As noted in the game preview, whether Texas won or lost to UT Arlington is fairly trivial. What's far more important, however, is observing how the Horns are performing in the thousand or so little things that they most get better at in order to have a prayer at an Omaha run. Consider tonight's 7-5 loss to UTA a syllabus for the rest of the season on what Texas must work on between now and June.
- Defense: The Horns are 2-2 on the year despite having given up just seven earned runs in four games. That's nearly a 1:1 error to ER ratio for those keeping track at home. Tonight it was Erich Weiss causing the errors (one came on a rough throw that was assigned to Lusson) which opened the door to four unearned runs for the Mavericks. Christian Summers hasn't been great at SS and the prospect of Etier taking over there may help the Horns, but it doesn't solve the defensive problems at 1B and 3B. The outfield has been good defensively so far, so that's good.
- Baserunning: Texas managed a fairly solid 13 baserunners tonight but only five of them came around to score. The most egregious error of the night, however, came on the base paths with Jacob Felts getting gunned trying to go from first to third with nobody out on a ninth inning single. Considering the next two hitters walked, having 1st and 2nd and no outs would've been far preferable to a man on and a man out. It's a little thing but it's the type of mistake young teams make and may have been the difference tonight in an 8-7 win versus a 7-5 loss.
- Offense: On the happy side, it's hard to find anything wrong with the start to Mark Payton's season. Payton was 2-2 tonight with a triple, an RBI and three walks. If Weiss ever comes around again the Horns may have a real nice top of the lineup for the next two years.
- Pitching: Texas continues to show a depth of talented young arms that's about as good in terms of quantity and quality of any club in college baseball. Texas may not have a true ace this season but it has any number of pitchers who can come in and compete, a real positive in today's college baseball.
- Intangibles: Both Austin Dicharry and Alex Silvers played tonight. Considering the very different struggles both players have had throughout their Texas careers, any night they get on the diamond has to be considered a good night.
So the Horns head to Palo Alto with a .500 record and a very real chance of being swept by the #2 Cardinal. Things don't get any easier the next weekend with #5 Rice and #4 Arkansas on the docket at the Houston classic and a 5-6 record three weekends into the season may not be so bad. This is a Texas team for whom the payoff may not come until 2013, but the hope must remain that these early season struggles will lead to better outcomes down the road.