Texas struggled in all three phases of the game on Sunday, managing just two runs on five hits while giving up five runs of which only two were earned thanks to two more errors by the infield. Taking the weekend as a whole, Texas fans should always be satisfied with a series win. If the Horns do this every weekend from now until the end of June they'll be national champs. But Texas cannot be happy with the offense's inability to breakthrough against Duke's Sunday pitching, and the difference between taking two of three every weekend and sweeping a series every now and then is the difference between hosting a regional and hosting a superregional.
A quick look at the good, bad and ugly of this weekend after the jump.
Our specific thoughts on the weekend, bulletized:
- Freshman Brooks Marlow has to be the star of the weekend, hitting two homers and playing solid defense all weekend. Marlow's big weekend makes things very interesting for Texas in a very good way. The Horns will get Jordan Etier back next weekend, and Marlow's hitting and defense at second could enable Augie to put the more reliable (both offensively and defensively) and experienced Etier at shortstop. Summers may be the future of the position, but both his offense and defense need work before he's able to adequately step into Brandon Loy's shoes. One positive for Summers was his ability to draw five walks for the weekend.
- We saw the good and bad of Tim Maitland in center this weekend and it's probably just a matter of time before he's replaced. Maitland was 3-6 with three runs in the Saturday doubleheader but 0-4 with three Ks on Sunday. Collin Shaw was the first freshman to get a look in the outfield, but his 0-4 on Sunday wasn't the greatest offensive output in the world. Tuesday's game may provide an opportunity for Taylor Stell.
- Erich Weiss wasn't great at the plate (1-7) but he showed why he's such an important cog to the offense by putting up a .400 OBP for the weekend.
- Mark Payton was on the other end of the offensive spectrum, going 5-11 for the weekend with a pair of doubles, three walks, no strikeouts and just barely missing a home run Saturday night. If Payton can continue to play like this from the leadoff spot...it'll be a good thing.
- On the mound, Texas got great work from freshmen Ricky Jacquez, Parker French and Dillon Peters. Sophomore Corey Knebel was his old dominant self and fellow Sophomore Nathan Thornhill outdueled an All-American. The Horns may not have a Taylor Jungmann to go 8 innings on every Friday night, but they have an incredibly deep bench of arms that may make not having a Jungmann a moot point.
- Texas hit three homers over the weekend and just missed another when the strong wind pushed a long shot by Payton just foul. Considering Texas hit just 17 all season, that's definitely a positive sign. For the record, Marlow's two home runs on Saturday would tie him for third on the 2011 Longhorns baseball team.
- This is as young a Texas team as we can recall. Elite teams typically have a set of soon-to-be-drafted juniors that provide high levels of production. A year ago Texas had Jungmann, Loy and Stafford. This year, they've got no juniors with both experience and elite talent. Other than Lusson and Etier, the Horns lack any real experienced upperclassmen. Next year the Horns will have Knebel, Weiss, Milner and Payton as a backbone, but Texas will need its talented freshmen and sophomores to step up in order to make a run at Omaha. Finding exactly which freshmen are the freshmen is Augie's challenge and it may take some time.
The Horns return to action on Tuesday against UT Arlington. After that Texas will travel to Palo Alto for the annual tilt with #4 Stanford. Depressing as it may be, Texas may be lucky to take one of three games from a Cardinal team that just walloped #11 Vanderbilt 8-3, 9-5 and 18-5.