Texas 3, ACU 1: Tristan Stevens remains in control as Longhorns make it a dozen in a row
If a pitcher's job is to throw strikes, then Tristan Stevens may just be the top employee at Texas.
Stevens was once again solid in a Saturday start and Texas overcame an early deficit in a 3-1 win over Abilene Christian. The two-run win at UFCU Disch-Falk Field was the 12th consecutive victory for the third-ranked Longhorns (29-8).
"To see all that hard work we put in the fall and the spring and what we continue to do and have the results back it up, it's a great feeling," Stevens said.
The Big 12's reigning pitcher of the week, Stevens allowed five hits and a first-inning run. Over his seven innings, Stevens struck out six Wildcats. He did hit a batter, but 62 of his 88 pitches went for strikes.
Perhaps most notably, Stevens did not issue a walk for the third week in a row. Stevens last walked a batter during the fourth inning of a win over Oklahoma on March 27.
That's three straight starts without a walk.
Twenty-three straight innings.
Ninety-five straight batters.
Stevens, who is a redshirt junior, has walked only eight batters over this season's 55 1/3 innings. For comparison's sake, the Texas offense has drawn at least nine walks in seven different games.
"I don't think I've ever seen that type of a run," Texas coach David Pierce said. "I do know that he has a ton of confidence in commanding his pitches."
Stevens improved to 6-1 on the season. His ERA dipped to 2.77. A converted reliever whose longest appearance at Texas before this season had lasted 2 1/3 innings, Stevens recorded his third straight seven-inning start on Saturday.
When asked about his lack of walks, Stevens credited his mindset. He said that he was big into studying sports psychology, and he said that NFL star Russell Wilson spoke on that subject during a Zoom session with the Longhorns this off-season.
"It's just not to get too high or too low and not let one pitch or one at-bat or one hit or anything affect me," Stevens said. "Just take it one pitch at a time and that's been working."
In an 18-0 win over Abilene Christian on Friday night, Texas scored its most runs since a 2010 game against Missouri. Its 17 hits were a high-water mark for the season.
A day later, Texas struggled to find an offensive pulse against Genner Cervantes. The Abilene Christian right-hander entered the game with a 5-1 record. He also had a 6.02 ERA.
But over the first five innings on Saturday, Texas was held scoreless. Mitchell Daly was responsible for the team's only two hits during that span. The Longhorns chased Cervantes on a bases-loaded walk in the sixth inning, but the game was still tied after that session.
A two-out single by Zach Zubia in the seventh inning brought home Trey Faltine and gave Texas its first lead of the game. The Longhorns separated itself from Abilene Christian (19-15) with another run in the eighth.
"Yesterday it was an 18-0 blowout, offense took over, and today it was more about pitching and defense and kind of scrapping those runs," Stevens said. "We know that we can win in multiple ways."
Saturday marked only the third time during its winning streak that Texas has either trailed or been tied after the fifth inning. The Longhorns have won their past dozen games by an average of 7.3 runs.
Around the bases: Texas sophomores Ivan Melendez and Eric Kennedy both extended their hitting streaks to 12 games. Kennedy's on-base streak is now at 17 games. ... Tanner Witt pitched the final two innings on Saturday and picked up his second save. ... Cam Williams drove in UT's final run with an RBI double. ... Texas pitcher Kolby Kubichek (4-2, 2.63 ERA) will be opposed by Abilene Christian's Spencer Chirpich (3-2, 5.18) in the series finale on Sunday afternoon.