Texas 11, Southern 0: Backed by big bats, Tristan Stevens leads Horns to rout
Tristan Stevens didn't allow the announced crowd of 5,447 much time to savor Texas' return to the NCAA baseball tournament Friday.
With Stevens recording yet another efficient outing, No. 2 Texas rolled to an 11-0 win over Southern in its Austin Regional opener at UFCU Disch-Falk Field. The second overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, Texas (43-15) moves on to play either Arizona State or Fairfield on Saturday evening.
The win also was Texas' first NCAA postseason game at Disch-Falk in 1,089 days.
"I think (the win) kind of helps sets the tone for the weekend and gets the ball rolling again," Stevens said. "I think this game gets the momentum going for this team."
Southern (20-29) managed just four hits off Stevens, who struck out six and did not issue a walk. No Jaguar reached third base against him.
Stevens has pitched at least seven innings in his last 12 starts. Already the Big 12's leader in wins, he improved to 10-3 and lowered his ERA to 2.77.
"I thought he did a nice job of being Tristan Stevens and just attacking the strike zone," Texas coach David Pierce said. "I think he trusts himself when it comes to preparation and his routine, and he knows he's put the work in."
Normally the No. 2 starter in the rotation, Stevens was tabbed by Pierce to start Friday. That move that saved staff ace Ty Madden, whom Pierce said will pitch on Saturday. And since Stevens threw only 82 pitches, he could be available for a game later in the regional.
While meeting with the media Thursday, Texas outfielder Mike Antico joked that "when we play with Tristan on the mound, I think the games are about 2 hours and 15 minutes."
A day later, it actually took 2 hours and 37 minutes for Stevens and relievers Palmer Wenzel and Jared Southard to finish off the Jaguars. In Texas' last 14 games since the start of May, only five have lasted less than three hours; Stevens started four of those games.
"I really don't even notice that I work fast," Stevens said. "When you're in that environment and when I'm in that mode, I just kind of want to get the ball and I want to go and I want to be the aggressor."
Stevens didn't need that much offensive support Friday. Texas, though, gave him 11 runs to work with.
In the bottom of the first inning, Antico drew his Big 12-leading 52nd walk and then stole his Big 12-leading 30th base. After he scored on a sacrifice fly, Texas took a 2-0 lead on Ivan Melendez's solo blast to left field.
With his 12th home run, Melendez tied Kacy Clemens for the second-most homers hit by a Longhorn in a single season since 2011. It also busted Melendez out of a miniature slump. Last week, he struck out nine times over his 10 at-bats at the Big 12 Tournament.
"I think Ivan's going to have a great week and potentially be good the rest of the postseason if he stays confident and just stays with his approach," Pierce said.
Southern nearly got out of the second inning unscathed, but Isaiah Adams just missed out on a diving catch in center field on what turned out to be a two-out, three-run double for Mitchell Daly. Daly later scored, and Texas added another run in the third.
Up by a touchdown, Texas coasted. The Longhorns collected a hit in each of the eight innings in which they batted. Silas Ardoin added a two-run double in the seventh, and Cam Williams clubbed a two-run homer in the eighth.
The offensive outburst gave Texas a double-digit run total for the 18th time this season. Texas was coming off an appearance at the Big 12 Tournament in which it scored 12 runs over its four games.
"Of course, everybody's going to look at the opponent and say that maybe that factored into it, but we don't believe in that," Ardoin said. "We came out and just put together good at-bats."
Around the bases: The last shutout for Texas in the NCAA Tournament was a 10-0 victory over Texas Southern in UT's 2018 regional opener. ... UT first baseman Zach Zubia drove in two runs and extended his on-base streak to 34 games. ... UT shortstop Trey Faltine committed two errors. ... The announced attendance was a season high for UFCU Disch-Falk Field.