay Saturday, the Longhorns experienced an offensive surge playing small ball in the seventh.

With one out and the game still tied 1-1, redshirt sophomore outfielder Douglas Hodo III hit a well-placed single through the left side of the field, kindling an offensive surge for the rest of the inning.

Following Hodo’s at bat, the redshirt junior duo of outfielder Eric Kennedy and first baseman Ivan Melendez both hit their own singles, scoring one and bringing nearly all 8,502 fans in attendance — the largest crowd in UFCU Disch-Falk Field history for a collegiate game — onto their feet.

With runners on the corners, redshirt senior infielder Murphy Stehly rocketed a pitch out to left-center field for an RBI single, putting the Longhorns ahead of the Bulldogs by two runs.

“We’re just trying to get on base, (and) we’re trying to pass the bat,” Melendez said. “Not always do we have to drive it out of the ballpark, we get on base and field hits.”

To wrap up the inning, redshirt senior infielder Skyler Messinger doubled down the third baseline, bringing Stehly home for Texas’ fourth run of the ball game.

“We talk a lot about scoring in multiple ways and having that ability without forcing the power,” head coach David Pierce said. “We did a good job of fighting with two strikes, and (that’s) just about a mentality.”

During Gordon’s 5.1 innings he pitched to the Bulldogs, Hodo played hero ball in the outfield, assisting on an out at third base from deep center field and subsequently catching a blasted ball against the wall.

“Douglas Hodo was outstanding in center field today,” Pierce said. “He had the big plays and then showed some real guts on the bunt.”

To cap off the game, Stevens retired the Bulldog batters in order in the ninth, advancing Texas to the Austin Regional final with a 2–0 record. The Longhorns will face either Air Force or Louisiana Tech again Sunday night, and one more win would secure a spot in the Super Regionals. After the win, Pierce did not immediately name a starting pitcher for Sunday’s game. 

“When the pressure is high, and everyone’s on their feet and no one knows what’s going to happen, that’s when the game is the best for me,” Stevens said. “I just love those moments.”