First, let me take nothing away from Dallas Baptist. The tiny school in Big D has turned itself into one of college baseball's consistent winners, a program truly to be reckoned with. But this is not a DBU blog; it's a Texas blog, so allow me to take the opportunity to explore the ramifications of what this weekend meant for the Longhorns.
It's true that Texas was a couple of breaks--or more accurately, a spectacular defensive play by Oregon State--away from sitting pretty right now with a winner's bracket game against Virginia Commonwealth's number two starter coming up tonight. But that doesn't change the fact that Augie Garrido's team, with more coveted recruits than just about anyone else in the Big 12, finished fifth in the league and needed an improbable run through the conference tournament to back into the NCAA Tournament as a three seed.
It doesn't change the fact that Texas' one great weekend in the last two months avoided a third year in the last four without an NCAA Tournament appearance. And it doesn't change the fact that, today, the University of Texas played an elimination game against a school called Dallas Baptist University--with its total undergraduate enrollment about half that of Rice, and its athletic history about one-tenth that of Rice--and was completely outclassed in every imaginable way.
The Patriots took the win by a final score of 8-1 at Homer Ballpark in front of a capacity crowd dressed mostly in orange. But the minority of red-and-blue clad DBU supporters had a tremendous number of opportunities to make noise, whereas the Texas crowd found literally zero opportunities to affect the atmosphere while the outcome was still in doubt. To be perfectly frank, Longhorns fans knew the game was over after two and a half innings, when DBU led 4-0 thanks to a four-run third and the Texas hitters were consistently looking silly against Patriot starter Cory Taylor.
There were two main reasons for the dominance. First was Taylor, who tossed a complete game three-hitter, saving the rest of DBU's arms for the three in a row they still need to win to take the regional. The second was Justin Wall, who went 3-for-3 and had six of DBU's eight RBI--including the three-run home run that basically put it out of reach at 4-0 in the third. It was more than Wall, of course: the Patriots teed off on Horns pitching to the tune of 16 base hits, a number that makes the almost-respectable final score look like a blessing.
In short, it was an unsurprisingly frustrating end to an unbelievably frustrating team. One year removed from nearly missing a national championship series appearance, and returning many of the key pieces from that squad Texas regressed in 2015 in every facet of the game. Given how touted most of the Texas players were coming out of high school, combined with the remarkable under-performance across the board, it's hard to be optimistic about the state of the program right now.
Augie Garrido and his staff displayed some very puzzling pitching staff management this season and has failed for years now to demonstrate the ability to develop the Longhorns as hitters. Although it appears settled that the coaches will be back for 2016, the question has to be asked: why, exactly?