Baseball

Texas defeats SHSU, 4-1, remains undefeated ahead of important weekend in Houston

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AUSTIN — Of Texas’ first nine opponents, Sam Houston State was the toughest. SHSU was the only Longhorn foe thus far ranked in the top 100 of the NCAA’s RPI rankings. The Bearkats still met the same fate, a loss, as everyone else David Pierce’s ballclub has played this year.

UT defeated Sam Houston State 4-1 Tuesday, with freshman Pete Hansen earning the win. He struck out six, walked one, and allowed one unearned run. Junior Zach Zubia drove in a pair during Texas’ four-run fifth inning.

“It was a great game for us to have,” Pierce said after the game. “They’re a very solid team. Their lineup is good, especially at the top, and really some plus arms. It was a quality win. I do think it’s the best team we’ve played up to this point.”

The only Bearkat run was posted in the first. Senior Duke Ellis committed an error on a fly ball with one out to put a runner into scoring position. Hansen allowed another single, and walked another to load the bases.

Hansen forced a popup, then allowed a ground ball through the left side that scored one run. SHSU tried to add another, but left fielder Eric Kennedy threw out Corbin Vines at the plate to limit the Bearkats to one run.

“He had a little stress in the first,” Pierce said. “Outside of that, he got locked in and was really good.”

It would be the only run they scored all evening. Hansen settled in and retired the next 12 batters he faced.

“I stuck to my stuff, and knew my guys were going to be solid behind me the rest of the game,” Hansen said. “I trusted them and made it happen.”

Hansen worked his fastball, but his finishing pitch was his slider. Even his curve was effective as he pitched four perfect innings after his rocky first.

“I definitely I had control with my slider,” Hansen said. “It’s been my go-to pitch all year. I just knew I had to trust my pitches, and hitters are going to get themselves out if I just throw strikes.”

Texas trailed for much of the game, but took control after they sent nine batters to the plate in the fifth inning. Kennedy started things with a single, and boldly advanced to third with nobody out on a single from freshman Silas Ardoin.

With one out, junior Murphy Stehly grounded into a fielder’s choice that scored Kennedy. Next at bat, senior Austin Todd singled to score Ardoin.

Two batters later and with two outs, Zubia added his opposite field single to push two more across and cap the scoring for the night.

“We had seven bases on balls and eight strikeouts so it’s a good ratio,” Pierce said. “It’s really nice to see us put that inning together.”

Sophomore Kolby Kubichek pitched 2.1 scoreless innings in relief of Hansen before he was replaced by freshman Andre Duplantier II. Duplantier II recorded his first career save on 1.2 innings of shutout pitching.

Texas travels to Houston this weekend to participate in the Shriners Hospital for Children College Classic for the first time since 2014. They’ll play three games at Minute Maid Park, facing LSU on Friday at 7 p.m., Arkansas on Saturday at 6 p.m., and Missouri on Sunday at 3 p.m.

“It’s going to be awesome for our kids to go play in a pro venue, which they haven’t done since I’ve been here in a Major League venue,” Pierce said. “It’s going to be fun for them.”