Baseball winning streak reaches 13 after sweep of Abilene Christian

18 Apr By
Smarter Way To Protect Family
Saturday's win improved pitcher Tristan Stevens' record to 6-1; the Longhorns crushed Abilene Christian in a three-game series by a combined score of 32-2 (photo courtesy of Jose Mendez / Horns Illustrated).

AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas baseball team proved it could win in a variety of ways this weekend against Abilene Christian, as the Longhorns swept the Wildcats to extend their win streak to 13 games.

Texas hit the 30-win mark with Sunday's 11-1 victory, and is now at 30-8 on the season, with a 13-game winning streak.

"I thought we played another complete game," Texas head coach David Pierce said. "I really appreciate (the UT players') effort and how they're approaching every single day."

Center fielder Mike Antico, who went 5-for-11 during the series, noted the attitude of the team, whether the opponent is a mid-major such as ACU or a nationally ranked conference opponent.

"We're definitely confident but I wouldn't say we overlooked anybody," Antico said. "Even Texas State on Tuesday, we want to go there (and) dominate them. The team's confident, but I wouldn't say we're cocky. We know that we got to show up and play. Even Abilene Christian. You don't show up and play, they'll beat you."

Texas showed up for all three games of the weekend non-conference series and ACU did not have an answer; over the course of the three-game series, the Longhorns outscored the Wildcats, 32-2.

Texas scored at least one run in every inning of the first game, and won, 18-0, the most runs the Horns had scored since the 2010 season and their Horns' 20th home win of the season.

Texas starter Ty Madden had little trouble mowing down the Wildcat bats for the first five innings before the bullpen took over, striking out eight, and allowing three hits and three walks to improve to 5-1 this season. Four relievers combined for four more scoreless innings to close out the inning, as Coy Cobb, Jared Southard, Caden Noah and Drew Shifflet each fired one inning; the quartet combined for seven strikeouts.

At the plate, the Longhorns were just as dominant, as every starter in the lineup scored at least one run before the third inning concluded.

The scoring got going early for Texas in the first, with Antico drawing a leadoff walk and stealing second before moving over to third on a throwing error. He plated the first of Texas' five first-inning runs, crossing the plate on a hard-hit double into left-center field gap. The double was one of six extra base hits on the evening for the Horns, and right fielder Douglas Hodo III swatted the contest's only home run with a solo shot to left field in the fourth to put Texas up 12-0.

Texas won the second game of the series Saturday, 3-1. ACU struck first, scoring a run in the opening frame on an RBI single off the bat of second baseman Brett Hammitt that scored center fielder Grayson Tatrow from second.

It took Texas six innings to counter, but the Longhorns knotted the score at 1-1 in the sixth. First baseman Zach Zubia singled in the second at-bat of the frame and advanced on a single by designated hitter Ivan Melendez. ACU starter Genner Cervantes gave up consecutive walks, the first loading the bases, and the second, to Hodo, bringing Zubia across the plate. Cervantes was replaced with Max Huffling after the walk, and Huffling induced two quick outs to escape from the inning with the score tied.

But the contest did not remain tied for long. In the seventh, Zubia provided the go-ahead run for Texas, scoring shortstop Trey Faltine after working the count to 3-1. A double by third baseman Cam Williams to deep left field scored Eric Kennedy in the eighth before Tanner Witt tallied two strikeouts in a three-up, three-down ninth to close out the win.

Texas starter Tristan Stevens improved to 6-1 on the year, allowing one earned run and five hits and no walks, while striking out six over seven innings.

The series finale Sunday afternoon mirrored Friday's series opener, as Texas rolled to an 11-1 victory to close out a 10-game homestand.

The Longhorns put four runs on the board in the first. The scoring outburst occurred in the span of four batters, as Melendez launched a double to left center that scored Antico, and catcher DJ Petrinsky followed with a base hit to send Zubia home with UT's second run. A single by Hodo scored Melendez, and Petrinsky came across in the next at-bat on a fielder's choice.

The game-sealer came in the fifth, when Antico knocked a three-run home run past the right field wall to add to the Texas lead and make the score 10-1. Zubia's RBI single in the following frame put the game out of reach, as the contest was ended after seven innings due to the 10-run run rule.

Longhorns starter Kolby Kubichek showed room for improvement according to Pierce but picked up the win in a five-inning, five-hit performance in which he allowed one earned run and improved his record to 5-2.

As Texas heads into a crucial span of the schedule that features Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and TCU, Pierce said he has no worries about how his squad, ranked third in the nation by D1Baseball, will fair. He said that no matter who a team is playing, it is hard to put together a 13-game winning streak like the Longhorns have.

"I don't care if you're playing 'Our Lady of the Foul Line' — it doesn't matter," Pierce said. "To win 13 straight is tough to do. Anything can happen in our sport. The best team doesn't always win, if you've got a guy like (Genner) Cervantes (who started Saturday for ACU) yesterday. I thought he pitched a great game, we had some weather conditions, and we just found a way to win the game because we didn't panic.

"We didn't feel like we were playing a team inferior to us. We were in competition. That was nice to see. I'm glad we've had some tough games in this stretch."

Riley Zayas is a high school sophomore and freelance journalist from Round Rock, Texas. He began his journalism career as a Sports Illustrated Kids reporter and has since become a regular contributor to Horns Illustrated, covering Texas Longhorn sports. His work also includes Fellowship of Christian Athletes publications, College Baseball Nation and Sports Spectrum, a national christian sports website. He currently serves as the Managing Editor of True To The Cru, covering UMHB athletics. Twitter: @ZayasRiley