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Texas responds to getting swept by Oklahoma State with a run-ruled win over Houston Baptist

Danny Davis
Austin American-Statesman

The Texas Longhorns got back to work Tuesday night.

Two days after getting swept by Oklahoma State this past weekend, Texas returned to its winning ways, jumping out to an early lead and pulling away from Houston Baptist 13-3 at UFCU Disch-Falk Field. It was a run-rule victory that still lasted three hours and 22 minutes.

"Good bounce-back," UT coach David Pierce said.

Texas (32-16) used seven pitchers against the Southland Conference co-leaders. Pierce said he had planned on using a bullpen approach against the Huskies. Tristan Stevens, the veteran right-hander who has been the Saturday starter for the past two years, wasn't part of that plan.

But in the top of the third inning, Stevens jogged from the dugout to the bullpen. He last made a relief appearance in 2020.

Texas pitcher Tristan Stevens, who has been UT's Saturday starter the past two years, throws one of his five pitches that he logged in a relief appearance against Houston Baptist. He came in with two outs and the bases loaded in the third inning and got the strikeout to end the inning. Texas won 13-3.

But Stevens had told Pierce and pitching coach Sean Allen that he was willing to work out of the bullpen if needed. So with two outs and the bases loaded in the third, Pierce called for him. Stevens faced one batter, striking out Huskies outfielder Jake Miller to preserve UT's 4-2 lead.

"We've got to do whatever we can to win the game with our best guys available, and he was our best guy available at the time and I wanted to see it happen," Pierce said. "He did what he does."

Stevens threw only five pitches, but Texas may still bump his upcoming start back a day. If that happens, regular Sunday starter Lucas Gordon will start Saturday's game at West Virginia.

Ahead of this weekend's trip to Morgantown, Pierce hinted that Texas may have "TBA" designations for Saturday's and Sunday's starters.

More:Sidelined in 2021, Texas pitcher Andre Duplantier II is working his way back on the mound

As for the rest of the pitchers who threw on Tuesday, the Longhorns saw mixed results.

Zane Morehouse started and retired the six batters he faced. Marcus Olivarez needed only eight pitches to get through the fifth inning. Lebarron Johnson registered two strikeouts and retired the Huskies in order during the seventh.

On the other hand, Joshua Stewart hit a batter and gave up two hits, two walks and two runs in the third inning before he was replaced by Stevens. In the fourth frame, Andre Duplantier II was tagged for one hit, two walks and one run. Travis Sthele issued two walks, gave up a hit and threw only seven strikes during a 21-pitch sixth inning, though a double play that he started prevented Houston Baptist (18-28) from scoring.

"All the guys that pitched tonight needed to pitch," Pierce said. "We have others, so we'll have (an) extra period tomorrow. We've got to get some comfort with our command."

Bohls:Texas' bullpen implodes once again, costing the Longhorns dearly in sweep to OSU

After Texas opened its half of the first inning with back-to-back bunt singles, the Longhorns' two best hitters were allowed to swing away on the next two pitches thrown by Houston Baptist starter Daxton Tinker. On the first pitch he saw, Ivan Melendez doubled in two runs. Murphy Stehly then hit a two-run home run.

Texas never trailed. Houston Baptist pulled to within 4-3 in the fourth inning, but UT scored nine more runs in the fourth and fifth.

Texas tinkered with its starting lineup. Freshman Ace Whitehead made his first career start. With Whitehead in left field, Dylan Campbell shifted to right. The versatile Stehly moved from right field to second base and made his first start in the infield since March 13. Kimble Schuessler started at catcher in place of Silas Ardoin, who still got offensive reps as the designated hitter.

Key play: After throwing two balls to Melendez with two outs in the fifth, Houston Baptist conceded first base to the Texas slugger. It was the first intentional walk of Melendez's sensational season.  

In addition to his free pass, Melendez also reached on a double during UT's seven-run fifth. For the game, he was 3-for-3 with two doubles.

Notable number: 17. A Houston native, Pierce has won 17 games with the Longhorns against teams from his hometown. Pierce is now 10-2 against Rice, 3-1 against Houston, 3-0 against Texas Southern and 1-0 against Houston Baptist.

Up next: Texas will travel to West Virginia for a three-game series that gets underway Friday. With a 9-9 record in Big 12 play, Texas sits in sixth place in the conference standings. The fourth-place Mountaineers have won nine of their 15 Big 12 games.