In late February 1980, buried deep within a Soviet newspaper and hidden by stories of global Communist success and other Soviet propaganda, was a box score which read USA 4, USSR 3. This baseball recap is that box score.
First off, we'd like to welcome you all onto the bandwagon that is Texas baseball. We aren't happy you're here early either, but we're just going to have to make the best of a bad situation. Hopefully we'll be together through late June. This weekend Texas gave Nebraska its first conference loss and only the Huskers second lost in the last 22 games.
We have preached all season about the need for patience with this team because of the breadth and depth of the Kiddie Corps, but these are the times that test men's souls. After jumping ahead 4-0 through 3 innings on Friday, Nebraska scored 17 unanswered runs through top of the first on Sunday. Nebraska used 17 hits, 7 walks, and 3 Texas errors on Friday to win 14-4, then used a complete game two-hit gem from Thad Weber to beat Texas 2-0. The Longhorns (18-8, 5-4 Big XII) avoided the sweep on Sunday with a 12-3 win.
At 5-4 in conference play, an outright conference title may be out of reach, but Texas baseball does not play for conference crowns. A series win would've been huge, but it was not to be.
For this team to succeed in the postseason it needs to develop the youngsters over the course of the season. If Texas had lost this series in May we would despair, but for now it just confirms that this team is not there yet.
There were a few very encouraging signs to be found in this series. Kyle Russell had been 3 for his last 31, but (hopefully) broke out of his slump on Sunday by going 3-5. Texas had only one error the last two games (top 9 on Sunday with Texas up 12-3) and 4 for the entire series. And Riley Boening and Austin Wood pitched well, with Boening getting the offense and Wood getting no support. We aren't going to sugarcoat this series loss, even though we are thoroughly depressed by the basketball loss and Nebraska really did only outscore Texas by 3 for the entire series.
On to the series awards...
Hitter of the Series: Kyle Russell didn't light the world on fire. He still only has one HR on the season, and he was only 3-11 on the series. But Kyle's 3-hit Sunday performance was hopefully the return of 2007 Kyle Russell. Texas is a much better team when Russell is playing well, and those looking for big things to come should be very encouraged by Kyle's performance on Sunday.
Pitcher of the Series: With Riley Boening pitching much better of late, Augie appears to be turning to Cole Green for long relief. This weekend suggested great things to come for this role. Green went 2.2 innings in both of his outings, striking out five and giving up no runs. With Big Bird, Wood and Boening starting to be entrenched in the starting rotation, Cole Green may find himself in a critical relief position a lot later in the season.
Kiddie Corpsman of the Series: It wasn't the finest weekend for the Kiddie Corps. Cameron Rupp didn't play much, Tant Shepherd was the only Texas batter not to record a hit on Sunday, Cole Green has already been mentioned, and the Kiddie Corps relief staff struggled mightily in its only appearance on Friday (Thomas, Whitmer and Workman combined to go 4 IP, 11 hits, 7 runs). He didn't have a huge weekend, but Kevin Keyes did bat 1.000 for the series (2-2) and became the 34th player in Longhorn history to put a ball over the green monster in center field at UCFUDFF with his 2 run blast in the bottom of the 8th.
Next Up: Texas returns to action Tuesday night against Rice at UFCUDFF before getting Texas Southern Wednesday night. The Horns will then leave the state of Texas for the first time this year for a weekend series with Oklahoma in Norman.