The Texas Baseball season is over after yet another controversial loss to Long Beach State in the NCAA Tournament.
A game that was scheduled to start at 10:00 p.m. Texas time and ended at 1:30 a.m. CST time saw Long Beach State win 2-1 over the Longhorns in California. [ Full Box Score ]
Texas played Long Beach in three games that ended well after midnight CST time. The Longhorns won the first game on Saturday/Sunday, lost the second game on Sunday/Monday thanks to poor umpiring, and lost by one run again on Monday/Tuesday in the Regional Final.
With Monday’s game starting at 10:00 p.m. Texas time and 8:00 p.m. locally, the Longhorns were not sharp early on.
Long Beach State scored in the first via errant throw that allowed leadoff batter Jarren Duran to score. It was part of a poor first inning for Longhorns starter Nick Kennedy, who did not look sharp with the late start time.
Long Beach scored again in the third inning on a double steal. Meanwhile, the Texas hitters looked sleepy at the plate their first time through the order against Dirtbags starter Dave Smith, who was pitching on two days rest.
Texas finally scored in the fifth on a wild pitch to make the game 2-1. Overall, all three runs in the game scored without the ball put in play.
But, the sixth inning was the real turning point in the game for Texas.
Texas Baseball Hurt by Another Erratic Strikezone
In the top of the sixth inning, Texas put together a rally with Zane Gurwitz singling and Travis Jones doubling.
With runners on second and third, the Dirtbags went to a lefthander Zak Baayoun to face lefty Kacy Clemens as Roger Clemens watched from the first base side dugout.
Clemens worked the count to 1-1. Then, the home plate umpire called the third pitch a strike when it was clearly away. The next pitch was even further off the plate, but it was also called a strike for a strikeout.
Now with two outs, lefty Bret Boswell faced a similar 1-2 count. And, he was called out on a third strike that was just as egregious as the last pitch to Kacy.
Three balls outside and off the plate ended Texas’ rally attempt to at least tie the game. It was just as bad as Sunday’s home plate umpire Perry Costello, whose strikezone was all over the place.
Texas did not get a hit the rest of the game in the last three innings. In his final at-bat as a Longhorn in the ninth inning, senior Kacy Clemens battled to a 3-2 count, then struck out swinging.
Overall in the NCAA Tournament, Kacy started the Longhorns with a home run in their first win against UCLA. But, Kacy only recorded one more hit the rest of the tournament.
The rest of the Texas offense was not much better on Monday/Tuesday. The Horns only collected four hits and committed two costly errors in the game.
Plus, playing late at night in Southern California changes the way you have to play since the air is so thick and the ball does not travel. A scrappy California team like Long Beach knows how to play, while the Horns struggled to put together offense.
The result was Texas holding on to their first game against UCLA, beating Long Beach in extras in their second game, and losing back-to-back one-run games on Sunday and Monday against the Dirtbags.
NCAA Needs to Review “Regionals” Format
The NCAA should change the name of the first round of the tournament from “Regionals” to something else. This was not a “Regional” for Texas playing late night games two timezones away.
Last Sunday, the Longhorns were snubbed as a Regionals host despite having a Top 16 RPI. Then, Texas was sent to California for a series of late-night games.
Meanwhile, two of the last three teams that even qualified for the NCAA Tournament – UCLA and Texas A&M – were given the gift of staying home to play in Regionals.
UCLA lost to Texas in Long Beach, then was eliminated by San Diego State. Meanwhile, A&M was gifted a Regional in Houston, which they won.
What should have happened is A&M sent to Long Beach as the three seed and UCLA should have been sent to Houston as a three seed. In actuality, the NCAA rewarded mediocrity by keeping two of the last teams to qualify for the tournament in their home markets.
And, Texas should have been the two seed in the Houston Regional, not Baylor, since the Horns finished ahead of the Bears in the RPI.
Texas nearly escaped Long Beach anyways despite being dealt a bad hand. We would have seen the Augie Garrido Bowl between Texas and Cal State Fullerton in the Super Regionals. Instead, the Texas season is unfortunately over.