A Senior Salute to Austin Dicharry

via grfx.cstv.com

Everybody will remember Austin Wood's 169 pitches, 14 strikeouts and 13 innings pitched (12.1 hitless) against Boston College on May 31st, 2009. Most will remember Connor Rowe scoring on a single through the right side in the 25th inning to break the 2-2 tie and give the Horns an incredible 3-2 win. It's easier to forget though just how magnificent Austin Dicharry was that night. Dicharry, as a freshman, pitched the game's final 5.2 innings, giving up just one hit and one walk to earn the win once the Horns grabbed the lead.

At the time Dicharry was a stellar 8-2 as a freshman. He had an ERA under 2.50, opponents were hitting under .200 against him and the future seemed almost as bright for Dicharry as at was for any pitcher on a Texas pitching staff loaded with talent.

He would not earn another win for 1066 days. Nearly three full years.

Dicharry only threw 65 pitches against Boston College, but the seemingly unhittable freshman has been imminently hittable ever since. There are a lucky few players in any collegiate sport that have the opportunity to have their careers positively defined by what they do in just one night. Dicharry's role in the win over Boston College may have been lesser than Wood's, but he played a major part in giving us the first magical night in what was to become a postseason full of them.

We interviewed former Longhorn kicker Phil Dawson a few years back for the Eyes of Texas preview magazine. Dawson was talking about Hunter Lawrence's game winning field goal in the Big 12 Championship against Nebraska when he told us "(Lawrence) deserves a ton of recognition for that, and I hope Longhorn fans show him respect for the rest of his life for what he did that day."

In our opinion, Dicharry deserves the same.

Austin Wood's journey since the 25-inning game is fairly well documented. Wood struggled for the rest of the postseason, though in fairness most of the Texas bullpen struggled in Omaha that season. Wood's performance against Boston College got him drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the 5th round. Following two years of being mostly shut down, Wood is working his way through the Tigers system and is now pitching for Detroit's AAA ball club. Though he threw 104 fewer pitches than Wood, Dicharry's fate has more or less mirrored Wood's.

Back in the 2009 postseason, Dicharry gave up a hit to the only batter he faced against TCU. Dicharry pitched in the memorable 10-6 comeback victory over Arizona State but struggled in giving up a hit while walking four over 1.1 innings. Dicharry walked three more batters and gave up two hits over just one inning in the first game against LSU followed by another poor, short performance in the season ending finale against the Tigers.

2010 began with Dicharry expected to challenge for a starting spot in one of the nation's deepest pitching staffs. Texas featured a rotation with two future first rounders (Taylor Jungmann and Chance Ruffin), a future third rounder (Brandon Workman) and a future fourth rounder (Cole Green), but Dicharry earned the Sunday starter spot to begin the year. The then-sophomore was solid in a loss to New Mexico and pitched well again in a win over Stanford. Superior pitching by Brandon Workman and Cole Green, however, bumped Dicharry from the weekend rotation. He has not made a weekend start since.

Dicharry would make five starts and two relief appearances in 2010. His last meaningful appearance came in mid-March midweek loss to Rice in which Dicharry was banged around for four runs in 2.2 innings pitched. Dicharry would start a midweek game in mid-April but was mostly absent from the pitcher's mound for the rest of the season as his arm would shut down. Dicharry finished 2010 with opponents hitting .250 and an ERA that jumped to 3.62.

In early May of that year Augie Garrido accounted for Dicharry's absence as a case of shoulder tendinitis, telling Baseball America's Aaron Fitt:

"He's throwing now. He's not throwing off the mound yet, still in the part of rehab where he's taking it week by week. I would imagine he could be back. The hard thing would be to find a role for him. A person with tendinitis that's lost their release point, a little bit of rhythm, a little bit of timing, to try to put them in there in a relief role would be the hardest thing to do. It would be much better for him to start. We'll have to be careful with him because he's really a good pitcher."

But that was all Longhorn fans had to go with, a mysterious shoulder injury was sidelining a potentially important cog to the 2010 season. The Horns would fall to TCU that postseason but Dicharry wouldn't throw a pitch after mid-April.

Fans would see Dicharry once in 2011, a midweek start against UT-Pan American in which he would give up two runs and four hits while walking two in just one inning of work. And that was it. Who's to say what role the outing against Boston College played in Dicharry's injury problems, but after a promising freshman campaign and two years of being mostly shut down, Dicharry was suddenly a back-of-the-rotation senior.

Which is what makes last week's victory over Prairie View A&M so sweet. Ricky Jacquez was solid getting the midweek start, the Horns fell behind, found some offense and ended up cruising to a 5-2 win. Dicharry pitched a scoreless fifth inning which just happened to be the inning the Texas bats came alive. When Hoby Milner recorded the game's final out, Dicharry had his first victory in nearly three years.

Austin Dicharry's Longhorn career comes to a close in just a few weeks. He has had a nice bounce back year in 2012, posting a 1-1 record with a 2.25 ERA over 12 appearances (including a pair of starts). The innings haven't generally been the most meaningful and opponents are still getting hits at an unhealthy clip against him. But any Longhorn fan with a soul has to feel good about seeing Austin Dicharry pitch and get a win for the Horns in his senior year if only to remind us all of a young Longhorn's gutty outing in one of the most memorable nights in a college baseball postseason filled with them.

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