Photo courtesy Tim Irby
It's a shame that the state of Longhorns sports has come to a place where "moral victory" feels like a real thing, but Texas' sweep at the hands of the Stanford Cardinal last weekend showed tremendous improvement over this point in 2012.
The Texas baseball team returns home from California tonight for a midweek contest against UT-Pan Am to begin an eight-game homestand, and in the process will attempt to break a four-game losing streak. But in the last three of those losses--all at the hands of Stanford at Sunken Diamond--the Longhorns showed how much further along they are today than they were a year ago. An early-season sweep at the hands of an elite opponent is no fun, but it's not necessarily a harbinger of a failed season. Just ask the 2004 Cal State Fullerton Titans, who looked outclassed by the Longhorns in a pair of March contests at Disch-Falk and then proceeded to crush Texas' dreams with a 2-0 national championship series win in Omaha.
Sunday's loss was particularly brutal for the Longhorns, although it is clear the better team won. Although the Texas pitching and defense kept the game close and put the team in position to sneak out of Palo Alto with a victory, the fact is Stanford out-hit Texas to the tune of 10-2. The Longhorns' only run in the 2-1 loss did not involve either of those two hits--three walks and an RBI groundout did the trick.
If you look only at the offense, then it would be difficult to pull much in the way of positive takeaways from the trip out west. Texas managed only three runs on the entire weekend, and 13 hits in three games. Considering eight of those hits came in Saturday's contest, the team was simply abysmal at the plate for most of the weekend. But Stanford boasts one of the nation's finest pitching staffs; in fact, Stanford offers a great insight into what Texas would look like if they could, you know...hit.
Still, unlike the 2012 series in which each game was more embarrassing than the last, Texas remained competitive--for the most part--throughout the series. Sunday's walk-off loss was unfortunate, but if you had offered us a walk-off loss to Stanford after last season's 7-2, 6-2, and 15-1 beatings, we'd have taken it. Granted, Saturday's game was also 7-2, but Texas did manage eight hits and actually hit into a triple play in the first inning with the bases loaded. A triple play. Which never happens. Sure, it was bad baserunning, but still--those things are freakish whenever they happen. So we'll give them at least a small pass on that one.
Today's game starts at 4:30, due to television timing issues related to the women's basketball team's season finale against West Virginia. Coverage is on LHN, for those lucky enough to have it. Hook 'em!