Texas 9, Kansas State 2: Ivan Melendez, Mike Antico power Longhorns to a Big 12 sweep
The bats belonging to Ivan Melendez and Mike Antico remained hot on Sunday afternoon, and so did the Texas Longhorns.
Melendez and Antico combined for three homers as Texas rolled to a 9-2 win at home over Kansas State. With the victory, Texas completed a three-game sweep of the Wildcats. The win was UT's eighth in a row.
Ranked fourth in the D1Baseball poll, Texas improved to 10-2 in Big 12 play. Those two losses were recorded as UT was trying to complete sweeps of Baylor and Oklahoma earlier this season. The Longhorns recorded their first sweep of a conference opponent at Kansas last week.
After beating Kansas State on Saturday, Texas first baseman Zach Zubia said "we always preach win on Sundays. To win on Sunday is huge in the Big 12." A day later, the Longhorns practiced what Zubia preached.
Texas (25-8) struck first at UFCU Disch-Falk Field. Two pitches after Trey Faltine recorded UT's first hit on a one-out infield single in the third inning, Antico homered. Kansas State got a run back in the fourth frame, but Melendez went deep with a teammate aboard in the bottom of that inning. Melendez clubbed another two-run shot in the sixth.
"We can strike quickly with the power, with the speed," Texas coach David Pierce said. "At the same time, today was a little more methodical but the power came out."
It's unlikely that Kansas State's pitchers will miss seeing Antico and Melendez after this weekend. Both newcomers to the Texas lineup, Antico and Melendez introduced themselves with homers instead of handshakes.
Antico's third-inning homer was his seventh hit of the series. Over UT's 13-6 and 15-1 wins on Friday and Saturday, he went 6-for-9 with two doubles, a triple, another homer and six RBIs.
Melendez homered in each of this weekend's games. He had also gone deep in UT's three games before that. Melendez's streak of six straight games with a homer is believed to be a Texas record. The NCAA record is the eight-game streak that Georgia Tech's Andy Bruce recorded in 1991 and Duke's Ryan Jackson matched in 1994.
"I just go out there and try to hit the ball and help the team win," Melendez said when asked about chasing Bruce and Jackson's shared record. "I see it all over my social media and whatnot, but I try to just clear it. I don't want it to be a distraction."
With his first home run of the afternoon, Melendez became the first Longhorn to completely clear the batter's eye in center field since 2010. (Earlier this season, Melendez and Cam Williams both homered off a portion of the batter's eye that had been recently extended). His bomb to left field travelled an estimated 451 feet.
At the end of March, Melendez was hitting .263 with 12 RBIs and a homer. After going 2-for-3 on Sunday, Melendez now leads Texas in batting average (.375) and RBIs (30). His eight home runs are tied with Williams for the team lead.
"I'm definitely not seeing beach balls. Hitting is probably one of the hardest things to do in all of sports," Melendez said. "I think my preparation leading up to the game (has helped)."
In his final at-bat, Melendez was intentionally walked with two outs in the eighth inning. Two singles and an error after that decision led to Texas scoring its final three runs.
Around the bases: Due to its seven-run conquest and a run-ruled loss at No. 8 Texas Tech by No. 10 TCU (22-9, 7-2) on Sunday, Texas now sits atop the Big 12 standings. ... Kolby Kubichek pitched a career-high seven innings for Texas. He improved to 4-2 with his seven-hit, five-strikeout outing. ... Kansas State (17-14, 2-7) got a solo homer from Zach Kokoska, and two errors by Texas shortstop Trey Faltine led to the Wildcats' other score. ... Texas will play five games against non-conference opponents next week. The Longhorns will host Nevada on Tuesday and Wednesday.