Baseball

Texas sweeps South Carolina, moves up to No. 10 in D1Baseball top 25

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Texas was 0-3 versus the SEC entering a weekend series with South Carolina. Thanks to strong team pitching, and timely, multi-faceted hitting against the Gamecocks, the Longhorns are now 3-3 versus the SEC. A weekend sweep of South Carolina jumped Texas to No. 10 in the latest D1Baseball.com top 25 ahead of the program’s first Big 12 series in over 670 days.

Texas was ranked No. 19 entering the weekend. A sweep of the previously undefeated No. 12 Gamecocks helped Texas jump nine spots to No. 10. David Pierce’s squad is one of two Big 12 programs within the top ten along with No. 7 Texas Tech.

“What a great weekend,” Pierce said Sunday. “We had a team that went out and played consistent baseball. We had some timely hits and outstanding pitching against a very good hitting team. Just very proud of our players. Whatever we’ve thrown at them, they’ve handled.”

The Longhorns took game one 4-1 thanks to a three-run late-inning rally, won game two 3-0 with home runs from Peyton Powell and Mitchell Daly, and swept the series utilizing six runs in the third and fourth innings on Sunday.

Texas limited one of the top hitters in the country in USC’s Wes Clarke. The recipient of several player of the week honors earlier in the season, Clarke was 3-for-11 over the weekend with a lone RBI. Though 3-of-11 is a very respectable weekend mark, it is far below the .410 average he brought to Austin.

Relievers Aaron Nixon and Tanner Witt earned victories in two of the three games, with Saturday starter Tristan Stevens receiving the W after six innings of shutout baseball. Palmer Wenzel earned the save in game two with three more innings of shutout pitching.

“We’re starting to really solidify our bullpen, who we can rely on, and how guys fit,” Pierce said.

Every Longhorn starter recorded a hit Sunday. Eric Kennedy and Ivan Melendez both were 2-for-3 and combined to score three runs. Zach Zubia and DJ Petrinsky each drove in two, with Melendez, Daly, Trey Faltine, and Cam Williams all adding one RBI each.

Pierce said after the game the team held a meeting in the dugout in Arlington following an 0-3 start to the season against SEC powers Mississippi State, Arkansas, and Ole Miss. Since that series, Texas is 11-2 and has won three subsequent weekend series against BYU, Houston, and South Carolina.

This weekend’s results spoke to the team’s resiliency, something Pierce noted in his postgame interview.

“We’re not intimidated by anybody that we play,” Pierce said. “As a coach you’re always thinking about prevention. You want to make sure you’re ready for this area. You want to make sure you can handle this. It’s loose as can be, and you worry about that. At the same time, it’s how you need to play the game. I think we have done a very good job of playing that game, flipping the page, doing a reset, and being able to play the next game.”

Big 12 Conference play begins Friday in Waco against Baylor. The Bears are 10-4 on the young season, including a 1-2 record against Power 5 teams. Texas follows up Baylor by hosting rival Oklahoma.