Texas Baseball: Brown Preview and Friday Open Thread

The Ivy League's Brown Bears (0-3) come to Austin this weekend for a four-game set against the #5/11 Longhorns (8-4). Brown enters the weekend winless, but they showed up in Nashville and gave #3 Vanderbilt a couple of tough games last weekend. Considering Brown was playing its first 3 games of the season while Vandy was already 8-1 coming in, the Bears' 3-1, 6-5, and 6-3 losses are nothing to be ashamed of.

The first thing you need to know about Brown is that their sometime left fielder unquestionably wins the Name of the Year award so far. Wes Van Boom went 3-for-4 in his two starts against Vandy, living up to his totally awesome moniker. The Bears' leading hitter among guys who started all three contests is designated hitter Mike DiBiase, who has started the season 4-for-10. Three Bears hitters, including cleanup hitter and first baseman Pete Greskoff, went hitless in Nashville.

The Brown pitching staff did a reasonable job of holding down a powerful Vandy lineup. The Bears' third starter, Lucas Whitehill, lost control of his seven-inning doubleheader nightcap late, giving up six runs (all earned) on nine hits in 5.1 innings. However, Whitehill is a highly regarded freshman who can be forgiven for a tough outing against one of the nation's best teams in his first-ever college start. Brown's second starter, sophomore Kevin Carlow, also had something of a tough time but managed to avoid any huge innings from Vanderbilt. He gave up five runs on eight hits in 5.2 innings, though two of those runs were unearned. Friday starter Matt Kimball, however, was masterful. In seven complete frames, the senior from Nashville allowed the Commodores only one run on six scattered hits and left the game tied 1-1. Unfortunately for Brown, Vanderbilt's Sonny Gray was downright virtuosic in a complete game three-hitter.

For Texas, the big question will likely be how the bullpen holds up in a four-game set. While UTSA's game-tying rally on Tuesday was less a result of anything Stayton Thomas or Kendal Carrillo did than of Kevin Lusson's pair of errors, the bullpen remains an important area for growth on this team. In addition, it will be interesting to see how the offense performs against a quality pitcher in Kimball tonight. It's important for Jordan Etier to get his bat going, and we're hoping his dinger against the Roadrunners will start him on a hot streak. Paul Montalbano has also yet to get his season average above the Mendoza line, going a dismal 4-for-33 thus far. It goes without saying that, while Augieball doesn't require everyone up and down the lineup to be hitting over .300, you have to get guys on base for the approach to work.

You can watch all four games on Texas Sports for free.

Probable Pitching Matchups:

Friday, March 11, 2011 - 6 p.m. Central
Texas: RHP Taylor Jungmann (3-0, 1.01 ERA)
Brown: RHP Matthew Kimball (0-0, 1.29 ERA)

Saturday, March 12, 2011 - 12 p.m. Central
Texas: LHP Hoby Milner (1-0, 1.35 ERA)
Brown: RHP Kevin Carlow (0-1, 4.76 ERA)

Saturday, March 12, 2011 – 30 minutes following the first game
Texas: LHP Sam Stafford (2-0, 2.20 ERA)
Brown: RHP Lucas Whitehall (0-1, 10.12 ERA)

Sunday, March 13, 2011 - 12 p.m. Central
Texas: RHP Cole Green (0-2, 4.32 ERA)
Brown: TBA

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