We know what you're thinking: with all this baseball going on, how can I pay attention to any basketball? We had that conundrum too: whether to use our computer to watch the most entertaining sports weekend of the year or a pseudo-meaningless early season conference game. If you're like us, you probably regret choosing the latter.
Texas travelled to Lubbock for an Easter-forced Thursday through Saturday series. The Horns took the first game 22-6, dropped the second 7-5, and took the third 4-3. We said it last week and we'll say it again every time it's true...while we'd love to see a sweep, we'll be satisfied every conference series that the Horns are able to win. There is certainly no shame in going into Lubbock and taking 2 of 3 from an above average Texas Tech squad. Sometimes you need to win a game when the other guys have the tying run on second and two outs in the bottom of the 9th. We think Texas will benefit greatly from this weekend.
This series held many of the same themes we've been harping on all season:
- Pitchers galore (the bad). For the second straight weekend Austin Wood didn't last 3 innings as the Friday starter. Kenn Kasparek lasted 5 before falling apart, and our favorite freshmen bullpen sensations Chance Ruffin and Stayton Thomas couldn't find the plate.
- Pitchers galore (the good). Sunday (on Saturday) starter Riley Boening continued to pitch well in his fourth start of the season, going 6.1 innings and giving up only 2 runs. Keith Shinaberry pitched all three days, proving himself to be an essential member of the bullpen: that guy that can come in and be relied upon to get an out or two every time. Finally, Brandon Workman was fantastic from the 'pen, pitching 5.1 innings on Thursday and getting the final three outs on Saturday. Normally we'd be concerned about the lack of effective starting pitching, but with such a young and deep bullpen, we feel Augie has a chance to develop the starting pitching before it's needed in the postseason.
- Offensive potential. Texas continues to show an ability to put up runs. The Horns scored 22 runs on Thursday, setting a new team record for runs in a Big XII game. There was a time when we were really worried about this team's power potential, but they're now averaging a HR every 42 at bats (they were at 1 per 100 ABs). Not bad.
- Improving defense. Texas had two errors on Thursday, but none the rest of the series. The Horns have had only four errors in the last seven games. What was once a major concern is now only a moderate concern. Woo hoo!
- How old is Michael Torres? See the picture below, but we're pretty sure Michael Torres has been replaced by a 90 year old man.
Pitcher of the series: Riley Boening. Texas needed a big Sunday start in the worst kind of way and Beoning brought it. Boening went 6.1 innings, scattering 8 hits and giving up only 2 runs.
Hitter of the series: Michael Torres. The only Horn to get a hit in every game, Torres went 5 for 6 on Thursday with 3 runs and 5 RBI. In a weekend where Texas scored 31 runs, the story really wasn't the offense, it was the ups and downs of the pitching.
Kiddie Corpsman of the series: Brandon Workman. The Horns would have won Thursday night without a great pitching effort, but Workman's 5.1 innings (1 run, 3 hits, 6 Ks) kept it 22-6 rather than something like 22-14. He could have very easily been the pitcher of the series for coming on in the bottom of the 9th on Saturday and getting the final three outs for the save, but we'll stick him here.
Next Up: The Horns get a rare break, facing Oral Roberts on Monday before going up against Nebraska the following weekend in Austin. After dropping two of three to Stanford to open the season, Nebraska has won 15 of its last 16 (although six of those came against Northern Colorado, South Dakota and Nebraska-Kearney).