For the first time in memory, and probably ever (sorry, we found it a difficult thing to research), the Texas Longhorns will play the Texas State Bobcats tonight in a game where Texas is not ranked and Texas State is. The Longhorns have won 14 straight against the Bobcats but the series has been highly entertaining, with Texas' three wins in 2011 coming by a combined score of 9-4. Trying to extend that streak to 15 tonight will be Parker French, who didn't get a start last weekend against Loyola Marymount because of the rain. He'll face TSU righty Louis Head, a junior transfer from Texas Tech who has yet to start a game this season.
The Longhorns come off a rain-shortened 1-1 weekend (with both games on Sunday) against visiting Loyola Marymount. Texas lost the first game by a score of 1-0 in classically frustrating manner. Starter Nathan Thornhill was absolutely brilliant, going 7.1 innings and holding the score at 0-0 on only five hits. Hoby Milner came into the game and got out of the 8th inning; he would take the loss after giving up a leadoff single to start the 9th and being replaced by French, who gave up the decisive RBI double. But the fact is, giving up a single run in nine innings to a team like Loyola should always mean victory. That's not to take away from LMU starter Colin Welmon, who had seven scoreless innings of his own and held Texas to three hits. But for goodness' sake, he held Texas to three hits! Welmon has a seaosn ERA of 3.65--not bad by any stretch, but it's not like one of the best pitchers in the country just came in to Austin and shut the Texas hitters down. A solid pitcher from a middle-of-the-road team absolutely dominated the Longhorns.
Texas is just a pathetic offensive team right now. The batting averages tell you all you need to know. Not only do the Longhorns have precisely zero players batting over .300 (the highest is Tim Maitland at .293), they only have five batting over .200! Read that again. Go ahead. Once more. That means, by definition, any lineup Augie puts out there will have four players who haven't even figured out how to surpass the Mendoza line. The decisions by Texas' top recruits to skip college and jump to the pros may simply have finally caught up with the program, as there is a limit to just how anemic an offense can be and still allow you to win games with pitching.
All that said, Texas did manage to put together a little rally to take the second game from LMU by a score of 3-1. Ricky Jacquez was about as good as Thornhill in this shortened affair, going five of the seven total innings, giving up no runs and only five hits with seven strikeouts. Corey Knebel got a two-inning save to bring his season total up to four--not bad for a season where Texas has won only six times thus far. The decisive inning was the bottom of the third, when Texas put across the only two runs they would need. Kevin Lusson started it with a single, followed by a sac bunt by Jacob Felts. After an unsurprising Jordan Etier strikeout, leadoff man Mark Payton drew a four-pitch walk that set up Texas' one offensive performer to take care of business. Tim Maitland delivered with a two-RBI triple, and the pitchers made it stand up.
Tonight's game is at 6 PM on the Longhorn Network. Hopefully the offense can find a way to get going against the boys from San Marcos ahead of this weekend's Big 12 opener against OU. Hook 'em!