The Texas Longhorns (3-0) finished their opening weekend strong, notching a series sweep against the Rice Owls. The team did so by winning 7-4 on Friday night, 4-0 Saturday afternoon, and holding off a late comeback to win 5-4 on Sunday.
Home runs led the way for the Longhorns on opening night. Texas finished the day with three and finished the weekend with five. The most notable offensive player on the night was Murphy Stehly, who finished with three hits and fell only a triple short of hitting for the cycle. His efforts Friday were something coach David Pierce thought could be possible. At Thursday’s presser, Pierce said “Murphy Stehly has been very consistent, doing things right. At the end of the spring he was the best hitter.” The spring preparation absolutely benefitted Stehly in his debut for the Longhorns, and I am sure it was even more special as he did it honoring John Altobelli with No. 14 on his back.
Starter Bryce Elder had a difficult second inning but recovered and finished the night strong. Elder allowed two earned runs on four hits in 6.0 innings pitched (on 84 pitches). While he did have a walk and three HBPs, he should be able to improve his command as he nails down his four pitch arsenal.
On Saturday, pitching carried the Longhorns. While the offense had six hits (two home runs), Ty Madden had an impressive season debut. Madden allowed just four hits, two walks, struck out seven, and allowed zero earned runs in six innings of work (on 80 pitches). Freshman-southpaw Pete Hansen continued this admirable effort by pitching two innings with two strikeouts, allowing just one hit.
Sunday was a showcase of team resilience. Tristan Stevens was awarded with the win due to his relief efforts in the fifth inning, Duplantier had an inning of work allowing no hits, and Donny Diaz came in to grab his second save of the weekend.
On the offensive end, Senior DJ Petrinsky finished the day with two doubles and a walk on four ABs, with one RBI to add to his solid day. The offense was able to respond to Rice’s efforts of a comeback, putting up two runs in the top of the fifth inning and allowing Donny Diaz to shut down the offensive momentum the Owls got late.
The offensive starlets for the Longhorns were Junior Zach Zubia and Senior Duke Ellis. Zubia finished the weekend with three extra base hits and six RBIs, while Ellis led the team with five hits this weekend, two of which were extra base hits.
Defensively, the team did much better Saturday and Sunday, with the infield working more cohesively as they get more comfortable on the diamond. The pitching was overall impressive, especially from the starter Ty Madden and bullpen guys André Duplantier and Donny Diaz. Moving forward, look for Coy Cobb and Bryce Elder to improve on their solid starts against as they game more confidence and command.
Texas will face off against UTSA on Tuesday night at Disch-Falk Field at 6:30 PM CST. You can watch this game on the Longhorn Network or listen to the game on 104.9 FM The Horn.