Longhorn Bats Can’t Respond to Oral Robert’s Late Solo Homer
ORU took an early a 2-0 lead after individual runs in the third and sixth innings. The Longhorns struck back after Cameron Rupp singled, advanced to second on a great sacrifice bunt by Tant Shepherd, and was finally driven in by a Kyle Lusson single. A line drive by Tant in the seventh scored Brandon Loy to tie the game at 2-2. Unfortunately, Texas’ bats ran cold and quiet in response to Jared Schlehuber blasting a solo home run off Austin Dicharry early in the eighth. A detailed recap can be found here.
Analysis after the jump...
Sam Stafford is showing promise to be the Longhorn’s next elite ace. The left-hander comes fully equipped with a killer fastball, an unpredictable curveball, and jersey that refuses to remain tucked in. In two three-innings starts the left hander looked initially uncomfortable but gathered himself and finished strong. Against Rice, he was un-hittable and struck out eight batters. Tonight, he recorded eight strikeouts but allowed two hits and a run. Stafford has done more than enough to prove his arm is the weapon of choice for Tuesday nights. Then again, this is Augie-ball, "If you push the envelope, there is a tendency for it to unravel, and you defeat what you are trying to accomplish." Garrido is going to keep him on a short leash for now.
Carillo, Milner, Dicharry, McKirahan, and Thomas all had chances to prove themselves against Oral Roberts. All had above-average performances other than Austin Dicharry, who seems to have lost his edge. With a full count he walked in a run and then gave up a solo shot to a pinch-hitter. His contributions will be as a reliever, not a starter. Tonights staff combined for 16 strikeouts which gave overworked Chance Ruffin some much needed rest.
Personnel uncertainty has been a common theme this year. "Which running back/point guard/outfielder is Mack/Barnes/Augie playing now?!" is all too familiar. Augie knows the choices he makes now affects who has experience in the games that really matter: those games played in Omaha. This is especially applicable in the outfield:
The player who has differentiated himself from his competition is freshman Cohl Walla. A .385 batting average elevated him from freshman fodder to leadoff man in a matter of weeks. "The Koala" has great speed and baseball wisdom beyond his years. Walla is a good enough athlete to have caught 65 balls thrown by some guy named Gilbert at Lake Travis. The only knock against Walla is that he enters April with only a single walk, which is especially important now that he is leading off.
Kevin Keyes started the season at right field and was projected to be the team’s power hitter after hitting 9 HR’s last year. His stats don’t reflect his recent slump but 0-5 tonight does a good job. Keyes doesn’t have the same speed as his competition which makes him less of an asset on the bases and in the outfield. Not swinging at first pitches and waiting for a hitters ball would do him well.
I honestly don’t know what to think about Connor Rowe. After this glorious moment in Texas Baseball history he became one of my favorite Longhorns. He seems to be a perfect fit for Augie-Ball: he’s one of the fastest players on any field, he plays superb defense, and has proven himself to be clutch. Rowe disappeared from the lineup after batting near .200 but I was confident he could redeem himself if given a weekend of opportunities. I was wrong; he didn’t record a hit all weekend and went 1-4 tonight. Connor's season remains far from over...
Senior Kyle Lusson started his campaign off with a bang but faltered at the plate. Big Lusson is having a resurgence after a homerun against Tech and an RBI tonight. I wouldn't count him out at any point because few things are as motivating as standing in the dugout watching your kid brother play.
Jonathan Walsh is listed as a catcher and will probably be Cameron Rupp’s replacement but has seen some quality time in left field. He sat this game out but his statistics are comparable to the team averages despite him receiving half as many at-bats. Being one of three switch-hitters on the roster never hurts. His development over this year and the next is going to be interesting to watch.
Russell Moldenhauer possesses the hottest bat on the squad. His batting average has jumped .100 in 11 days. There's a small catch (or well, lack of catches for him). I’m almost certain he has not stood in the outfield all season. His suspect defense limits him to being a designated hitter.
Other points of interest
I realized tonight the importance of Brandon Loy. Loy may not be the flashiest player but the gets the job done reliably at shortstop. How reliably? .993% reliable.
A Screaming Eagle ripped a foul ball into the stands tonight that struck a student hard enough to require her to leave the game. I've noticed situations in which an entire section stares at a fellow spectator in shock after a rocketed ball occur much more often off a metal bat than in the major leagues.
The Texas Athletic Council ran a publicity campaign offering free dinner to students before the game. It was great to see a student section tailgating and siting on the third base line. Do we really need to bribe students with food to go to games?
The Road to Omaha continues on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday as your Horns travel to Norman.