Perhaps Taylor Jungmann has hit the wall after pitching an absurd 141 innings (the most in the NCAA) over the course of the 2011 season or maybe there's another reason. But whatever the cause, Taylor Jungmann has not been the same incredible pitcher over his last three outings as he was throughout the entire regular season. On Saturday, Jungmann was staked to a 3-0 lead after three Texas at-bats, and no Texas fan could be blamed for thinking the Horns were ideally positioned for the winner's bracket. Then Jungmann's control problems started, walking the first two Florida hitters in the bottom half of the third and enabling Florida to chip away at and ultimately overcome the Texas advantage.
In the regular season and Big 12 tournament, Jungmann pitched 119.1 innings. He struck out 118 and walked/hit only 40 hitters during that time, good for an 8.6 K/9 and 2.55 walks/9. During 17.1 innings of postseason play, Jungmann gave up 10 free passes while striking out only 10, a 5.26-per-9 average for both. One's a point, two's a trend, three's a pattern. Texas's workhorse for two straight seasons simply hasn't been over the last three starts. If he were getting squeezed by the umps, we two homers would cry foul; but Jungmann was nowhere near the strike zone on Saturday.
You know how the game went: Texas pitchers were given a 3-0 lead but Florida took advantage of about a million walks and a HBP. Five of Florida's runs came from baserunners who got aboard via four balls and Texas got a fortuitous non-HR call that would have given Florida an 8-4 lead. It was still 7-1 after that, though, and Florida tacked on another one in the eighth. Credit the Gators, who took advantage of the opportunities Texas gave them with timely hits. Three of Florida's first four hits were soul-crushing doubles. We'll give full credit to Florida's pitchers, for not giving Texas any free passes, and hitters for making Texas pay dearly for free baserunners.
At the end of the day, a team built like Texas--on pitching, defense, and small ball--simply has an extremely small margin of error. The ace running into control problems is a disaster that's hard to overcome, and Texas isn't going to win very many in which they give up five or more runs.
Moving on, Texas baseball is 8-1 this postseason when facing elimination and the Horns need four straight wins to advance. The Horns will have a day of rest between games, so Jungmann could pitch again if the Horns win two more games. If not, it's a crying shame that such a brilliant pitching career ends with an 0-3 NCAA tournament.
Texas returns to action on Monday at 1 PM versus North Carolina with Cole Green on the hill. A win there would give Texas a crack at the Vanderbilt-Florida loser, and a win in that one would put the Longhorns in the position of having to beat the Vandy-UF winner twice to play for the title. It'll be tough, but Texas has the pitching depth to make it possible and two of the last five champions have dropped their first game.