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Texas 4, Nevada 3: Melendez's homer streak ends, but Longhorns' winning streak continues

Texas catcher Silas Ardoin scores past Nevada catcher Matt Clayton during Tuesday's 4-3 victory at UFCU Disch-Falk Field. The Longhorns, now ranked No. 3 in the country, have a nine-game winning streak.

While Ivan Melendez's streak ended Tuesday night, Texas' did not.

Melendez, the Longhorns' sophomore designated hitter who was two home runs away from tying an NCAA record of eight straight games with a homer, instead doubled in a pair of runs as the third-ranked Longhorns opened their midweek series against Nevada with a 4-3 win at UFCU Disch-Falk Field.

Melendez singled, doubled and was hit by a pitch. He did not hit a homer for the first time in seven games, but his offensive effort did help Texas (26-8) extend its winning streak to nine games.

"It was one of those games where nothing had much rhythm to it other than we figured out how to win the game," UT coach David Pierce said. "Just wasn't a whole lot of flow to our offense, and I think that's a credit to Nevada, who came in here and played really well."

Texas' Trey Faltine celebrates a double during Tuesday night's 4-3 win over Nevada. It was the first game of their midweek series at UFCU Disch-Falk Field.

Texas plated the game's first run in the second inning. An inning later, Melendez drove in two more with a bloop double that eluded the glove of Nevada right fielder Anthony Flores. 

The Wolf Pack couldn't get closer than one run the rest of the way. Defensive highlights by left fielder Eric Kennedy and first baseman Zach Zubia neutralized Nevada. Nevada also stranded a runner at third base in the eighth inning.

Texas used five pitchers. The Longhorns' third arm — freshman right-hander Tanner Witt — was credited with the victory. Freshman Aaron Nixon earned his team-best third save.

Witt struck out five batters over his 2 2/3 innings of two-hit relief. One of those ended a 12-pitch battle with Flores.

"I thought it was a great confrontation between he and the hitter," Pierce said. "The kid did a nice job of fouling off a lot of fastballs. What I loved to see is Tanner had the guts to go 'All right, I'm going to give him a breaking ball right here' and struck him out and froze him."

Zubia walked and was hit by a pitch and scored twice; he extended his on-base streak to 10 games.

Zubia is coming off a week in which he walked 11 times over five games. At one point last weekend, he had drawn a walk in six straight plate appearances.

Two of those walks against Kansas State occurred with the bases loaded. In a 13-6 comeback win on Friday night, Texas scored the go-ahead run when Zubia was walked with the bases loaded in the eighth. After a ball was thrown in that plate appearance's second full-count pitch, he excitedly celebrated as he took first base.

"You work so hard to get the count to 3-2," Zubia said after the 15-1 win on Saturday. "To walk home a run, it's a momentum killer and a momentum gainer. To win that at-bat, it just meant a lot to me for sure."

Zubia's run of walks have been strung together since he was moved to the third spot in the batting order. Perhaps not coincidentally, Texas is 9-0 in that span.

Zubia has 23 career homers, but Pierce believes that moving the senior slugger up in the batting order has helped him focus more on his hitting than his power. With Silas Ardoin, Cam Williams and Melendez batting behind him, Pierce labeled Zubia as "willing to be unselfish and just keep gaining 90 feet."

"I think he's realizing that his power and his RBIs are going to come just by having his approach," Pierce said last weekend. "When he sits in the three hole, I think he feels comfortable with being just a good hitter and not worrying about his power. It's crazy because it's from the four (spot) to the three, but psychologically there's a little difference."

Around the bases: During Tuesday's game, Zane Morehouse announced that he had committed to Texas. Morehouse is a right-handed pitcher at Dyersburg State Community College in Tennessee. ... Texas and Nevada will play again at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. ... While hitting in front of Melendez, Ardoin drew three walks. ... On Monday, the Big 12 honored three Longhorns in its weekly awards: Melendez (player of the week), Tristan Stevens (pitcher of the week) and Mike Antico (newcomer of the week).