Texas baseball rebounded from Saturday's rough loss on Sunday, beating Stanford 4-2 and taking the series two games to one. The Horns improved to a very respectable 7-4 by using a familiar formula: superior starting pitching, generally good defense, and just enough offense to bring home a win. On Sunday it was Sam Stafford going 5.1 IP, giving up only 3 hits and 2 walks while striking out 7. Stafford's style will prevent him from eating up a ton of innings on Sundays
Offensively, Cohl Walla was only 1-4 but he scored two runs on wild pitches. Brandon Loy went 2-4 and Jordan Etier capped off a strong weekend going 0-1 with 2 walks and an RBI sac bunt. It wasn't beautiful, but Texas generally did a nice job of scoring when it had opportunities.
Some thoughts on a strong weekend and general observations on the season so far after the jump.
- By far the biggest takeaway from the weekend is the emergence of Corey Knebel as the Texas closer. On Friday it was Knebel picking up his first career save in a 4-3 win. On Sunday the freshman picked up his second save throwing 2 innings, giving up three weak singles and striking out three. That Augie chose Knebel to pitch on both Friday and Sunday in critical situations highlights the skipper's growing trust in the youngster. If Knebel can be an effective closer then Texas has one less thing to worry about going forward.
- This isn't the first time we've said this, but Sam Stafford's style will prevent him from eating up a ton of innings on Sundays this season. Unlike a year ago when Jungmann, Green and Workman were all a threat to pitch complete games each weekend, Texas will probably consistently need a string of relievers to finish out series finales. In other words, today's game against Stanford is likely to be the rule rather than the exception of what we will see each Sunday.
- Cole Green now has a strong outing and two very weak outings on the year. The defense certainly let Green down on Saturday, but he was by no means sharp. It certainly isn't panic time yet, but if Green doesn't find last season's form relatively soon it may quickly become Hoby Milner time on Saturdays. Milner as a potential weekend starter is a luxury most teams don't have, and relegating Green to the long reliever's role could give him time to regroup before a postseason run where Texas may need four starters.
- Speaking of which, this Tuesday's game against UTSA will be a telling affair. Does Augie try to get as many young arms an inning as he did two weeks ago, or does he give someone like Josh Urban extended time to develop into another potential starter? Kenn Kasperek, Austin Dicharry, Taylor Jungmann and Hoby Milner are four pitchers that come to mind whose big pitching roles in June were predicated on strong midweek performances in March and April.
- Jordan Etier hit .333 on the weekend and had the series's biggest hit on Friday. We've been harsh on him this year so it's only fair to give him some props after a great series.
- Shepherd, Lusson and Etier drew six walks on Sunday, that was nice.
- Paul Montalbano went 0-4 on Sunday and is now hitting .121. We like his ability to draw walks, but that average is too awful to hit leadoff for long. Meanwhile, Jonathan Walsh went 3-6 on the weekend and we hope he is slowly returning to being an everyday player.
- Finally, Stayton Thomas struggled again as well on Sunday, bringing his ERA to 9.00. Although bullpen roles are still somewhat fluid, Texas will probably count on McKirahan, Carillo, Nuncio and Knebel until more solid young arms are identified. We like Thomas' potential to contribute and expect he'll continue to be a part of the reliever rotation as well. While we've never believed in midweek games as important barometers (unless playing a rival like Rice), the next few midweek games will help sort out some of the bullpen mess. Unless they all suck, then we're in the same boat as we are today.
- Knebel's nickname: Cannibal? (h/t Hornfans)
Texas takes on UTSA on Tuesday at 6 PM at UFCUDFF before taking on 0-3 Brown next weekend.