Recap of how the Longhorns earned a ninth straight win, a look at Augie's decision making, the tip of the iceberg for Jordan Weymouth, the development of team chemistry, and some new uniforms after the jump...
Horns Pick Up Ninth Consecutive Win after Eighth Inning Comeback
The Texas State Bobcats (20-11) snatched an early four run lead after a three run shot to center in the second inning. The Longhorns (27-7) recovered in the eighth to score three runs off of a Montalbano triple for a final score of 6-5. Two Texas runs were generated by fielding errors with the remainder resulting from Moldenhauer, Keyes, and Walla hits. Chance Ruffin closed the final inning to earn his ninth save of the year. It wasn't particularly pretty but it was a win, Augie's comments attest to that, "I hope the pitchers take from this that even though the nation expects them to never give up a run that they get to come out here and pitch like any other pitcher in college and that includes giving up runs and when they do they have teammates that will support them and come from behind to win." This was Keifer Nuncio’s first win and Texas’s ninth consecutive.
The Greatest Asset
The Horns greatest asset might be the best pitching staff in the country or stellar defense but I've come to believe it is the one constant over two decades of assorted championships: Augie Garrido. Despite my somewhat regular criticisms, Augie has made the right moves time and time again. A large part of the responsibility for this year's success rests on his shoulders.
Friday night’s eleventh inning victory against Kansas was a coaching masterpiece. Chance Ruffin, statistically the best pitcher in the country, was replaced by relatively inexperienced Hoby Milner, who effectively closed the game. At the plate, Jordan Weymouth pinch-hit a triple to put himself in position to score the winning run in only his fifth career at bat. He surprisingly took the place of Moldenhauer, who was having himself an impressive night after scoring two runs and batting in another pair. Tim Maitland also succeeded when he got his chance despite only recording six plate appearances all season.
Few coaches have the courage to make the strategic decisions that were made on Friday night. Removing two successful starters for inexperienced underclassmen in the eleventh inning takes backbone. For all purposes, Augie is immune to pressure. He is the eye of the storm and it rubs off on his players who continue to scrap together wins in double-digit ballgames. "You have been swinging it well in batting practice so just go up there and get the first good pitch you see and take a hack." was all he needed to say to Maitland before his clutch hit. He instills a sense of calm as well as a sense of purpose. He could be considered lucky if he hasn't be as successful over such a long period of time. Garrido has the knowledge to know which player can contribute and the wisdom to know at what time. The unpredictability of the college game requires someone to pull the trigger at the right moment. This team has the potential to achieve greatness because its triggerman is Augie Garrido.
The Emergence of Jordan Weymouth
Jordan Weymouth’s biggest year won’t be this year and with a young infield it probably won’t be next year either. But in the opportunities that he has been given, the freshman has proved that his time will come. In the seven times he has stepped up to the plate, Jordan has a triple, a double, two walks, and three runs. His appearance in extra innings demonstrates that he has earned the respect of his coaches. The Arizonian, one of only two out-of-state players, is a logical replacement for sophomores Etier, Loy, and Lusson when they move on. This doesn't mean that he won't continue to see quality playing time as the season progresses.
Tangibles and Intangibles
My favorite seat in the Disch gives a vantage point just above our dugout which provides opportunities to witness team interactions. It’s clear that this team is developing chemistry that was not quite present in March. This intangible quality is evident in small moments such as Walla horsing with Jungman before he takes the field or a team effort to praise a disappointed Sam Stafford on his way back to the bench. Team cohesiveness does become tangible defensively in double plays and a lack of miscommunication. As the infield gains experience, the number of double plays has increased. Fielders are willing to take bigger risks when they are familiar with each other’s abilities and limitations. The difference maker in tonight’s game was a Texas State miscommunication that resulted in dropped flyball in the oufield. Mistakes like this with our team are rare, if they ever occur at all. An extended winning streak does wonders on even the most talented teams cohesiveness. These bonds should only develop and strength as the season progresses.
In case you didn’t notice, the team got refitted over the weekend. The sleeveless white jerseys and pinstriped pants have been replaced with solid white jerseys and pants with a single stripe. Combined with thirty-two new pairs of all white cleats, the new uniforms are simpler and classier than their predecessors. Out with the old and in with the new. The burnt orange jerseys are unchanged at this point. My theory is that the pinstripes were removed in an unsuccessful attempt to make Cohl Walla appear less skinny.
The Daily Texan had a great quote from Augie this morning: "As soon as you try too much, you fail in this game," Garrido said. "It’s a game for 12-year-olds. No matter how old you are, you go out and play like you’re 12 years old." This wisdom applies for us fans as well. This game was meant for kids, enjoy it like one.
The Longhorns have a home and away (and away) this weekend with A&M. The first game of three is at Disch-Falk at 6:05 on Friday.