Baseball blanks South Carolina, 3-0, to clinch series

14 Mar By
College World Series
Texas starter Tristan Stevens evened his record at 1-1 with six shutout innings in the Longhorns' 3-0 win over South Carolina (photo by Jose Mendez / Horns Illustrated).

AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas baseball team defeated No. 12 South Carolina for the second consecutive day Saturday, taking the second game of the series, 3-0, at UFCU Disch-Falk Field.

The victory gave Texas (10-5) back-to-back victories over a nationally ranked opponent after the Longhorns opened the season with three consecutive losses against Mississippi State, Arkansas and Ole Miss. South Carolina dropped to 10-2.

Pitching and defense were again the keys in the victory, as Texas starter Tristan Stevens fired six shutout innings, striking out five and allowing five hits and one walk, as he picked up his first win of the year to even his record at 1-1.

"I'd say the biggest thing was using my sinker," Stevens said. "My sinker command was a lot better than my past couple outings had been. Being able to throw that more, especially the second and third time through the order, helped open up my secondary stuff and keep those hitters off balance."

Stevens faced perhaps his biggest challenge in the top of the fifth inning, with the game still scoreless. The Gamecocks placed runners on the corners with two outs on an error by Texas third baseman Cam Williams and a single. Designated hitter Wes Clarke entered the series leading the nation in home runs with eight, but was not able to put South Carolina on the board, striking out on a slider.

"I stepped off the mound, and I realized that this was something I'm used to," Stevens of facing Clarke. "I had to stop and tell myself, 'I've been in this situation before. I know how to get out of it.' I regrouped. I knew that was their best hitter, but I knew that if I challenged him with my best stuff then he'd have to hit it. That slider was definitely one of my best ones."

Texas took the lead in the bottom of the inning on a solo homer from designated hitter Peyton Powell and two batters later, second baseman Mitchell Daly swatted a home run to deep left field.

The 2-0 lead was enough for Texas to seal the win, though center fielder Mike Antico scored on a balk in the eighth inning for extra measure. Antico scored at least one run for the third straight game, and nearly had one more in the sixth, though he was thrown out on a fielder's choice for the second out of the inning.

Reliever Palmer Wenzel earned his first save as a Longhorn, as the UTSA transfer came out of the bullpen to toss three scoreless innings.

Stevens and Wenzel induced the Gamecocks to hit 15 ground balls. Two of those went for double plays, including one for the first two outs of the sixth.

The third game of the series will be at 11:30 a.m. Sunday. Kolby Kubichek (2-1, 1.93 earned run average) will start for Texas in the game that can be seen on Longhorn Network.

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