AUSTIN, Texas (KTSM) – Two of the best players in college baseball, who also both happen to be from El Paso, squared off on the diamond on Tuesday in Austin.
Ivan Melendez, the Coronado graduate who’s now at Texas leading the nation in batting average and home runs, and Carlos Contreras, the former Eastwood star hitting over .400 as the nation’s leader in RBI for Sam Houston met up. Melendez’ 22nd-ranked Longhorns defeated Contreras’ Bearkats 9-2, but both players had good games.
Melendez wasted no time extending his 17-game hitting streak to 18 games, with a mammoth three-run home run on the second pitch he saw in the bottom of the first inning. The 445-foot blast was the 26th of the season, just two away from tying the Longhorns’ single-season record and three away from breaking it altogether.
On the night, Melendez went 2-5 with the home run, a double and four RBI, bringing his total for the season to 80, second in the country behind Contreras. Melendez”s current stat line for the year reads like something out of a video game: A .421 batting average, 26 home runs and 80 RBI in 51 games for Texas.
As for Contreras, he went 1-3 with an RBI double and a walk, upping his RBI total to a nation-leading 88 for the season. Contreras on the year is hitting .414 with 14 home runs and the 88 RBI. His batting average currently ranks him fourth in the nation.
The duo that played Little League Baseball together when they were 10 years old are now two of the preeminent favorites to win the Golden Spikes Award, given each year to the best player in college baseball. More than anything, they’re ecstatic to see each other’s success.
That pair, along with Brandon Pimentel (UTRGV) and Adrian Torres (Grand Canyon) have been fantastic for their respective teams this year. All four of them graduated in the Class of 2018.
“I think it’s definitely special. I always think about if we played on the same team all the way up what it would be like,” said Melendez. “It’s good to see them doing well at their own schools with their own careers, so I’m happy for them.”
Added Contreras, “It’s so cool to see them doing well and keep up with their numbers. We grew up playing with each other, we played against each other in junior college and it’s amazing. It’s expected too because they were always good hitters.”
The 2022 college baseball regular season ends with series this weekend; conference tournaments get underway next week.