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College World Series preview: Texas

 Barry Allen and Chris Lee   in Baseball

Texas makes yet-another trip to the College Baseball World Series in 2021.

Ty Madden photo courtesy of Texas athletics.

Stats are updated through games of Thursday, June 24.

Texas Longhorns (47-16)

RPI: 6 (No. 26 strength of schedule)

League finish: Tied for first in the Big 12.

Coach: David Pierce (169-82 in his fifth year at Texas, 366-202 in 10 years)

CWS appearance: 37th

National titles: 1949, 1950, 1975, 1983, 2002, 2005

Texas has history on its side.

The Longhorns are making their NCAA-leading 37th appearance at the College World Series. Texas has won six national championships and has finished runner up six more times.

Texas also hopes to learn from three early season losses at the State Farm College Baseball Showdown at Globe Life Park in Arlington. One of those three losses came to Mississippi State in the season opener. 

MSU jumped out to a 5-0 lead and handed UT an 8-3 loss. It was Texas’ ace Ty Madden’s worst outing of the season. He was touched for four runs and four hits in four innings with five strikeouts and three walks.

Texas won 14 of its next 16 games to improve to 14-5 through the first weekend of Big 12 play. Texas had a 16-game winning streak from April 1-24. The Longhorns won all but one Big 12 series and then lost to West Virginia and Oklahoma State in the Big 12 Tournament.

Texas has breezed through the post season with five straight wins. Four of those wins have come against No. 3 or No. 4 seeds in the tournament.

The lineup (Runs created per 27 outs per a Bill James formula, per games through June 20.)

1. Mike Antico (L), CF (9.6)

2. Mitchell Daly (R), 2B (7.1)

3. Zach Zubia (R), 1B (8.3)

4. Ivan Melendez (R), DH (10.6)

5. Cam Williams (B), 3B (8.5) 

6. Douglas Hodo III (R), RF (6.2) 

7. Trey Faltine (R), SS (5.8) 

8. Silas Ardoin (R), C (5.5) 

9. Eric Kennedy (L), LF (5.2) 

Res Murphy Stehly (R), 2B/SS/3B (6.6) 

Res DJ Petrinsky (R), C (5.5) 

Res Dylan Campbell (R), 2B/LF (2.6)

The offense had used a good mix of long ball and small ball to get to Omaha. The Longhorns have belted 63 home runs this season and have three players with double digit home runs. Melendez leads the charge with 12 home runs, followed by Williams (11) and Zubia (10).

Texas leads the Big 12 in walks (355), doubles (121), sacrifice bunts (45) and sacrifice flies (32). Texas is second in the league with 85 stolen bases.

Antico is hitting .467 in five NCAA Tournament games with 10 runs scored, 10 stolen base and nine walks. He leads the Big 12 in walks (60), runs scored (64) and stolen bases (39).

Texas has four players with six or more sac bunts this season, including 10 by Hodo.

One of the negatives with the Longhorns is the high number of strikeouts.  Texas has struck out 518 times this season.  Five players have 50 or more strikeouts this season, including Faltine (62) and Melendez (60), who have more than 60 strikeouts.

Mississippi State, Texas's first opponent, has racked up 744 strikeouts this season and leads the nation with 12.4 strikeouts per nine innings.

Texas struck out 18 times in the opening day loss to Miss. State. MSU right-hander Landon Sims entered the game in the fifth inning with the bases loaded and struck out the side. Sims retired all 12 batters he faced and struck out 10 batters.

On defense, Texas leads the Big 12 and ranks 13th in the NCAA with a .980 fielding mark. Texas has turned more double plays (49) than it has committed errors (47).

Pitching (numbers updated through June 20):

SP1 Ty Madden (R) 100.2 IP, 7-5, 2.42 ERA, 1.09 base runners/inning, 11% free pass rate, 30% K (threw 105 pitches / 6-20)

SP2 Pete Hansen (L) 91 IP, 9-1, 1.88 ERA, 1.00 BRIP, 7% FP, 22% K (26 / 6-20, 89 / 6-24)

SP3 Tristan Stevens (R) 106.2 IP, 11-3, 3.22 ERA, 1.18 BRIP, 7% FP, 17% K (58 / 6-22)

SP4 Kolby Kubichek (R) 51.1 IP, 5-3, 3.86 ERA, 1.71 BRIP, 16% FP, 17% K

CL Aaron Nixon (R) 32.2 IP, 3-3, 9 sv, 2.35 ERA, 1.13 BRIP, 9% FP, 26% K (14 / 6-24)

RP1 Tanner Witt (R) 50 IP, 5-0, 5 sv, 2.75 ERA, 1.17 BRIP, 11% FP, 32% K (78 / 6-22)

RP2 Cole Quintanilla (R) 36.2 IP, 5-0, 1.23 ERA, 0.82 BRIP, 7% FP, 27% K (24 / 6-22)

RP3 Palmer Wenzel (R) 21.2 IP, 3-0, 1 sv, 3.32 ERA, 1.43 BRIP, 10% FP, 14% K 

RP4 Lucas Gordon (L) 21.1 IP, 0-0, 1 sv., 3.32 ERA, 1.20 BRIP, 13% FP, 22% K

Texas has one of the top pitching staffs in the country.

Coming into the tournament, the Longhorns led the nation with a 2.89 ERA. The Longhorns also ranked third in the NCAA in hits allowed per nine innings (6.99) and WHIP (1.13).

Madden, the ace of the staff, is one of top arms in the country. He leads the Big 12 in starts (16), hits per nine innings (5.99) and strikeouts (119). He ranks second in the league with a 2.41 ERA. Madden is listed as the No. 9 prospect in the upcoming MLB Draft. He was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the 34th round of the 2018 MLB Draft out of Cypress Ranch High School.

Stevens and Hansen follow Madden in the rotation and give the Longhorns a solid three-man rotation.

Stevens (16 GS, 11-3, 2.97 ERA) leads the Big 12 and ranks sixth nationally with 11 wins.

Hansen (17 G, 9-1, 1.89 ERA) leads the Big 12 and ranks ninth nationally with a 1.89 ERA.

Witt (4-0, 5 SV, 3.06 ERA) anchors a solid bullpen. His 26 relief appearances lead the Big 12.