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Texas 3, BYU 1: Horns earn their first win as Mike Antico proves 'the ball does not lie'

Texas players celebrate last season after beating Cal State Fullerton in Austin. The Longhorns won their 2021 home opener Wednesday 3-1 over BYU.

When it mattered the most, Mike Antico hit a baseball that the umpires couldn't rule foul.

Antico's two-run single broke an eighth-inning tie in Texas' 3-1 win over BYU on Wednesday night at UFCU Disch-Falk Field. It was the first win of the season for the Longhorns (1-3), who avoided matching the second-worst start in program history.

"We got that first one; it's time to roll now," Antico said. "We needed that. We had a tough weekend."

No. 19 Texas, which was ranked ninth nationally heading into the season, opened with three losses to top-10 SEC teams at the College Baseball Showdown in Arlington.

On Wednesday, the Longhorns mustered only four hits. Two of them, though, came in the bottom of the eighth inning. Cam Williams led off with a double but was later called out trying to score on a passed ball. On that same play, Murphy Stehly moved to second base, and then he moved to third on a wild pitch that also placed Douglas Hodo III on second.

That brought up Antico, a graduate transfer from St. John's. Batting left-handed against left-handed reliever Boston Mabeus, Antico noticed a large hole on the right side of the infield. On a 1-1 pitch, he made contact and dribbled a single into right field.

"At that point, I'm just trying to roll right through that (gap)," Antico said. "That's exactly what I did. I didn't have to hit it too hard. I knew exactly what I had to do, and I executed it."

Antico's winning hit was not his most notable swing. In the third inning, he hammered a pitch that was ruled foul down the right field line. The Longhorns disagreed with that call, and Antico said BYU catcher Abraham Valdez had even expressed a belief that he had hit a home run. After a review, the umpires upheld the ruling.

A few pitches later, UT coach David Pierce was ejected from the game after exchanging words with third base umpire Jason Milsap. Antico eventually grounded out.

Had that baseball been ruled fair, Texas would have taken a 2-0 lead. Instead, Antico waited until the eighth inning to drive in the decisive run.

"The ball does not lie, as you guys can see," Antico said. "I've learned that my whole career. No matter what happens, the ball does not lie, and that was a perfect example right there."

Not all of the news coming out of the third inning was bad for Texas. To lead off the inning, Williams belted a ball that bounced off the batter's eye in center field. Texas recently raised the batter's eye to hide the renovations at the school's softball field. A new rule was also implemented, and balls no longer have to clear the batter's eye to be ruled a homer.

"It's just unfair to a hitter to hit the ball that far and not get rewarded for it," Pierce said. "The craziest thing happened tonight. It's the first time in a ballgame since I've been here that I've seen a ball hit that batter's eye.

"He actually hit the new section, so it would have cleared it. It would have been a shame if that was a double because he absolutely hammered that ball."

Texas held BYU to three hits. Reliever Cole Quintanilla was credited with the victory, and freshman Tanner Witt picked up his first career save.

In his first start of the season, Pete Hansen worked three innings. Hansen, who is expected to join UT's weekend rotation at some point this season, issued two walks and committed two errors. But while working with a pitch count of 50, Hansen did not allow a hit. 

Around the bases: With inclement weather in the forecast, Texas and BYU moved up the first pitch of Thursday's game to 1 p.m. ... UT first baseman Zach Zubia and catcher DJ Petrinsky were unavailable Wednesday. Neither player was in uniform. ... Sidelined by an oblique injury, Texas senior outfielder Austin Todd served as the first base coach after Pierce's ejection. ... BYU's Austin Deming broke up a no-hit bid with a sixth-inning double. Deming later homered.