Texas 14, A&M-Corpus Christi 4: In Mitchell Daly's 22nd start, Longhorns earn win No. 21
After a week away from UFCU Disch-Falk Field, fourth-ranked Texas opened the longest homestand of its season with a victory.
Ivan Melendez and Cam Williams' long home runs lifted the Longhorns to a 14-4 win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Tuesday night. It was Texas' first home game since March 28, but there'll be nine more at Disch-Falk through the end of next week.
"Tough (game) early, we just continued to play and separated ourselves late," Texas coach David Pierce said. "Just a good Tuesday night win for sure."
Melendez's two-run home run in the second inning traveled an estimated 471 feet. The first of his three extra-base hits put Texas up 2-1. The Longhorns (21-8) never trailed again, but the Islanders (6-21) kept the game close until Texas scored eight runs over the seventh and eighth innings.
Texas drew 11 walks. One of UT's 12 hits belonged to Williams, whose team-leading eighth homer sailed over one of the outfield scoreboards.
Second baseman Mitchell Daly also got in on the action with two two-run singles. After going 2-for-5, Daly still leads Texas with his .400 batting average.
Three years ago, second baseman Kody Clemens was an All-American who led the team in batting average, home runs and RBIs. But second base has largely been a revolving door in recent years.
Brooks Marlow, whose 217 starts from 2012-15 rank third in school history, was the last player to be considered the primary second baseman for the Longhorns in back-to-back seasons. In each of the past two seasons, Texas placed a promising freshman at second; Lance Ford started 40 games in 2019 but lost his job the following season, and after starting in nine of the first 17 games last season, Brenden Dixon transferred out.
Now it's Daly's turn.
Three of Daly's doubles this season have kept Texas out of jeopardy as they have either tied a game or given the Longhorns a lead. One of his 13 runs was the walk-off score in an extra-innings win over Oklahoma on March 26.
Defensively, Daly has committed four errors. But he's also been involved in 12 double plays.
"I think he's come a long way," redshirt freshman Trey Faltine said earlier this season. "When he first got here, I think he was kind of passive and stuff. But late in the fall and obviously playing now, he's gotten that confidence that he needed and he's doing everything that y'all see every day."
When Texas opened its season on Feb. 20, Murphy Stehly was the team's second baseman. Freshman Dylan Campbell was the second player started by the Longhorns at that position.
But in UT's eighth game, Daly got his first start. He went 3-for-5 in a 12-1 win over A&M-Corpus Christi on March 2. He has made 21 straight starts since then.
With Faltine entrenched at shortstop, Daly's future may remain at second. Daly was once rated as the best shortstop in the state of Alabama. He told reporters last month, though, that he had played second base in middle school and had some familiarity with that spot in the infield.
"I feel comfortable on both sides of the middle infield," Daly said. "It hasn't really been too difficult. (Volunteer assistant coach Troy Tulowitzki has) done a great job and some of the older guys like Murph have done a great job of answering any questions that I've had."
So, how did a player raised in the heart of SEC country end up at Texas? Daly said he once visited Austin with a travel team, and he felt an instant connection after visiting the UT campus with his dad. He committed to the Longhorns in December 2018.
"I really just felt like it was a natural fit," Daly said. "I just credit God for that, just putting me where I think I belong."
Around the bases: Late in Tuesday's game, a possum got loose on the warning track. A handful of UT pitchers eventually chased it off the field. ... After Texas starter Justin Eckhardt lasted just 2 2/3 innings, reliever Palmer Wenzel was credited with the victory. ... Rouse graduate Hayden Thomas issued just a walk over the inning of relief that he pitched for the Islanders. ... Texas will host Stephen F. Austin (12-13) on Wednesday night.