One mission accomplished. The Horns 5-1 win over Texas State Tuesday night made official what we already knew, Augie Garrido is the king of college baseball. He deserves a tip of the hat.
Now it’s time to get down to real business. Serious business. The 2014 Horns are off to their best start since the 2005 team. All that team did was win a National Championship. As for this edition, questions still abound despite their 20-6 record.
This weekend, the Horns travel to the South Plains to take on the Texas Tech Red Raiders (21-7), currently ranked 24th in the nation by USA Today. Tech is hot, having taken two of three from TCU in Forth Worth last weekend and following that up with a mid-week double-header sweep of Arkansas-Pine Bluff. For the season, the Red Raiders are 16-2 in the friendly confines of Dan Law Field.
As for Texas, we all see the 400 lb gorilla in the room. The Horns still haven’t won a Big XII series since April 20-22 2012 when they took two of three from Kansas. That’s nearly two years and 12 Big XII series ago. This streak has to stop, but doing it in Lubbock won’t be easy.
Expect it to be a low scoring series this weekend. While Tech comes into the series with the second best staff ERA in the Big XII at 2.78. Texas is first with a sparkling 1.88 mark. Obviously, runs will be at a premium.
The fun starts Friday night when Parker French takes the hill for the Horns. French’s record is only 3-2 but that doesn’t indicate how dominant he’s been. In 39 innings of work, he has more strikeouts (35) than hits allowed (33) while posting a 1.62 ERA. The Red Raiders counter with right hander Dominic Moreno, who sports a hard luck 1-4 record despite a respectable 2.81 era.
Dillon Peters (3-1 1.79) takes the hill for Texas on Saturday while Tech counters with the always dominant TBD. Likely starters are either freshman left hander Dylan Dusek (3-0 1.69) or sophomore righty Matt Withrow (3-1 3.90), who leads the Tech pitching staff with 32 strikeouts in 27 innings worked. Texas should definitely have the advantage on the mound Saturday.
On Sunday, aces clash when Nathan Thornhill, 4-0 with a miniscule 1.01 ERA, goes up against Chris Sadberry (3-1 2.35) . Thornhill has authored two of the Horns Big XII leading five shutouts this season, including an 11-0 whitewash of Columbia last Saturday.
Offensively, the Horns hope that Tres Barrera keeps swinging a hot stick. Barrera is hitting .471 in his last nine games, raising his batting average by a whopping 140 points. Senior Mark Payton continues to be the catalyst. Payton has now successfully reached base in 65 straight games and is second in the Big XII in batting at .420.
Senior OF Adam Kirsch is the Red Raiders best positional player. Kirsch leads the team in batting at .330 and has knocked in 26 runs while leading the nation with 15 doubles. Sophomore utility player Eric Gutierrez leads the Red Raiders with 3 homers while hitting .326 and driving in 18 while senior third baseman Jake Barrios is hitting .303 with 17 RBIs. As a team, Tech is hitting .289, but will be hard pressed to approach that type of performance against the Longhorns starting trio.
Although Tech is a sold team who has played well at home, Texas is the better team. There’s no reason that the Horns shouldn’t take at least two this weekend and finally break that embarrassing losing streak. It would bode well for the remainder of the season for Texas to break through on the road against a solid Red Raider squad. Suffer another series loss and the grumbling in Austin will continue to grow louder.
So what so you, Longhorn Nation? Is this the weekend we finally break through?