After losing two of three to Baylor in Waco last weekend, the Longhorn Baseball team faced Texas State on Tuesday evening at UFCU Disch-Falk Field in Austin. Texas struggled to find solid pitching against the Bears and David Pierce's squad looked to flip the switch against the Bobcats, courtesy of RHP Blair Henley (3-3 3.99 ERA) and the Texas bullpen.
Henley showed a strong performance, shutting out the Bobcats over 5 innings, getting 3 strikeouts on 73 pitches. The Texas bullpen finished up Henley's work with Connor Mayes, Chase Shugart, Tyler Schimpf, and Beau Ridgeway each pitching an inning each, shutting out Texas State and only allowing 2 hits.
This is only Texas State’s 2nd time being shut out this year and is Texas’ 6th shutout on the season.
Despite the wonderful numbers, the Longhorns real success was finding their way out of two bases loaded, no out jams without surrendering a run. Pierce praised his pitching staff and gave them credit for finding their way out of the jams, “What I liked seeing about that is I thought we elevated out pitches and continued to make quality pitches against them… We made very quality pitches to have the opportunity to get out of it.”
When I asked David Pierce what was the difference between the bullpen this game and last weekend he simply replied, “There was really nothing different. We were at home. They hit two fly balls in the 9th, and we ran them down.”
The Texas State Bobcat pitching staff also pitched well despite the loss, allowing 2 earned runs and forcing Texas to hit into 15 ground outs and stranding 11 base runners.
However, Texas State couldn’t stop Freshman Ryan Reynolds (3-4 RBI, 2B x2), who went on a bit of a hot streak late March into mid-April, but slowed down on his trip to Baylor. Looks like Reynolds is back on track and all it took was some cage time with Coach Pierce according to him. “After a slow weekend, I got with the coaches, and Coach Pierce came up and told me not to swing as hard as I can. He actually came into the cages with us to show us how to do it. Just take 75-80% on our swings and not try to muscle it. Just let it happen.” Ryan Reynolds is now hitting .291 with 10 RBIs and 3 HRs, since March 22nd. Without the Baylor series he hitting .356 with 10 RBIs and 3 HRs.
The other RBI came from Kody Clemens (1-4 RBI) on a base hit right up the middle to score Zane Gurwitz (1-3) in the bottom of the 3rd. Kody is now sitting pretty with 16 RBIs over 27 games.
With their 25th win of the season, Texas has now matched their win total from the 2016 season with 15 games left in the regular season.
The Longhorns will take on the University of New Orleans this Friday at 7:00 PM CST.
Some of the fans with eagle eyes may have noticed a cut right next to the eye of Ryan Reynolds. When I asked him what happened, this is what the freshman from Monroe, Louisiana had to say:
“Me and David [Hamilton] go out before the game to hit in the outside cages. Walk in there and there is a bird flying around. We figure, alright, we’ll go get it, let it go. Sucker is hard to catch. Ran for five minutes trying to catch him. There is two divider nets, and I didn’t see, but they were zip-tied together. I was running after the bird, and the next thing I know I was looking straight up at the sun. I feel something kind of running down [my cheek]. It’s blood. I got clotheslined by the net. David was laughing, and of course, everyone came out and was laughing.”
(So you didn’t catch the bird?)
“Nope. Austin Todd came and got the bird in 2 seconds.”
- Apr 19 2017 08:42 AM
- by Will Baizer
After 7 straight hours of baseball, Texas takes the double header to the tune of 5-4 and 6-1. They redeemed an anemic offensive performance in the first game and notched head coach David Pierce his first AND second wins as the Longhorns' skipper.
The pitching performances by Kyle Johnston and Blair Henley were phenomenal, as Rice was only able to put up 1 run a piece against them both.
Texas 5, Rice 4
In the first game Johnston threw 93 pitches (63 strikes) over 6 innings where he managed 6Ks, 1BB on 7 hits, but only gave up 1 run in the first inning. Johnston got some help from his offense with patient at bats and the Rice pitching staff helping the Longhorns out. Three of the Longhorns' runs came from walks or hitting the batter with bases loaded. David Hamilton's single in the 6th inning gave the Longhorns three runs and a 5-1 lead going into the final inning of the first game.
Chase Shugart came in to relieve Johnston, but had a little trouble of his own. After facing 7 batters in 2/3 innings and throwing 26 pitches (13 strikes) he had made the game interesting again by letting Rice crawl back with 3 runs.
O’Hara came into take the game from Shugart’s hands with a man on 1st and 2nd and two outs. Rice’s Gneiting singled to left field off of O’Hara and over the glove of a leaping Sosa Andres. Wunderlick, the man on 2nd, crossed 3rd and tried his luck rounding for home to tie the game. Travis Jones picked up the ball and threw it home. Out. Ball game.
“It felt pretty good out of the hand… I saw where [Wunderlick] was… I knew I got him,” said Travis Jones after the game.
And he got him for sure, beating Wunderlick to the plate and sealing the 5-4 win for Coach Pierce, his first. One down, one to go.
Texas 6, Rice 1
The second game started off a little shaky for Texas as they trotted out true freshman Blair Henley for his first action on the mound as a Longhorn. Henley started off with a 20-pitch inning and getting out of a bases loaded, no outs jam while only giving up one run. And it would be the only run for Rice in the game.
Henley agreed that the first inning could have gone better, “Yeah the first inning was rough… I was pretty jittery, but I settled down threw how I usually do.” And Blair settled down, the Owls paid for it. He used all four of his pitches (fastball, curve-ball, slider, and change-up) and it baffled Rice’s bats. Henley ended up throwing 80 pitches over 5 innings tallying 8 strikeouts (4 of them buckling Rice batter’s knees) and only letting up that 1 run.
Rice also trotted out a true freshman in Matt Canterino, but his rough times didn’t just stick to the first inning. He was only able to get through 3 innings, throwing 84 pitches and gaving up 4 runs. And it didn’t just end with Canterino. Each of Rice’s subsequent pitchers threw over 50 pitches and struggled mightily.
Kacy Clemens ate up the poor pitching by Rice. In game 2 he went 3-3 with a home run over the left field fence and had 2 RBIs. Over the span of both games Kacy went 4-5.
Another guy who had a good day was Michael McCann. McCann who had a nice game at the plate in game 2, going 1- 2 with an RBI.
The other catcher, Michael Cantu, has struggled so far in this series. Cantu has gone 1 -4 so far consisting of some less than stellar at bats.
Overall the Longhorns' approach to the plate was very calm. Each player worked counts and the team had over 20 at bats go to 3 balls or more in the two games. However, they’re still stranding base runners - there were 16 over the two games (not as bad as Rice who stranded 19).
The youth on this team has done very well. Guys like David Hamilton, Blair Henley, Austin Todd, Ryan Reynolds, and Nolan Kingham have stepped up early and are helping the Longhorns start the season solid.
The Longhorns and Owls will play again on Sunday at noon.
- Feb 19 2017 08:09 AM
- by Will Baizer
Texas dropped the first game of the four game series 2-3. Post game, head coach David Pierce preached to the team about having a short memory, as the Longhorns have a double header the next day against the Rice Owls.
It was a hard fought pitcher’s duel through most of the first 6 innings. Texas pitcher Morgan Cooper was on fire through the first 5 innings, throwing 67 pitches (46 strikes) and recording 6 K’s. But the Longhorns couldn’t help Cooper's effort as they struggled for hits against Rice’s veteran thrower Dane Myers – who recorded the longest outing of his career with 90 pitches (50 strikes and 3 K’s). After that Cooper threw 20 more pitches (12 strikes) before he was relieved by sophmore RHP Nolan Kingham.
Texas led 1-0 in the 6th inning off a sacrifice fly from Kacy Clemens, but Rice scored two off a double that flew over the head of a diving Travis Jones in left field. The Longhorns responded with a run of their own off a Kody Clemens' shot to right field.
After the 6th Kingham came in with a strong performance, hitting 97 mph and retiring the first 7 batters he faced. But the game slipped through his fingers as he allowed one run off of one hit. Notch an assist on that run off a passed ball from Michael Cantu and a questionable call by the home plate umpire to allow the run to cross (when the ball had hit the Rice batter DiCaprio on the foot in the batter’s box). Once it hit DiCaprio’s foot (which was blatant), it should’ve been a foul ball and DiCaprio back in the box with a 2-2 count.
Instead Rice won the game off that run.
Texas couldn’t get manufacture another run after that, despite having runners in scoring position. In fact, Texas had a hard time with RISP. The Longhorns stranded 5 runners in this game, one on 3rd and two on 2nd. Freshman Ryan Reynolds accounted for 3 of those stranded runners and the other two were given to the other Freshman, Austin Todd.
Rice had their struggles at the plate as well. They just couldn’t put metal to ball as 8 of their 8 strike outs were made swinging at air. The Texas pitchers came right at the Rice batters as well. Morgan Cooper recorded 17-24 first pitch strikes and Nolan Kingham record 8-10 first pitch strikes.
Stars of the game: Freshman David Hamilton and Sophomore Kody Clemens
Hamilton, who made two spectacular defensive plays consisting of one back handed grab and long toss to first for an out and another bullet to on another long throw to first.
David Pierce had high remarks for Hamilton, "He was outstanding... Not just okay. He was excellent tonight... He's a kid who's going to have some range that other don't."
Kody Clemens had a hot night at the plate, notching the Horns’ second run off the homerun and tallying a single. Kody was very excited about the new strategy at the plate by the new staff stating, "I loved it! We just have a better opportunity to swing the bat."
- Feb 17 2017 10:55 PM
- by Will Baizer
Texas Baseball: Extreme Makeover
Texas Baseball has a lot of 'new' in 2017. From players to turf, coaching staff to fences, mentality to toughness, this team is undergoing what could be called an extreme makeover.
Starting with the hiring of a new coaching staff in late June, typically a time when Texas Baseball teams of years-past would be just getting home from Omaha, the winds of change were starting to blow. The University of Texas brought in David Pierce as it's new skipper, replacing the legendary Augie Garrido. The 'name' wasn't what some felt was 'flashy' enough, but this guy is Texas Baseball, 100%. He's the right fit.
Coach Pierce brings with him 27 years of coaching experience, and as a Texas native he has the network with HS and Club teams around the state. And he's not afraid to tap into that network. From his first night on the job with his assistants, Sean Allen and Philip Miller, and Director of Baseball Operations Drew Bishop, the phones were burning up, getting right to work calling current and future recruits, solidifying their commitments-spreading the word. Texas Baseball was back. This type of excitement, drive and work ethic has paid tremendous dividends both on and off the field. Commitments from top young players seem to be coming in fast and furious. You cannot go to Twitter and not see the familiar notification from Coach Pierce announcing good news via #40AcresFamily.
— Twitter API (@twitterapi) November 7, 2011
In two days we will start to see the fruits of his labor begin to reap benefits. The word coming from folks inside the program are that the pieces are all in place, it's just going to take a few weeks to settle on a lineup and the right combo. What does this mean? It means that for the first time in several years we have depth. Additionally, we have pieces of the puzzle that can field different positions and that gives this new staff options, lots of options. Texas fans will see the roster shuffled quite a bit while the staff assesses its needs and what works. While I won't list every player on the roster, understand that outside of Cantu at C, every position is up for grabs.
Let's first take a look at our starting pitching for the opening weekend vs Rice.
Friday: Morgan Cooper
Saturday (1): Kyle Johnston
Saturday (2): Blair Henley
If you are an opposing coach, this has to be a very daunting thing to see.
Let's start with Morgan Cooper (R-JR.) He is fully recovered from Tommy John surgery from a couple of years ago, and it is showing. He has been throwing consistently in the 92-93 range on his fastball, and even ramped it up to 96 in the alumni game two weeks ago. He has a changeup, a wicked breaking ball that buckled some of the MLB players in the aforementioned alumni game, and this year has added a slider to his arsenal. There is chatter that he has a very good chance to be a first round draft pick in this year's draft.
Kyle Johnston (SO) took the fall off, as he racked up a lot of innings in summer ball. The staff seemed fine with this, and from what I've been told, he is in top form. While he has had issues with control in the past, if he can limit the free passes to batters, his slider, (which was recently clocked at 89 MPH,) he should be a regular participant in the weekend rotation.
Blair Henley (FR) while still very young, has the mentality of a seasoned veteran. He shies away from nobody. He is a sturdy kid and has some solid pitches. He has a low- to mid-90s fastball, mid-80s slider and he's shown he can locate well. Clearly the coaching staff likes what they've seen so far, so much so to name him as the starter on Saturday's prime time DH game.
That leaves Sunday. Who goes into this spot? I believe it all depends on where we are with the series at this point. The common thought is that the start could go to Nolan Kingham (SO.) The sophomore righty has an overpowering 95-97 MPH fastball, and it moves. He also has good command of a slider, change and a curve. The key for Kingham will be not to press. He has shown a tendency to try to do too much and it affected his control and location.
Connor Mayes (JR) could get a look here as well, although I believe he will be more of a Tuesday guy to start the season. He had somewhat of an up-and-down sophomore season, but he did pitch a gem against TCU to close it out. This summer in California, he earned an All-League commendation for his performance with 49 Ks and a 2.17 ERA.
Nick Kennedy (SO) gives Texas an option of a lefty on the bump. He could be an option on Sunday, as well as Tuesday. Kennedy, (like Kingham,) has to keep things in check and not try to do it all. His fastball is most effective when he lets it work for him, and not when he tries to power it in for the additional 2-3 MPH of velocity. Consistency for Nick will be the key to him seeing more innings and opportunities this season.
This year's closer should be Chase Shugart (SO.) Chase has a fastball that sits 92-95 MPH and added a nice cutter this fall. He was THE go-to guy last season with over 30 appearances. He should get some help this year if needed as Texas has guys like Beau O'Hara (SO) and Beau Ridgeway (SO)
Texas has some further depth in the bullpen with Kevin Roliard (FR) Blake Wellman (SO) Tyler Schimpf (R-SO) and Jon Malmin (SR)
In the field, I am predicting the following for Friday night:
C-Michael Cantu (JR)
1B-Kacy Clemens (SR)
2B-Bret Boswell (R-JR)
3B-Ryan Reynolds (FR)
SS-David Hamilton (FR)
LF-Travis Jones (JR)
CF-Zane Gurwitz (SR)
RF-Patrick Mathis (JR)
You may ask, "Where does the depth come in, and why are we starting two true freshmen on the dangerous left side of the IF?" Depth is all over the place. Think about the following.
- Reynolds can also play 1B
- Gurwitz can play 3B, 2B, SS; heck he can probably even pitch if you gave him the opportunity-he is Utility defined.
- Austin Todd (FR) will be able to play anywhere in the OF.
- Tyler Rand (SO) can play LF but Jones will probably get the nod due to his defense, stick and his upperclassman leadership.
- Andres Sosa (FR) is fully capable of playing RF in relief of Mathis. He may also see time at 3B.
- Joe Baker (JR) will get some reps at either 2B or SS, depending on how his arm is and what the needs are at the plate. He could even see some time at DH.
- Kody Clemens coming off of arm surgery will mainly see some time at DH.
Hitting has been somewhat of a struggle the last few seasons. More specifically, consistent hitting. One thing I have immediately noticed is Pierce's (and staff) impact on hitting approach. The guys are going to the plate expecting to hit the ball. They are aggressive, and are not standing around like cigar store indians. The bats were active in the alumni game as well as the Fall Orange/White World Series. Yes, I know, those were intrasquad scrimmages. I get it. I'm here to tell you that this year is going to be very different. Mathis, Jones, Gurwitz, Boswell and Kacy Clemens all have the ability to hit at or around .300 in 2017. I'm not going to say that the frosh will hit at that level, because it typically takes some time for them to adjust to the collegiate game, especially at the plate. Cantu also could have a breakout year at the plate. Keep a close eye on Boswell. I really liked what I saw from him this summer, fall and in the alumni game.
I am going out on a limb and going to predict that Texas, as a team, hits .300 this year. That's right, I said it. I'm that confident.
Photo Courtesy @DP5hookem
So let's take a brief look at the schedule while we're here. I'm not going to do a series-by-series breakdown, but I will tell you that this is a gauntlet before we even hit Big 12 Conference play.
Four games against #23 Rice in Austin.
Three games against UConn in Austin.
Four games against #18 Stanford in Palo Alto.
Three games against UCLA in Austin.
Tuesday matchup against #20 Texas A&M in Austin.
That's 9 games against Top 25 opponents to start things off.
THEN we open conference play hosting #14 Texas Tech.
This team should be tuned up and ready when Tech comes to Austin.
We have come this far, and no mention yet of the fences. Yes, they have been moved in. The alleys and gaps have been reduced. This will pay dividends for hitters. Of course the fences are the same distance for opposing hitters, so let's hope that our pitchers are up to the task!
I've mentioned before that this team's goal is Omaha. There's a mentality and toughness that has been lacking in recent seasons. The players love the new staff. The staff, Pierce, Allen, Miller, Haig & Bishop, are on the same wavelength and it shows with the team.
Any questions, I'm here to discuss. Friday can't get here soon enough.
— Twitter API (@twitterapi) November 7, 2011
Photo Courtesy of @TexasBaseball
- Feb 15 2017 03:12 PM
- by joeywa
Sean Allen and Philip Miller join the Texas coaching staff after serving under head coach David Pierce at Tulane and Sam Houston State.
Press release via University of Texas Athletics.
AUSTIN, Texas — Sean Allen and Philip Miller, who have served as assistant coaches on David Pierce’s staffs for the last five years at both Tulane and Sam Houston State, have been named assistant coaches at Texas, Pierce announced Friday. They will begin their appointments immediately.
“I’ve had the opportunity to coach both sides of the game — pitching and hitting — so when I look at Sean and Philip, I know they fit into the philosophy that works for us,” Pierce said. “That philosophy is based on trust and loyalty, and it’s what has allowed us to remain together as a staff for as many years as we have. Both have great expertise about the game, and I have full confidence in our abilities as a group. This transition is going to help us in creating success as efficiently as possible for the program.”
Allen and Miller bring strong ties to the state of Texas from their time with Pierce at SHSU. In addition, Allen is a graduate of the University of Houston, lettering with the Cougars from 1998-2001, and served as a member of the staff there from 2002-07. For Miller, it was his second stint at Sam Houston State, after first serving as an assistant there from 2007-09.
“People have been recognizing their efforts and abilities for years, and The University of Texas baseball program will benefit by having both Sean and Philip in burnt orange,” Pierce said. “Sean will be our recruiting coordinator, and he knows the state of Texas as well as I do, which will be a great asset to the program. He’ll also serve as our hitting and infield coach, the same role he has had on my staff since 2012. Philip will instruct both the catchers and outfielders and serve as assistant hitting coach. He’s a tireless worker, and he’ll assist Sean with recruiting duties.”
Allen, 37, comes to Texas with 15 years of coaching experience at the collegiate level. Most recently, he was associate head coach under Pierce with the Green Wave. He was Pierce’s lead recruiter, playing a major part in leading Tulane to NCAA Regional appearances in both of his seasons in New Orleans.
In addition to recruiting, Allen worked primarily with hitters and infielders. Under his guidance, the Tulane offense pounded out 66 home runs to lead the American Athletic Conference and rank 13th in the nation in 2016. Tulane had three players hit double-digit home runs in a single season for the first time since 2005, while leading the AAC in slugging percentage (.423) and ranking second in runs scored (355), RBI (324) and walks (258).
Five hitters earned all-conference honors, including shortstop Stephen Alemais, who became a 2016 All-AAC First Team selection and a third-round pick (No. 105 overall) of the Pittsburgh Pirates in this year’s Major League Baseball Draft.
Prior to Tulane, Allen served as an assistant coach with Pierce at Sam Houston State for three seasons. There, he helped the Bearkats to three straight Southland Conference titles, while receiving NCAA Regional berths in each of those seasons. In 2014, the team ranked 25th in the nation and second in the conference in hits (610). It also led the conference in scoring (5.7 rpg), home runs (31) and slugging percentage (.390).
From 2008 to 2011, Allen served as an assistant coach at Florida International University, where he was recruiting coordinator and pitching coach and assisted with the infielders. Allen helped the Panthers put together a 130-103-1 record, while also earning NCAA Regional berths in 2010 and 2011, and capturing the Sun Belt Conference title in 2010.
In his first full season as pitching coach in 2009, Allen was instrumental in turning around FIU's staff. After finishing at or near the bottom of the Sun Belt in 2008 in various categories, his tutelage turned the Panthers’ staff into one of the conference's best. For most of 2009, FIU led the conference in ERA, while the Panthers finished with the lead in strikeouts and surrendered the fewest walks with a single-season school record low of 88.
Allen’s coaching career began as a student assistant with Houston in 2002 where he worked with the UH infield and coached first base. He spent the next five seasons as an assistant coach with the Cougars, helping guide UH to NCAA Tournament appearances in 2002, 2003 and 2006.
As Houston’s hitting and infield coach, Allen played a major role in the offensive development of Brad Lincoln, a consensus All-American who was named the National Player of the Year by four different outlets in 2006. That same season, Allen's lineup hit 71 home runs, the fifth-highest total in UH single-season history, while batting .314 and slugging .544.
A four-year letterman with the Cougars from 1998 to 2001, Allen concluded his playing career as UH's all-time leader with 542 assists. During that time, the Cougars competed in an NCAA Super Regional and advanced to NCAA postseason play in three consecutive seasons.
The Carlsbad, N.M., native earned his bachelor's degree in sports administration from Houston in 2001. He is married to the former Stephanie Beyelia, a former soccer standout at UH.
Miller, 33, spent the last five seasons as an assistant coach under Pierce at Tulane and Sam Houston State.
Working primarily with catchers and outfielders, while also assisting hitters, Miller tutored Tulane catcher Jake Rogers, who was one of the best defensive catchers in college baseball during his time with the Green Wave. In his career, Rogers – the Houston Astros’ third-round selection in this year’s draft and an All-AAC First Team member – gunned down 83-of-146 (.568) potential base stealers, including 27-of-43 (.628) in 2016. Tulane’s three catchers also helped the pitching staff lead the nation with 13 shutouts.
In three seasons with Pierce at Sam Houston State – Miller’s second stint with the SHSU program – Miller was instrumental in helping the Bearkats to each of their Southland Conference titles and NCAA Regional appearances. From 2012 to 2014, those SHSU squads racked up 40, 38 and 43 wins, respectively. The 43 wins marked the second-highest total for the Bearkats since their jump to Division I in 1987. In 2012, Sam Houston State earned national rankings in each of the major collegiate baseball polls (ranking as high as No. 20) for the first time in program history.
In 2010 and 2011, Miller was an assistant coach at his alma mater, Northwestern State (La.). There, he served as infield and defensive coach, while also handling first base coaching duties. During the 2010 season, he helped a league-high seven NSU student-athletes to All-Southland Conference honors.
Miller held his first assistant coaching role at Sam Houston State from 2007 to 2009 where he was the outfield and first base coach, while assisting hitters, infielders and catchers. He coached three All-Americans and six All-Southland Conference outfielders.
Prior to his coaching career, Miller played four seasons at Northwestern State. During his freshman and senior seasons, the Demons took home the regular season Southland Conference title, earning a bid to an NCAA Regional in 2005 as an at-large selection.
The Clinton, La., native earned his bachelor’s in business administration from Northwestern State in 2005 and his master’s in education from Sam Houston State in 2010. He is married to former NSU softball standout Lyndsey (Gorski) Miller and the couple has a two-year-old daughter, Meredith Mae.
In addition to the assistant coaching hires, Pierce has retained Drew Bishop as the director of baseball operations. Bishop has held that role with the Longhorns program since 2009 after completing a four-year playing career (2005-08) at UT.
- Jul 02 2016 07:11 AM
- by HornSports Staff
If you follow Texas baseball, you probably know the name Adrian Alaniz. During Alaniz’s freshman season with the Longhorns, he hurled the 19th no-hitter in school history on April 16th, 2005. The win not only led the top-ranked Longhorns over the Sooners, it was part of a magical season that saw the Longhorns win it all in Omaha. It gave Texas, a traditional baseball powerhouse, its 6th baseball national championship.
I had a chance to catch up with Alaniz, who still enjoys a life of baseball, football and family.
Aaron Carrara: Thanks for taking a few minutes out of your schedule to talk with me. What’s life like for you these days?
Adrian Adrian Alaniz: I am currently coaching HS Football and Baseball in my hometown of Sinton, TX. In football I am the quarterbacks coach and in baseball I am the pitching/infield coach. My teaching position is Elementary PE.
My wife and I are living in Sinton with our one year old daughter Brylee Nicole.
Aaron Carrara: You were drafted by the Cardinals in 2006 and the Nationals in 2007. Tell us what the experience was like to play professional baseball.
Adrian Alaniz: Playing professional baseball was an experience of a lifetime. I learned a lot of what it's like to be a professional and more importantly how to grow as a person. Minor league ball is difficult when you’re on the road from ballpark to ballpark and sleeping in a different bed every night. Managing that was tough. But playing ball as a job was the most rewarding. I met many connections and learned lots from many great ball players over the years.
Aaron Carrara: Texas baseball fans will always remember the no-hitter you threw against Oklahoma in 2005. What was going through your mind when you realized a no-hitter could become a reality?
Adrian Alaniz: That day has a very special place in my heart. Still today people come up to me and mention that they were there or watched it on television. Many of my students even ask about it and how it felt.
I first realized what situation I was in after I sat down in the dugout at the end of the 6th inning. No one came near me or even spoke a word to me. I just sat there and followed my routine in between innings of drinking water and keeping a towel over my arm to stay warm. The standing ovation from the crowd in the 9th inning as I ran onto the field for my warm up throws is where it finally hit me. Sticking with the process and trusting Teagarden is all I tried to think about. But striking out the final batter and the entire stadium erupting was awesome. Having experienced all that in my red-shirt freshman year was huge for me. The towels laid out on the floor by my teammates from the dugout door to my locker was pretty cool too.
Aaron Carrara: Share your favorite locker room story from that 2005 postseason run.
Adrian Alaniz: My favorite locker room story for the 2005 postseason run was just before game 2 of the Championship series vs Florida. Coach Garrido brought in good friend and movie director Richard Linklater into our locker room to show us the ending of "The Bad News Bears" movie that he had just finished producing. The clip showed the Bears receiving their tiny 2nd place trophy while the Yankees showed off their huge first place trophies. The Bears were disgusted by the fact that they came so close to winning and all they ended up with was a lousy trophy. Basically, coach Garrido summed it up for us by saying we don't want to be 2nd and losing stinks. But we can celebrate like the Bears did at the end of the movie when we win the championship. Guess it worked out alright haha.
Aaron Carrara: Do you still keep in touch with Coach Garrido or any of your old teammates?
Adrian Alaniz: I still try my best to keep in contact with Coach Garrido and my teammates. Not living in Austin limits that but during the Alumni weekends is when I usually catch up with all of my former coaches and teammates. However, I still text/call with my former roommates Clayton Stewart and Andrew Casares regularly.
Aaron Carrara: In 2012/2013, Garrido’s team barely finished .500. In 2014 they were at the CWS. Talent and coaching were essentially the same. From a player's perspective, how do you explain the difference between 2012 & 2013 compared to 2014?
Adrian Alaniz: From a player’s perspective, I believe that in those down years, it’s easy to point the finger at the coaching. But in reality, the players have to look at themselves in the mirror. Leadership within the locker room has to be a priority and in the years that we have been successful we have had that. Everyone wants to blame the coaching thinking that we need a change of faces but then we popped back into the picture in 2014. Cohesiveness in the locker room is a big part in the successes and failures of a team and I believe that the years that we have been the most successful has been because of that.
Aaron Carrara: You are a former high school quarterback and had offers from Nebraska and Baylor to play Division I football. What are your thoughts on Texas football and new head coach Charlie Strong?
Adrian Alaniz: I think Coach Strong and his staff have done a great job with the program since joining before this season. Jumping into a program without knowing any of the players and not having your own recruits is tough for a coach, but they have grinded it out this year. The way he has handled the off the field distractions have been huge for this University and football program. He wants guys that are going to do the right thing on and off of the playing field. You can win and count on guys like that in any program. I am really looking forward to the upcoming recruiting classes that he is bringing in and can't wait for our football team to get back to where it belongs!
Aaron Carrara: Give us a prediction on how the UT baseball team does this season? How strong of a possibility is a trip to Omaha?
Adrian Alaniz: I believe that our baseball team will pick up right where it left off from last year. Getting to Omaha doesn't go unnoticed and with the guys coming back from last year’s team it is going to go a long way for them. I think those incoming players will jump right in and follow the path that these veterans have paved for them. These boys are hungry for what they didn't get to achieve last year so watch out for the Horns this year!
Aaron Carrara: You once said if you had a million dollars you would buy a Hummer. What are you driving these days?
Adrian Alaniz: A million dollars and I would buy a Hummer?! Haha ... what was I thinking? Guess back in college the Hummer was a big deal but it’s not what I would buy today. Right now I am driving the same 2008 Ford F150 Lariat 4x4 that I bought when I signed with the Nationals right out of college. She's still kicking but I've taken that truck all over the east coast while playing ball. We did just buy a new 2015 Chevy Tahoe this summer but of course my wife drives it (haha). Maybe in the near future I can upgrade to another vehicle.
Aaron Carrara: What do you like most about being a dad?
Adrian Alaniz: There are many things that I love in being a Dad. The hugs, kisses and laughs are just a few. Since I coach and am gone most of the day with practices and games, coming home and seeing my daughter’s face light up because she misses me is the best. She definitely has me wrapped around her finger!
Aaron Carrara: Thanks a million for your time.
Adrian Alaniz: HOOK 'EM!
- Dec 06 2014 08:20 PM
- by Aaron Carrara
“[Texas] is the best college in the world… why wouldn’t I want to go there?”
Travis Jones faced a decision regarding his future when he was selected in the 39th round of the MLB draft. Jones could play for the Texas Rangers, or attend and play for the Texas Longhorns.
“It has to be life-changing money to [choose the draft],” Jones said. “I definitely wanted to go to college.”
The Atascocita High School senior stands at 6’5’’ and 190 lbs. Jones played shortstop his senior year, but is also listed as an infielder on TexasSports.com.
Jones is ranked number 128 overall and the number 21 shortstop nationally by Perfect Game, so it wasn’t a surprise that his skills are sought after.
“It was a cool experience to be a part of the draft process and to get drafted as a high school player,” Jones said. ““Going through all of the draft stuff, I wasn’t too surprised that I got drafted, but where I got drafted was a surprise.”
Tommy Nicholson, recruiting coordinator for Texas, on Jones: "Travis is very athletic and a good-sized kid who can run, hit for power and throw. He's a really exciting player all around. Out of this class he's potentially a five-tool guy, a guy that makes your team go. He's really exciting on the bases and has played in a lot of games and come up with a lot of big hits."
“I’ll definitely go to Austin and do collegiate baseball and experience college,” Jones said. “It’s definitely been my dream school; the atmosphere at Texas and the atmosphere at the games are awesome. Everything about Texas is where I want to be.”
Jones, a native Texan, has had the University of Texas in mind for a very long time, and is already beginning his journey by opting out of summer league.
“I’m going up to Austin a little bit early to take some summer classes,” Jones said.
Jones hasn’t decided where his college career will take him in the future and is considering majoring in finance or engineering.
“Going into the draft after my third year of college is going to be another tough decision. I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it,” Jones said.
Jones is realistic about his opportunities for playing time as a freshman, “I’m not the type of person to talk about stuff like that,” Jones said. “I’m going to go up there and try to play in my spot, and hopefully I’m able to work my way into the lineup.”
Jones isn’t shy about his desire to remain in his home state either, “I would definitely want to stay in Texas and play for the Rangers and Astros.”
- Jun 25 2014 07:43 PM
- by Kylie Hopkins
Michael Cantu, the 6’4’’, 220 lbs catcher from Moody High School in Corpus Christi, knew before the MLB draft that his mind was made up.
“I was surprised I got drafted because when I got called in the third round, I told everyone that the University of Texas was looking really appealing,” Cantu said.
Cantu got drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 30th round, but turned the major leagues down for a chance to play at Texas like his future teammate, Tyler Schimpf.
“I was surprised I got drafted because I told them I was going to Texas,” Cantu said, “But it was a blessing.”
Cantu poses a great addition to the Texas baseball team. In 2014, he was named a 3rd Team All-American by Perfect Game and was All-Region 1st Team in Texas. Cantu played catcher and pitcher during Moody’s 2013 season and helped his team to the 4A title game.
Going to college prior to the minor leagues proved to be a large factor in Cantu’s decision. “Earning money has always been there [as a factor], but right now, it’s about getting to Texas.”
Texas currently has a catcher, Tres Barrera, but Cantu hopes to act as an option for the position while attending as a freshman. “We really haven’t talked about [playing time]. The catcher, Tres, is a great ball player and he’s doing a good job for Texas right now.”
Cantu is ready and willing to compete for his spot and his chance to prove himself as a Longhorn.
Tommy Nicholson, the recruiting coordinator spoke to TexasSports on Cantu, "Michael has really soft hands behind the plate along with an accurate and strong throwing arm.” Nicholson said. “He's a great receiver, a great catch and throw guy. He has as much raw power as maybe anyone in the country for high school."
Though he turned the major leagues down for now, as a player, Cantu hopes to prove himself worthy for another selection after his college career. “I do hope to get drafted again after college, it’s always been a dream of mine,” Cantu said. “I’ve grown up around the game.”
Cantu’s willingness to prove himself in college to earn his spot in the MLB relates to a family desire for greatness. “My dad played but didn’t made it to the [MLB], so it’s always been a dream of mine.”
- Jun 20 2014 04:19 PM
- by Kylie Hopkins
“I was at home sitting on the couch and I had actually just finished watching the Texas game when I got the call [for the draft]; I’ve already made the decision, I’m going to Texas.”
Tyler Schimpf is a hot commodity in baseball. As a senior in high school, he was recently drafted picked in MLB’s first year player draft by the Mets in the 3rd round and again by the Athletics in the 31st, but Schimpf turned down both offers for the opportunity to play for Augie Garrido and the Longhorns.
Schimpf, a native Californian, has been ranked number 379 nationally as a right-handed pitcher and number 16 in his home state by Perfect Game. He wasn’t surprised by his draft into the MLB.
“The Mets called me in the 3rd and offered me,” Schimpf said. “I turned them down because I really wanted to go to Texas and it just wasn’t enough to take me away.”
Schimpf has officially visited Austin, and says that it’s one of his favorite cities. The atmosphere and the academics of Texas intrigued him, as well as the history and success of the baseball team.
“Texas has always been my dream school to go to,” Schimpf said. “Ever since I knew college baseball it’s been a goal of mine to play for the Longhorns.”
Skip Johnson on Schimpf, "Tyler is a physical kid that's very athletic. He's a fastball, curveball, changeup guy and a plus athlete. He's a tough kid who has pitched in big situations."
Schimpf is one of four pitchers offered by the Longhorns for 2015, and all are right-handed. Schimpf, who had 172 strikeouts in his high school career and pitched a perfect game at 2013 WWBA World Championship, wants to do whatever it takes to earn his spot on the Texas team.
“[The coaches] are excited to have me aboard, but it’s fair to everyone,” Schimpf said. “They tell me you have the opportunity to start here as a freshman, you just have to earn it.”
Schimpf will be majoring in business at the McCombs School and is considering a minor in sports medicine or kinesiology.
“If baseball doesn’t end up working out, I’d like to start a own training center,” Schimpf said. “If I can’t be a professional athlete, I want to train professional athletes.”
Schimpf may have skipped out on the draft this year, but his goal is to go for Texas for three years and join the MLB after his junior year.
“I would play for any team [that drafts me],” Schimpf laughed.
- Jun 16 2014 12:03 PM
- by Kylie Hopkins
Scouting Report: The Anteaters are more Texas than the Horns – in other words, this team plays small ball and manufactures runs with almost no extra base hits at all. They get creative and shift on defense a lot, but are excellent in the field and on the mound.
Their road to Omaha: Beat the No. 1 overall seed in their own park twice when they won the Corvallis Regional, then went to Stillwater and beat Oklahoma State in consecutive games.
They’re in the CWS Final if…they play from ahead. Even if it’s only one run, this team is built on pitching a defense and has the ability to make a single run the difference in a game.
Projected first week: 1-2 – The Anteaters will send Louisville packing in an elimination game, but won’t be among the last four standing at TD Ameritrade.
Scouting Report: Not the best pitching, bullpen, offense or defense in Omaha, but this is an extremely confident bunch. The one thing on this team that is the “best of” for the Horns is their coach – Augie Garrido knows how to win this tournament.
Their road to Omaha: Built emotion and confidence in wins over Rice and A&M at the Houston Regional and leveraged that psychological boost into back-to-back wins over Houston in the Supers.
They’re in the CWS Final if…they continue to believe in themselves and each other.
Projected first week: 3-1 – A replay of the Houston regional – a win over UCI in the opener and again in a winner’s bracket game, but then dropping one before winning a decisive game to go to the Finals.
Scouting Report: This isn’t the most talented Vanderbilt team in the last 5 years, but they’re very balanced in all phases. The Commodores aren’t going to Wow anyone with their season stats, but they don’t do anything poorly. Vanderbilt loves to pressure a team by stealing bases.
Their road to Omaha: Vandy didn’t drop a game in the Nashville Regional. The Commodores lost a game to Stanford in Super Regional play.
They’re in the CWS Final if…they find consistency and an emotional boost. Vandy doesn’t lack much, but needs a little extra help in order to emerge from Bracket 1.
Projected Outcome: 3-2 – Vanderbilt wins the loser’s bracket and then beats Texas in the first game of the bracket finals, but that’s as much noise as they make.
Scouting Report: Louisville is built on power pitching and athleticism. Their team size, speed and strength show up on the base paths, in the batter’s box and on defense. On the mound, they have an embarrassing abundance of guys that can throw gas.
Their road to Omaha: Louisville wasn’t seriously challenged in either the Regional or Super Regional they hosted. After sending home their in-state rival, UK, in the first round, the Cardinals then ended the Cinderella story of Kennesaw State in Super Regional play.
They’re in the CWS Final if…they’re ready to elevate their game. Playing in the AAC, and a Super Regional against Kennesaw State is not on par with games against the other 7 teams in Omaha.
Projected first week: 0-2 – Somebody has to go 2 and Que. Any team from North of the Mason-Dixon line and East of the Mississippi River is normally a safe bet for an early exit.
photo credit: stadiumjourney.com
Scouting Report: Texas Tech has improved throughout the season. Their pitching has stolen the postseason show for them. Even though the offense has been quiet during Regional and Super Regional play, the Red Raiders always seem to produce a run when needed.
Their road to Omaha: The Red Raiders won the Coral Gables Regional and their Super Regional against College of Charleston thanks to unbelievable starting pitching.
They’re in the CWS Final if…their pitching stays hot. This is pretty simple – Tech has only allowed four runs in six postseason games. If that kind of dominance continues, the Red Raiders will contend.
Projected first week: 0-2 – Their inexperience will catch up to them in Omaha. It’s been a great run, but the other seven teams at the CWS aren’t a No. 4 seed (College of Charleston).
Scouting Report: Longhorn fans are familiar with the Horned Frogs – there’s no need to tell you that they excel in all areas. TCU has no real weakness and enters the tournament as one of the favorites to win it all. The only question is whether their MLB draftees are affected by being picked.
Their road to Omaha: One of only two national seeds to make it to Omaha, TCU cruised through the Fort Worth Regional with a 3-0 record. The Horned Frogs then hosted Pepperdine in the Supers and needed a two-run rally in the 9th inning of the decisive game to advance to the CWS.
They’re in the CWS Final if…they don’t get cute. Players and teams feel pressure to go ‘above and beyond’ when they get to Omaha. Most that press themselves end up playing at a level beneath their capability. TCU needs to trust their abilities and not fall into this trap.
Projected first week: 3-1 – Welcome to the Finals, Frogs. They’ll drop their second or third game along the way, but emerge from Bracket 2.
Scouting Report: Virginia has no real weaknesses as a team. They are the outright favorites for good reason. The main question for UVA fans is whether they have enough pitching depth to win it all.
Their road to Omaha: The Cavaliers were test in both rounds of postseason play, but answered the bell repeatedly. Maryland proved particularly tricky in the Super Regional round, but UVA slowly squelched that fire.
They’re in the CWS Final if…they play from the winner’s bracket. Virginia has the talent to win it all, especially if they don’t play any extra games and get quality starts from the pitching staff.
Projected first week: 3-2 – Virginia will win a game in the bracket finals before finally succumbing to TCU in a decisive game to go to the finals.
Scouting Report: Ole Miss is a veteran team that does everything well. There aren’t elite draft picks on their roster, so their preseason pick to finish 6th in the SEC West suited them fine and allowed them to play underdogs all season.
Their road to Omaha: Hosted a Regional and beat Washington in the finals. Then went to Lafayette, dropped the first game against ULaLa and rebounded to win two straight.
They’re in the CWS Final if…they can relax and just play baseball. Ole Miss struggled for years to get over the Super Regional hump and make it to the CWS. Now that they’re in Omaha, the tendency will be to try to do too much.
Projected first week: 1-2 – The Rebels will not be an easy out in any game and will account for themselves well. Their first CWS in over 30 years will be memorable, but it won’t include a trip to the Finals.
- Jun 13 2014 11:12 AM
- by Matt Cotcher
What I told the players was don't start talking about the future, stay focused on the fundamentals of the game and have those discussions back and forth about getting your three outs on time and getting your runs in every inning you can. You can get so excited about something you can't control, like going to Omaha, that you forget about fundamentals and you lose to your nerves and your emotions. – Augie Garrido
There simply is no better coach of the mental aspect of college baseball. Make no mistake, that is a very solid Houston Cougar ball club that is packing their bat bags and heading home.
But head home they will after a 4-0 defeat at the hands of Garrido’s Texas Longhorns.
After two wins in as many days, the Longhorns punched their ticket to Omaha and the College World Series. After a thrilling 4-1 win over their old, in-state rival Aggies, the Horns secured a berth in the Super Regionals. To top that achievement, Texas played near-perfect baseball for two consecutive days, beating Houston 4-2 and 4-0.
In three of four games in the Houston Regional, the Longhorns played very good baseball. The Texas team that played against Houston in the Super Regionals would have beaten that Texas team…soundly.
Which brings it back to zen master Garrido, “They [the players] are running the team. They are driving the bus, they are inspiring and motivating each other, and they are giving each other confidence by doing what's right and competing to the best of their abilities. They are doing it.“
And to better understand what it is that the players are doing, take a look at some stats from their first game against the Cougars:
• 0 errors and 0 passed balls
• 1 stolen base
• 2 sacrifices
• 3 walks (against a Houston staff that was allowing less than two walks per game)
Again showing their focus, the Longhorns scored four runs in the fourth inning on Saturday. In that half inning, Texas had: a walk, a bunt single, a stolen base and a sacrifice fly.
That’s two straight days of championship baseball. And for the 35th time in program history, the team is making reservations in Omaha to prove it.
- Jun 07 2014 04:35 PM
- by Matt Cotcher
If anyone tries to tell you that the Texas Longhorns’ rivalry with the Texas A&M Aggies is no longer a big deal since the Ags’ recent departure to the SEC, tell them to look no further than to this weekend’s Rice Regional to see that the ill feelings for one another are still alive and well on both sides.
The media couldn’t have asked for a better set up: A decisive game three pitting two historic arch-rivals against one another in their first meeting in two years, and it didn’t take long for those old, buried feelings to find their way to the surface as players from both schools taunted each other with Horns down and lots of trash-talking. Even the fans joined in, bickering back and forth on social media.
After the Horns started the weekend strong with wins over both the Aggies and the Rice Owls in their first two games of the Regional, with a chance to send the Aggies packing on Sunday night, Texas fell short, setting up a winner-takes-all championship game.
After much concern over who would be throwing for the Longhorns, Texas sophomore pitcher Chad Hollingsworth took the mound for his first start of the season.
photo credit: mysanantonio.com
When the Longhorns took the field, it seemed as though they would continue their lackluster play from the previous game, committing uncharacteristic defensive errors, base running errors, and leaving (not so uncharacteristically) runners stranded. Hollingsworth looked shaky early on as well, struggling with his command.
A couple of innings later, however, Hollingsworth settled in, holding the Aggies at bay. However, the Longhorn offense’s inability to score with runners in scoring position once again reared it’s ugly head. The Aggies were all but daring the Horns to score, yet they couldn’t seem to find a way to get any runs on the board.
It wasn’t until the bottom of the 7th inning, clinging to a one-run lead, that the Horns finally found some offensive mojo, scoring two insurance runs to stretch the lead to three.
With Texas leading 4-1, Hollingsworth continued his dominance for the final six outs, sending the Longhorns to the Super Regionals and the Aggies back home to College Station.
Sure, it may have been ugly at times, but as they say a win is a win, and beating your long-time rival makes the win that much sweeter. This post-game quote from a Texas fan stated it best when he said, “I had almost forgotten how fun it is to beat the Aggies.”
But now, the Longhorns need to look ahead as they continue their journey on the Road to Omaha.
- Jun 02 2014 10:07 PM
- by Marian Hinton
HornSports will keep you updated on the Houston Regional throughout the week – here’s an introductory look at the three teams that Texas might play:
Conference Record: 23-7 (C-USA)
Team ERA: 2.50
Team Batting Average: .294
2014 in a nutshell: Rice won both the C-USA regular season and conference tournament titles. Went 1-2 against the Horns in 2014.
Expectations in the Regional: Rice was consistent throughout the season and looks like a sure bet to advance to the final of the Houston Regional as the No. 1 seed. Is their ceiling high enough and can they ramp up their level of play from C-USA – those are the questions to keep in mind with the Owls.
Conference Record: 13-11 (Big 12)
Team ERA: 2.45
Team Batting Average: .266
2014 in a nutshell: After a hot start in Big 12 play, Texas stumbled to a 4th place finish in the regular season. The Horns lost in the divisional final round of the conference tournament.
Expectations in the Regional: This is a young Texas team that has already exceeded the expectations set from the last two seasons. The Horns are certainly capable of advancing from this regional if they play to their abilities.
Conference Record: 14-16 (SEC)
Team ERA: 3.58
Team Batting Average:.286
2014 in a nutshell: The Aggies were picked 3rd in the SEC West in the preseason and even got one first place vote. After finishing league play with a losing record, the Aggies were shutout by Arkansas in the first round of the SEC tournament.
Expectations in the Regional: The talent is there for A&M to win a couple of games in this Regional, but everything from their season indicates otherwise. Even if the team is motivated when they see burnt orange on the field in the first game, they do not look like a threat to finish better than 1-2.
George Mason Patriots
Conference Record: 16-9 (A-10)
Team ERA: 3.14
Team Batting Average: .271
2014 in a nutshell: The Patriots beat VCU in extra innings to win the A-10 tournament in their first year in the league. Their automatic bid to the NCAA field of 64 is their first since 2009.
Expectations in the Regional: While not a threat to win the Regional, the Patriots are capable of winning a couple of games and throwing a wrench in things. George Mason has three quality starters and will not be an easy out – even from the loser’s bracket.
- May 26 2014 11:20 AM
- by Matt Cotcher
Big 12 Record: 18-6 – No. 1 seed
Why they can win the tournament: In postseason baseball, pitching and defense win…the Pokes led the conference in both Team ERA and fielding percentage. Cowboys only gave up 57 earned runs in league play – no other team in the Big 12 allowed fewer than 60.
Why they won’t win the tournament: Much like the Longhorn teams of the past few years, the Cowboys offense is just good enough to win games. That often translated to wins in the regular season, but is an Achilles heel in postseason play.
Projected outcome: 3-2 – lose in the Division I finals
Big 12 Record: 17-7 – No. 2 seed
Why they can win the tournament: TCU ranks 1st in the Big 12 in hitting and 2nd in pitching. They are the most balanced team in the tournament. The Horned Frogs also do a great job at turning double plays and limiting stolen bases.
Why they won’t win the tournament: When the Horned Frogs traveled to Houston for the Minute Maid tourney, they lost 2 of 3 games. Another neutral tournament site, coupled with postseason pitching from the opposition…same result?
Projected outcome: 4-0 – Tournament Champions
Big 12 Record: 15-9 – No. 3 seed
Why they can win the tournament: Kansas is on a streak of three Big 12 series sweeps. No other team enters the tournament with the momentum of the Jayhawks.
Why they won’t win the tournament: For all the success on their recent streak, KU is still an average offensive team with an average pitching staff. With the level of play being raised in the postseason, the Jayhawks won’t be able to counter.
Projected outcome: 3-2 – lose in the Division II finals
Big 12 Record: 14-10 – No. 4 seed
Why they can win the tournament: The Red Raiders can mash – Tech ranks first or second in the league in most offensive categories. Texas Tech led the Big 12 in hits and scored 16 more runs in conference play than the second place team.
Why they won’t win the tournament: Tech’s 10-2 record at home is excellent, but their 4-8 mark on the road is troubling. Good offensive teams often struggle when they leave the confines of their home park.
Projected outcome: 1-2 – losing in divisional play
Big 12 Record: 13-11 – No. 5 seed
Why they can win the tournament: Texas is as talented and well-rounded as any team in the field. Early success and confidence could ignite the roster and this team has a higher ceiling than any other in OKC.
Why they won’t win the tournament: The Longhorns allow too many walks and their .970 fielding percentage ranks 6th in tourney field. Extra base runners and extra outs spell doom in postseason play.
Projected outcome: 4-2 – losing in the tournament final
Big 12 Record: 9-14 – No. 6 seed
Why they can win the tournament: The Mountaineers do an excellent job of extending at bats. The team struck out fewer times than anyone in the field and they do a great job on the base paths. That kind of discipline is necessary in tournament play.
Why they won’t win the tournament: After winning their series against Texas in Morgantown, WVU went on the road and lost their final six league games. West Virginia finished 2-10 in Big 12 road games.
Projected outcome: 0-2
Big 12 Record: 8-15 – No. 7 seed
Why they can win the tournament: Junior Adam Toth might be the league’s best offensive player. If Toth catches fire and carries the offense…
Why they won’t win the tournament: Beyond Toth, BU can’t score. Baylor ranks last in Big 12 in batting and only scored 71 runs in conference play.
Projected outcome: 1-2 – losing in divisional play
Big 12 Record: 8-16 – No. 8 seed
Why they can win the tournament: (crickets chirping)
Why they won’t win the tournament: The Sooners have a Team ERA more than a full run higher than any team in the tournament. OU’s pitching staff is the only one in the tournament field allowing a .300+ baa. Oklahoma also finished with the worst fielding percentage in the Big 12.
Projected outcome: 0-2
- May 20 2014 12:28 PM
- by Matt Cotcher
For all the success that the Texas Longhorns built over the first half of the season, they have allowed it to be chipped away. While their early season wins still stand strong in computer calculations, it is easy to see that this team is close to losing all the advantages from those wins. Will that core stand strong, or will the tree topple?
The Texas Longhorns lost their third consecutive Big 12 series in Morgantown, WV over the weekend. The Longhorns sparkled on Saturday in a 2-0 win, but sandwiched that game with ugly performances on Friday and Sunday.
After Sunday’s loss, Texas is 11-10 in conference play. The Longhorns started the Big 12 season with a 9-3 record, including two consecutive sweeps, but have now lost seven of their last nine conference games.
Playing without weekend starting pitcher Dylan Peters, Texas gave the ball to Lukas Schiraldi on Sunday. With a big opportunity to shine in the finale, the junior from Austin only lasted two innings, giving up four hits and two walks on the way to surrendering five runs. Only three of the runs were earned, but Schiraldi was not able to effectively locate his pitches and didn’t provide the spark that his teammates obviously need.
Key moment of the series
On Sunday, the Longhorns struck first, taking a 2-0 lead in the top of the 2nd inning. However, West Virginia responded with 4 runs in the home half. The Mountaineers scored on just 2 hits and capitalized on 2 errors from the Texas defense.
Instead of seizing momentum in the finale, the Horns allowed WVU to establish control of the game. Although Texas continued to score, they never were able to wrest momentum from West Virginia after that inning.
Inside the series
Friday Loss – Texas Defense commits 5 errors
Saturday Win – Texas Defense commits 1 error
Sunday Loss – Texas Defense commits 3 errors
Friday Loss – Texas batters have 11 hits and one walk
Saturday Win – Texas batters have 6 hits and one walk
Sunday Loss – Texas batters have 12 hits and four walks
Friday Loss – Texas pitchers gave up 11 hits, 4 walks and hit 1 batter
Saturday Win – Texas pitchers gave up 11 hits and 2 walks
Sunday Loss – Texas pitchers gave up 14 hits, 4 walks and threw 3 wild pitches
The glaring aspect of those data sets is that this series loss does not belong to the Texas offense. While the defense and pitching could certainly be feeling pressured to be perfect in order to compensate for the lacking offensive production of late, this weekend those two aspects were anything but perfect in Morgantown. Whether it is pressure, fatigue, or locker room issues, Augie Garrido and Skip Johnson must find a way to reignite the pitching and defense.
For example, the key difference in Saturday’s win is that Texas pitchers were at their best when the Mountaineers were on base. In the lone win of the series, the Horns were outhit 11 to 6 but held WVU hitless in seven at-bats with runners in scoring position. Three Texas pitchers combined to leave 12 Mountaineers on base in the game.
photo credit: wvusports.com
The Big Picture
The Longhorns are now at 34-15 overall and 11-10 in Big 12 play. In mid-April, the team was 30-8/9-3, but that feels like a different season. All of the postseason prospects that seemed a foregone conclusion are dying like fly balls at the Disch.
At 11-10, Texas is now fifth in the Big 12. Worse news still, the four teams above them in the standings are the same ones who beat Texas in weekend series. The conclusion of this ugly tale is that the three teams that the Horns totaled an 8-1 record against are now three of the bottom four teams in the Big 12 standings.
In back-to-back weeks, the Longhorns entered Sunday games needing a win to get a series victory. Texas lost those two games by a combined score of 18-9. In the second half of the season, this team is not responding well when the pressure is highest.
“Losing is almost like winning. The difference is in winning you do the right thing at the right time, in losing you have to do the right thing at the wrong time. What is going to be different this year is their attitude.” – Augie Garrido
- May 04 2014 05:26 PM
- by Matt Cotcher
After splitting a pair of incredibly close games on Friday and Saturday, the Texas and Oklahoma State baseball teams battled on Sunday for a series win. In the finale, the Longhorns lost, 8-3 - if you’re an optimist at heart, Sunday’s game was an outlier. If your glass is half empty, then Sunday’s game was nothing more than another offensive failure that continued the theme from the past few seasons.
After combining for only six runs and no homeruns in the first 19 innings of the series, the teams each belted a homerun and combined for three runs in Sunday's third inning. But that was just the beginning for the Pokes – Oklahoma State poured it on in the top of the fourth inning, scoring five total runs. The resulting six run margin effectively put the game out of reach for the streaky Longhorn offense.
Key moment of the series
With the series hanging in the balance, the Horns used a double, a single, a stolen base and a walk to load the bases and stage a two out rally in the home half of the third inning. However, Vince Wheeland jumped ahead of Tres Barrera with a first pitch strike and then induced an inning-ending, and rally-killing, fly ball to center field. Seizing momentum from the effort, Oklahoma State went to work in the top half of the fourth, scoring five runs on five hits and an error.
It’s easy to point to the top of the fourth as the difference in the game, but given the way Texas has won games this year, it’s the bottom of the third that stood out. The Longhorn offense had numerous offensive opportunities in their previous six conference games - when they failed to capitalize today, the wheels came off the wagon.
photo credit: collegebaseballcentral.com
Inside the series
Despite 2014's overall success, looking at year-to-year numbers reveals that Texas hasn’t had a drastic improvement in team batting average. Instead, the Horns have scored most of their runs this season with timely offense. Friday’s game is a perfect example – the Longhorns scored three runs: one on a fielder’s choice, one on a poor throw by OSU, and one on a two-out single. On Saturday and Sunday, the team failed to capitalize on those types of opportunities.
Some credit for the dismal offensive performances is absolutely due Oklahoma State and TCU. However, the disturbing trend for Texas is that they’re needing near-perfect defense and pitching in order to win games.
- WIN – On Friday, Parker French and Chad Hollingsworth combined to pitch a two-hit shutout
- WIN – On Friday, Texas played error-free defense
- LOSS – On Saturday, Morgan Cooper had two outs and was ahead of Donnie Walton 0-2 before allowing an RBI single that proved to be the winning run
- LOSS – On Saturday, Texas rallied with two outs, putting two men on base before Ben Johnson scorched a single to right field. The ball was hit hard enough that the runners had no chance to score. Instead of taking a lead, Texas stranded three baserunners.
- LOSS – Dillon Peters allowed only one run…when he made a throwing error on a sacrifice bunt with two runners on base
Texas fans were bullish on their team following a sweep of the Oklahoma Sooners. The Longhorns had won eight of their last nine Big 12 games and scored 55 runs in those games (6.1 rpg). The Horns were in first place in the conference race.
Then TCU and OSU happened. Texas has now dropped five of their last six Big 12 games. In those six games, the Longhorns have only managed to score eight runs (1.3 rpg).
There’s an old saying in baseball, ‘good pitching beats good hitting.’ The question that looms for the Longhorns is how good are TCU and Oklahoma State’s pitchers?
- In their 13 losses, Texas committed 21 errors. That’s translates to a whopping 57% of their total on the season in only 29% of their total games. The Horns have only played error-free in two losses. That’s all intuitive in baseball – you lose when you play bad defense. What is troubling is the extra pressure the errors put on the Texas offense and pitching staff. The Texas offense isn't efficient enough to overcome defensive errors and the Longhorn pitchers can't carry the burden of perfection.
- With 2 series hanging in the balance (KU and OSU), the Longhorns allowed a big inning in the decisive third game of each series. Both Kansas and Oklahoma State scored five runs in their finales against Texas and that level of production put both games out of reach. Those two half-innings are the difference between 10-8 in the Big 12 versus 12-6.
photo credit: dailytexanonline.com
Augie Garrido on not being able to get runners on base home: “You want to score more runs, but the hard part of this game is that there is a factor where you hit balls okay and they catch them and turn them into double plays. It is something you cannot control. What you can control is how you respond to it. You need to stay focused on competing and looking forward to next at-bat, or you will drag it out onto the field and so on. If you are not mentally tough enough, you are going to cave in.”
Parker French on the team's mood after the TCU series: “The mood was the same. We had one bad weekend, but I think we are still a really good team. It was one bad weekend where we just didn't execute and it's as simple as that. It did not affect our confidence at all, especially this late in the season."
Zane Gurwitz on keeping the confidence up after the TCU weekend: “You just have to stick with the process and not let one bad weekend effect your season. If you do, it can all go downhill. We worked hard all fall and spring, and we are not going to let it go to waste. We were ready to get back out there and show that last week wasn't us.”
OSU Coach Josh Holliday on the weekend: “In the end, we found ways to get the job done. Our kids battled. They brought it, and they responded. I’m proud of their resolve to compete.“
Augie Garrido on if there is any sense of worry with the team's recent struggles: "No, I don't have a sense of worry, I honestly do not. We are asking the players to get away from it so we can start over, and what adjustments we make will be in that direction. When God made us I wish he would have waited for computers, because they have a trash button, and you could just push trash, and all of this would go away like on the computer, but it doesn't. So, we have to find ways to be the trash button, so that's what we will be focusing on these next couple of days."
Augie Garrido on if he is worried with the lack of runs in the past few games: “No I am not worried about it, because, hitting is about getting on base, making solid contact, and having quality at bats.”
- Apr 27 2014 06:41 PM
- by Matt Cotcher
In 2013, the Texas Longhorns baseball team finished with a 27-24-1 record. For the first time since 1956, the Horns finished last in their conference. I’m not sure which feat is more incredible: Going 50+ years without finishing last, or Texas baseball being so bad that they finish in last place?
That statistic is the essence of the Longhorn baseball program – sustained excellence. That’s why Augie Garrido emphatically began the season by saying, “…the standard for Texas Baseball hasn't been met in the last two years, and it isn't acceptable.”
Garrido continued, “We spent all fall attacking what I think was our number one problem from last year, and that is the word ‘entitlement’. I think that we have taken really important steps forward in changing the attitude of being entitled and recognizing who we are, and changing that too.”
To his credit, Garrido is delivering. Texas is 30-8 overall and 9-3 in Big 12 play. Not only is that conference record good enough for first place in the Big 12, the Horns are ranked as a top-10 team by all five major polls. Their 30 wins are three more than they had in total last season.
Texas athletics needed sea change five months ago. Texas football started it. Rick Barnes continued it. Now, Augie Garrido is finishing it.
Baseball fans are notorious for their superstitions. Right now there are a handful of readers that are cursing me for jinxing the team.To that group, I only have one thing to say, “Relax.”
This team is almost 40 games into the schedule. To borrow from Bill Parcells, “You are what your record says you are.”
I’ll do the math for you – Texas is playing .789 baseball. Better still, courtesy of going 6-2 against the RPI top-30, Texas is No. 1 in the country in ISR and No. 5 in RPI.
Not sure yet? The Horns are 12-3 road/neutral games. In other words, the win as often away from home as they do at The Disch.
photo credit: dailytexan.com
No matter what angle you approach it from, Texas baseball is back on top. No, they aren’t ranked No. 1 in any of the five major polls. That’s not what this is about.
It’s a feeling. It’s confidence.
In my estimation, there are two primary reasons for the resurgence. First is that 10 out of 11 recruits, in Baseball America’s 2nd ranked class, stuck with their commitment and chose to become Longhorns. Of the 10 that came to Austin, five of them were drafted by a major league team.
Mark Payton and Nathan Thornhill were also drafted, but chose to return for a fourth year. That’s a total of seven players that could be getting paid to play baseball.
Whether it’s been high school standouts or rising seniors, the MLB first-year player draft has not been kind to Texas baseball. What fans are enjoying this year represents “what might have been” if players like Dylan Bundy, Wyatt Mathieson and Blake Swihart had chosen to play in Austin instead of the minors.
The second reason the Horns are rolling right now is not simply because the offense is finally matching the pitching. The key this season is how timely the offense has been. If you like clichés, this Texas offense is clutch.
As a team, the Longhorns are batting .268. That’s only .09 points higher than the team batted in 2013. There are 148 Division I teams with a better team batting average than Texas.
But this team is producing. The Longhorns have scored 190 runs. That’s just six short of their 2013 season total…in 13 fewer games.
Closer examination of this clutchiness reveals some eye-popping stats. The two worthy of the most attention are: Texas is batting .281 with two outs; and, of Texas’ 180 runs this season, 85 of them have come with two outs.
So, to summarize, the 2014 team was spared from the customary pillage by the MLB draft and the offense is clutchy. And, oh, by the way, all the strengths that Texas fans take for granted under Garrido? They’re as gaudy as ever…
- Texas has a team ERA of 2.12. That’s tops in the Big 12 and No. 5 in country.
- As a staff, the Horns are holding opponents to a .222 batting average. Again, that’s the best mark in the conference.
- Team fielding percentage is .979. That’s only second best in the Big 12 (No. 13 in NCAA).
And finally, lest we be chastised by Bill Little, fans shouldn’t forget that the cook mixing all these ingredients has won more ball games than any other coach in college baseball history. From pushing the ‘entitlement’ button to calling for sac bunts, there is no other teacher in the game that has the ability to connect with his players the way Garrido does.
At 75 years old, Garrido is established as an all-time great regardless of sport. I’m talking about names like Wooden, Summit and Gable. Garrido is, literally, a legend sitting in the home team’s dugout.
Texas’ head baseball coach would scoff at being compared to John Wooden. Nevertheless, Garrido borrowed one of his oft used quotes from the UCLA icon in saying, “the game of baseball doesn’t build character. It reveals it.”
The Longhorns are 30-8. Consider their character revealed.
- Apr 17 2014 11:35 AM
- by Matt Cotcher