Texas Longhorns: Texas baseball

AUSTIN, Texas -- In the wake of missing the NCAA Tournament for the first time in more than a decade, Texas’ Augie Garrido acknowledged changes would have to be made.

The baseball coach made what could be considered the biggest ones Wednesday. Garrido and Texas decided not to renew 23-year veteran assistant coach Tommy Harmon's contract.

“This has been the most difficult decision I have ever had to make,” Garrido said in a release.

Harmon, a former Texas catcher, had been the associate head coach. He was also widely acknowledged as a top recruiter for Texas.

“My three years as a player and 23 years as a coach are very important to me,” Harmon said. “I bleed orange and I wish the best for the student-athletes on the team.”

The issue for Texas is that it did not have enough athletes on the team. At least not enough athletes in the right positions. Almost no one in the infield was playing his natural position, except the catcher. That led to Texas being last in team fielding in the Big 12.

Someone had to be held accountable. That someone was Harmon.

In other baseball news, Texas had three players selected in the MLB Draft. Pitchers Hoby Milner went in the seventh to Philadelphia. Outfielder Jonathan Walsh went in the 11th round to the Los Angeles Angels. And pitcher Sam Stafford, who was injured in 2012, went to the Texas Rangers in the 13th round.

Texas also had six signees get drafted. Outfielder Courtney Hawkins was selected by the Chicago White Sox in the first round. In first compensatory round, the St. Louis Cardinals picked catcher Steve Bean and the Toronto Blue Jays nabbed right-handed pitcher Tyler Gonzales. In the second round, the Pittsburgh Pirates selected catcher Wyatt Mathisen and the Tampa Bay Rays chose infielder Spencer Edwards. Infielder Austin Dean was picked by the Miami Marlins in the fourth round.

The Longhorn Network looks back at the 2012 Texas baseball team.
AUSTIN, Texas -- Augie Garrido is giving himself one day to grieve.

It might not seem like enough time given that a 13-year baseball postseason run, which included two national championships, ended when Texas did not make the NCAA tournament Monday. But really when you look at what happened to Texas baseball and how much there is that needs to be fixed, it might seem like too much time. There is work to be done, make that a ton of work, and it needs to be done now.

That work starts Tuesday at 10:15 a.m. for a team that finished with a 30-22 record, its worst since 1998.

“You have to really do a thorough examination of what went wrong here, how it got into this position, how we got here,” the Texas baseball coach said. “This is a championship program. We can’t change that watermark. We are expected, and rightfully so, to live up to that. We have fallen way short.

“This is a time where you really dig into all of the details.”

There is plenty to dig into.

Texas, a team built to dominate the mound, finished with just four healthy pitchers, none of which were effective enough to help the Longhorns avoid losing eight of their last 11.

The infield was makeshift and as a result made errors in bunches. It’s never a good thing when a team that is second to last in the conference in offense also has the conference’s worst defense.

“When your best infielder is your catcher, that is a rough combination,” Garrido said.

It was a few other things -- immaturity and injuries being chief among them -- that had Garrido feeling as if he had been kicked in the gut when the tournament selections were announced.

“It’s borderline devastating,” he said. “When you have the habit of being included and then you are not, rejection is a b----. That’s what it feels like.”

The rejection is doubly hard when having to watch others take the trip to the postseason.

“There were teams that got in that we thought we might’ve beat out for that last spot,” sophomore Alex Silver said.

Houston Baptist and UT-Arlington were teams that were singled out by Garrido. But Garrido did not begrudge or really even dwell on those teams being included. Instead he more lamented his team’s inability to do what it had done so many times in the past -- play decent baseball when it mattered.

“I do think we had opportunities to avoid this and we failed on the playing field to support ourselves and avoid giving the committee a chance to leave us out of the tournament,” he said. “We have to take the responsibility to man up to that.”

Now, to a man, Texas has to figure out what went wrong and why it went wrong so it does not repeat the same mistakes again in the 2013 season.

“We have to find out what needs to be done to fix it and then act on that,” Garrido said. “That’s one of my main jobs is to be responsible for that. So I will.”

Longhorns ousted from Big 12 tourney

May, 24, 2012
OKLAHOMA CITY -- The Texas Longhorns were sent home from the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship with a 4-2 loss to the Kansas Jayhawks on Thursday afternoon at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark.

Kansas (22-33) jumped out to an early lead in the bottom of the first and the Longhorns were never able to make up the deficit. It marked the first time Texas was eliminated after two games since 2001. In 2010, Texas went 0-3 in pool play at the tournament.

Tucker Tharp drew a walk to start the home half of the first. Kevin Kuntz bounced a bunt back to the pitcher’s mound in an attempt to move Tharp to second. Longhorns’ starting pitcher John Curtiss elected to go to second with his throw, but it was late giving Kansas a pair of base runners. Jason Stanfield placed a perfect bunt down the third base line for a single and Tharp scored when Erich Weiss’ throw to first on the play sailed wide of the bag. Kuntz also moved to third on the error allowing Zac Elgie to knock him in with a grounder to short, giving Kansas a 2-0 lead. The Jayhawks lead grew to 3-0 when Chris Manship doubled to the gap in left centerfield.

The Longhorns got a run on the board in the top of the third inning. Mark Payton led off the inning with a wall-banger to left field for a double and scored when Erich Weiss bounced a single up the middle, cutting the deficit to 3-1.

The Jayhawks added an insurance run in the fifth when Stanfield singled through the right side of the infield for a two-out RBI single, giving Kansas a 4-1 lead.

Texas (30-22) mounted a late rally but it came up short. With one out, Taylor Stell drew a five-pitch walk and Jordan Etier followed with a single through the right side of the infield. A wild pitch moved both runners into scoring position. Stell scored when Kansas’ first baseman made an error on a ground ball by Kevin Lusson, but Lusson was thrown out at second for the second out of the inning. With Kansas leading 4-2, Brooks Marlow drew a walk to bring the go-ahead run to the plate, but Payton struck out swinging to end the game.

In four of the first six innings, the Longhorns got a runner to third base but were unable to drive them in and Texas ended the game with the tying run on first base.

Wes Benjamin (5-7) earned the win for Kansas. He allowed one run on five hits and three walks while striking out two over 6.0 innings. Robert Kahana earned his second save of the season. He surrendered one run on one hit and two walks while striking out two over 3.0 innings.

Curtiss (2-3) took the loss for Texas. He yielded four runs on five hits and one walk while striking out five over 6.2 innings. Hoby Milner worked the last 1.1 innings retiring all four batters he faced, including two strikeouts.

Manship led all hitters at the plate going 2-for-3 with one double, one triple and one RBI. Stanfield went 2-for-4 with one run and one RBI.

Texas falls to Mizzou to open Big 12 tourney

May, 24, 2012
OKLAHOMA CITY -- The Texas Longhorns allowed one run in the third inning and four in the fourth and went on to fall to the Missouri Tigers on the opening day of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Baseball Championship at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark on Wednesday.

With the loss, Texas (30-21) faces an elimination game on Thursday afternoon against the Kansas Jayhawks.

Missouri (29-26) got started in the third when Blake Brown doubled to left center field to start the frame and moved to third with a groundout to second base by Ben Turner. Conner Mach staked the Tigers to a 1-0 lead with a double down the left field line, driving in Brown.

The Tigers added four more runs in the fourth inning. Andreas Plackis singled up the middle to start the inning and moved to second with a sacrifice bunt by Scott Sommerfeld. Dillon Everett singled to left field to put runners on the corners. Eric Garcia pushed the lead to 2-0 with a single through the left side of the infield. Brown hit a two-run double to the warning track in left center field to plate two runs, giving Missouri a 4-0 lead. Brown advanced to on the throw home on his two-bagger and scored on a wild pitch to inflate the Tigers’ cushion to 5-0.

Corey Knebel (4-5) allowed five runs on nine hits and two walks to take the loss. Knebel struck out just one over 4.1 innings.

Rob Zastryzny (5-5) and Dusty Ross combined on the shutout for Missouri. Zastryzny scattered five hits and recorded three strikeouts in 8.1 innings to earn the win. Ross retired both batters he faced to close out the game.

Weiss led Texas’ offense, going 2-for-4 with one double.

Brown powered Missouri’s offense going 2-for-4 with two doubles, two runs and two RBI. Mach also had two doubles on the evening, hitting 2-for-4 with one RBI. Turner added a pair of hits to round out Tigers with multiple hits on the day.
AUSTIN, Texas -- Corey Knebel wants to step up.

On the field he has done just that. The Texas sophomore has gone from the team’s top closer to the team’s top starter. But it’s off the field where he feels he must make more of an impact. Knebel wants to be a leader on a team that is void of such a presence on its roster.

Corey Knebel
Brendan Maloney/US PresswireCorey Knebel has been one of the few reliable pitchers for Texas.
“I have tried,” he said. “I kind of look at myself as a leader on the field. I’ve tried to put it together off the field but it is little different for me because I’m a really happy guy and it’s hard for people to take me seriously and it is hard for me to get angry.”

But the temperature is rising. Not just in Knebal but for the whole Texas team. The Longhorns, considering the standards set by previous UT teams, are underachieving. They are 30-20, on the bubble of the NCAA tournament and could realistically exit the Big 12 Tournament very early. That is unless someone steps up, closes the doors and has the necessary meeting Knebel thinks they need.

“That is definitely going to have to happen,” he said. “[Coach Augie Garrido] is there to help us out but we need to work together as a team for that.”

And there is no time like the present for that work to begin. Texas starts its climb toward respectability and the NCAA Tournament with a game against sixth-seeded Missouri Wednesday at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City.

Normally the first round game would be slightly ho-hum especially when considering Missouri (28-26, 10-14) only has 10 Big 12 wins. But two of those came against Texas. That was back when Texas had starting pitcher Parker French as well. Now Texas just has Knebel and a patchwork staff.

Knebel, who has the arm and talent to go seven innings comfortably, is scheduled to get the start.

“If you are looking for a Friday night guy there he is,” Garrido said. “But then you have to have somebody to close is the problem.”

Make that one of the problems. There is still the matter of coming up with a second day starter. Right now Texas is still working that out.

The winner of the Texas-Missouri game will play the winner of Kansas-Texas A&M in the winner’s bracket. The loser will be in an elimination game against either the Jayhawks or Aggies.

The conventional thinking is Texas needs at least one more win to cement its place in the NCAA Tournament. The 2-1 win over Baylor Saturday probably got the Longhorns in the postseason door. But one more win certainly wouldn’t hurt. That’s why Knebel is so concerned about this team putting all aspects of the game together at the right time.

“I feel if we can come together more we can do it,” he said. “Right now we are still working on coming together and we definitely need to.”

Baseball bracketology: Conference tourneys

May, 21, 2012
Texas BaseballAP Photo/Andrew WoolleyTBD by editorial

Conference baseball tournaments start up this week. Texas is the No. 3 seed in the Big 12 tournament and will face No. 6 seed Missouri Wednesday. The Longhorns find themselves just barely on the right side of the NCAA tournament bubble.

As Jeremy Mills writes, a few wins in Oklahoma City ought to secure UT's spot:

Big 12 (Oklahoma City, May 23-27): Baylor lost four of its last six conference games after starting 18-0 in Big 12 play, but is still a slam dunk as a national seed. Texas A&M is a lock to host, and a conference tournament title could get it into the national seed discussion. Oklahoma's late surge, especially the sweep against Baylor, has the Sooners pretty safely off the bubble. Texas is an interesting case after finishing third in the conference but with a weaker RPI than the Sooners. The Longhorns should be in, but a couple of wins in Oklahoma City would make it easier to sleep.

As for how the bracket looks at this point with Longhorns finishing the regular season with a 30-20 record, not much has changed since last week.

The Longhorns are still slated for a spot in the Houston Regional with Rice, Cornell and Southeastern Louisiana.

Check out the full bracket.

Texas No. 3 seed in Big 12 tourney

May, 20, 2012
AUSTIN, Texas -- The Texas Longhorns will be the No. 3 seed when the Big 12 opens at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City on Wednesday, May 23.

The Longhorns will face No. 6-seed Missouri in a 7:30 p.m. game. The Longhorns will play either No. 2-seed Texas A&M or No. 7-seed Kansas on Thursday, May 26 in an elimination game at 12:30 pm or a winners’ bracket game at 7:30 pm.

In the regular season matchup, Texas dropped two of the three games against Missouri in Columbia.

The tournament will be played under a two-division, double-elimination format where the eight teams with the best league records (based on winning percentage) in regular season competition qualify for the event.

The Longhorns will be looking for their fifth tournament title, having last won in 2009.

2012 Phillips 66 Big 12 Baseball Championship Schedule
Wednesday, May 23
Game 1 No. 4 Oklahoma vs. No. 5 Oklahoma State 9:00 a.m.
Game 2 No. 1 Baylor vs. No. 8 Kansas State 12:30 p.m.
Game 3 No. 2 Texas A&M vs. No. 7 Kansas 4:00 p.m.
Game 4 No. 3 Texas vs. No. 6 Missouri 7:30 p.m.

Thursday, May 24
Game 5 Game 1 Loser vs. Game 2 Loser 9:00 a.m.
Game 6 Game 3 Loser vs. Game 4 Loser 12:30 p.m.
Game 7 Game 1 Winner vs. Game 2 Winner 4:00 p.m.
Game 8 Game 3 Winner vs. Game 4 Winner 7:30 p.m.

Friday, May 25
Game 9 Game 7 Loser vs. Game 5 Winner 3:15 p.m.
Game 10 Game 8 Loser vs. Game 6 Winner 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, May 26
Game 11 Game 7 Winner vs. Game 9 Winner 9:00 a.m.
Game 12 Game 8 Winner vs. Game 10 Winner 12:30 p.m.
Game 13* If necessary Game 7 Winner vs. Game 11 Winner 4:00 p.m.
Game 14** If necessary Game 8 Winner vs. Game 12 Winner 7:30 p.m.***

Sunday, May 27
Game 15 Championship Game 1:00 p.m.
*Game 13 will be necessary if the winner of Game 9 also wins Game 11
**Game 14 will be necessary if the winner of Game 10 also wins Game 12
***If Game 13 is unnecessary, Game 14 will be played at 4 p.m. rather than at 7:30 p.m.

AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas salvaged a game against Baylor.

Just like it salvaged a game against Texas A&M. Ditto for the Missouri series.

Now, with regular season over and the NCAA selections looming, everyone is left to wonder if the Longhorns can salvage their season.

“I would feel more comfortable if we had 40 wins,” Texas coach Augie Garrido said. “Normally we are right around the 40-win mark and I’m pretty comfortable with that.”

Instead Texas is stuck on 30 wins with 20 losses. Maybe that’s enough. It has been in the past. Baylor made the tournament with a 29-26 record last season. The Big 12 has averaged six teams in the postseason over the past eight years. Texas is currently third in the Big 12 standings.
Hoby Milner
Brace Hemmelgarn/US PresswireHoby Milner salvaged the Baylor series for Texas by picking up the win in Saturday's game.

So there is an argument to be made for the Longhorns. But history and logic are typically not factors in decisions made by the selection committee.

“It really goes all over the place,” Garrido said. “It’s such a complex chore for the selection committee and there are so many things they’re looking at back and over and around. The truth of the matter is the selection committee gets in that room and they have so many choices to make and so many different things to consider. It’s impossible to be consistent.”

That line could sum up Texas as well. This season it has been impossible for the Longhorns to be consistent.

It started in the fall with starting infielder Jordan Etier being arrested for evading arrest and marijuana. He was suspended from the team only to be reinstated Jan. 18 just prior to the season.

From there the season started to go up in smoke.

Cohl Walla, the starting center fielder, went down with an ACL tear. Starting pitcher Sam Stafford tore up his shoulder and was gone.

Parker French suffered a stress fracture in his elbow on his first Friday start at Missouri. Freshman Ricky Jacquez was booted from the team for disciplinary reasons. And one-time Friday starter Nathan Thornhill has been relegated to the bullpen.

“Now with the injuries happening, it’s really kind of starting to fall apart,” pitcher Corey Knebel said. “But we’ve got to pick it up and come back together.”

The issue is the pieces are scattered all over the field. That has left Texas scratching its head, trying to scratch out wins and searching for a word that best describes this team.

“Immaturity is a good word, yeah,” Garrido said.

That was an especially an apt description Friday as Garrido stared across the diamond at No. 7 Baylor.

“You see a team that’s got it under control,” the Texas coach said. “They’ve got their attitude in the right place. They’ve got their teamwork in the right place. And they’ve played together for two years.”

There are nights when Texas looks as if it has not played together for two weeks.

Take Texas Tech when three errors in one inning cost Corey Knebel the win. Or the last week of April when Etier had five errors in two games and Erich Weiss another three in a game against Texas A&M. Of course, that same series against the Aggies, Texas hit five batters in a game.

All that adds up to a team going from winning 25 straight Big 12 series to losing three in a row.

The Longhorns hadn’t lost three straight conference series since 1998. That also happens to be the last year Texas didn’t make it to the postseason, a fate the Longhorns are toying with as they head into this week’s Big 12 tournament in Oklahoma City.

Longhorns face key weekend series

May, 17, 2012
The Longhorns are teetering on the College World Series bubble. Texas dropped two of its three games against Missouri last weekend and have slipped in the Big 12 standings. Enter No. 4 Baylor.

ESPN.com's Eric Sorenson previews the weekend's action in college baseball. Here is his take on the Baylor-Texas series starting Thursday at Disch-Falk Field:

4. No. 4 Baylor (40-11, 18-3 Big 12, No. 4 RPI) at Texas (29-18, 13-8 Big 12, No. 50 RPI)

Disch-Falk Field, Austin & Baylor Ballpark, Waco, Texas

This is one of those rare seasons when the Longhorns are perched precariously on the wrong side of the NCAA tournament bubble. And believe it or not, if the Bears do the fold-the-tents trick again, as they did at Oklahoma last weekend, their national seed status could get shaky. So both teams really need this. The Bears have dipped to 11-8 in road games and need to show their experience this weekend. They'll face a UT staff that has seen some attrition because of injuries.

Check out the full weekend notebook.

Baseball bracketology update

May, 16, 2012
ESPN.com's college baseball experts Jeremy Mills looks at the latest standings and projects where things will shake out with conference tournaments about to start.

The SEC is cleaning up and could end up with four national seeds. In the Big 12, Baylor is poised for a national seed, but as Mills writes, the Bears have the weakest resume for a national seed.

Baylor gets Texas next. The Longhorns are still holding on and are currently slotted to play in a Houston Regional with Rice, Cornell and Dallas Baptist.

Check out the full bracket here.

Baseball bracketology update

May, 8, 2012
After a weekend where Texas dropped two of three to Missouri, the Longhorns fell into a three-way tie for second place in the Big 12.

The losses didn't affect the Longhorns placement much in the College World Series bracket, according to ESPN.com's Jeremy Mills.

Mills has Texas slated to play in a Houston Regional with Rice, TCU and Stony Brook. Mills has fellow Big 12 teams Baylor and Texas A&M hosting regionals.

Take a look at the rest of the bracket here.

Board Meeting: May 2, 2012 

May, 2, 2012
Welcome to your daily Board Meeting. Each evening we’ll update you on the day’s hottest topics on the HornsNation forum.

1. Bergeron vs. Brown : Sean Adams talked today about the hype surrounding the RB position at Texas. It’s hard not to when the Longhorns will have two running backs who were arguably the best at their position their respect recruiting classes. And neither could be the starter.

Joe Bergeron definitely looked better this spring and might be more durable than Malcolm Brown. The hype machine follows Johnathan Gray who has yet to have collegiate carry.

Chat wrap: DB debate, football improves

May, 2, 2012
HornsNation's William Wilkerson stopped by SportsNation to chat about the NFL draft, Texas football and of course some recruiting updates.

Here are some of the highlights:

Spence (Dallas)

How soon do you see Davis committing? Are our chances with Wilson good since we are in final two (Oregon and Texas)? Been too long since a committ. I am going crazy... I hate offseason.

William Wilkerson

Been a little slow on the recruiting front, eh? I know he is tied up with track right now; qualified for the state meet. So i definitely don't see it happening before that is over. I do, however, presume he'll make his decision before next season starts. I think Texas' chances are decent with Wilson simply because of the proximity to home. I think he'd already be committed to Oregon if it weren't so far away. He took an extended trip out there weeks ago to make sure he could handle it. But a few days is much different than a few years. That being said, I know he doesn't like the idea of being a "DJ Monroe" guy for Texas. He wants to be an every-down back, and there might not be room at Texas for that.

Nicholas (CC,Tx)

Long shot here, if Gray comes right out of the gates and out performs Berg and Brown without question, or vice versus, do you see us nominating an exclusive back in our future or are we sticking with the plan of watering down our stars?

William Wilkerson

No. I think this offense will continue with the three-back set regardless of if another RB begins to shine. Now, if that back completely dominates, eh, surely he'll get more carries. But all three are so explosive in their own rights I just find it hard to believe that Harsin-Applewhite wouldn't find ways to get them involved.

David (Mansfield, Ohio)

After the latest DB update it mentioned that Texas may be the leader for M. Harris, what are the chances that we land him out of those offered thus far? And if we do not gain a commit from V. Bell who will they offer next, Miles or Baltimore? And after being in the lead for Davis and Smith, how does Texas stand with them now?

William Wilkerson

I have always thought Texas' chances with Harris were better than average, and I think they'll get no worse than that. I'd put Texas up there with Florida as the teams to beat. I'll lean toward Miles. I think GB ends up in the SEC. Smith likes Alabama a whole lot right now. I think Texas is in some trouble. Not so much with Smith.

Stephen (Seattle, WA)

What do you think will be the biggest difference from last years success to this years?

William Wilkerson

First and foremost just the comfort level the players and coaches have with each other. Always difficult for a new coaching staff to come in. Second, I think Texas simply has better players on this roster than last.

If you didn't get your question answered, tune in Friday and send in your questions to Sean Adams who will be chatting at 11 a.m. CT.

If you can't wait until then, hit us up on The Tower.

College World Series bracketology

May, 1, 2012
ESPN.com's college baseball Insider takes a look at where teams stand and project the regional hosts and which teams will be in the College World Series.

The ACC, Pac-12 and SEC continue to dominate the national landscape. With around 60 percent of the at-large bids likely to come from those three conferences, let's breakdown the pecking order for Selection Monday.

Texas is in the tournament. Mills has them slated to play in a Houston Regional with Rice, TCU and Monmouth.

To check out the rest of the bracket, read the full post.


Texas Longhorns Show Out On Pro Day
The Texas Longhorns produced several eligible NFL Draft athletes who participated in Pro Day Tuesday afternoon in Austin, Texas.