The college baseball season is officially underway, and the Texas Longhorns looked like the number one team in the country as they squared off against the Rice Owls over the weekend at Disch-Falk Field in Austin.
Entering the preseason as the number one team in the country, the Texas Longhorns know that to return to Omaha and the College World Series, the team will have to have an “All Gas, No Brakes” approach to the season, and it showed over the weekend against Rice.
The Rice Owls are coming into the season hoping to contend in Conference USA with a new head coach in Jose Cruz Jr. at the helm, but for Cruz Jr. and the Owls, they will have to get back to the drawing board after the Longhorns held them to just three runs the entire weekend.
In-game one of the series on Friday, the Longhorns sent out Friday night starter Pete Hansen to kick off the 2022 season. A Golden Spikes Candidate and Preseason First Team All-American, Hansen showed why MLB scouts rave about him. With a stellar offense behind him, led by redshirt sophomore Silas Ardoin, who went 3-for-3, with three RBI including a home run, all Hansen needed to do was pitch, and that’s what he did. Going six strong innings of shutout baseball, giving up only three hits and striking out eight. The Longhorns would win the game grandly, 7-0.
Getting the first win of the season on opening day gave the Longhorns much confidence going into game two of the series on Saturday. The offense continued; this time, it was redshirt sophomore Trey Faltine, who went 3-for-5, with two doubles and four runs driven in.
Much of the scoring done by the Longhorns was due to the lack of pitching by the Owls. Walks seemed to be the theme for the Owls pitching staff could not find the strike zone with a total of 11 walks issued, which allowed the Longhorns offense to take advantage of the mistakes.
Tristan Stevens was also very dominant on the mound for the Longhorns. A night ago, Hansen’s impressive performance, Stevens followed suit, going six shutout innings with three strikeouts. The Longhorns would end the night and take the series from the Owls with a final score of 15-1.
Going for the series sweep on Sunday, the Longhorns picked up right where they left off on Saturday, led by first baseman Ivan Melendez. The redshirt junior who was a Preseason First Team All-American selection stole the show, going 2-4, with six RBI, of which were two monster home runs that sealed the deal of the Longhorns.
On the mound was sophomore right-handed pitcher Tanner Witt. Having spent his freshman season working out of the bullpen, Witt was given the opportunity to make his first collegiate start on Sunday. After giving up a first-inning solo home run to Rice’s Austin Bulman, Witt settled in, throwing five innings of one baseball with five strikeouts. The Longhorns would route the Owls in the final game of the series with a final score of 14-2.
With a series sweep over the Owls, the Longhorns remain atop the polls as the number one team in the country. The Longhorns will be looking to go 4-0 on Tuesday as they face Texas A&M-Corpus Christi at Whataburger Field.
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Will Gallagher/Inside Texas