Posted February 23rd, 2009 by Mike
Filed under: Baseball, Feature

Connor Rowe slides back into the newly FieldTurfed first base.

Connor Rowe slides back into the newly FieldTurfed first base during the season opener.

With [tag]Augie Garrido[/tag] watching from home the 2009 Texas Longhorn baseball team got the season going on the right foot sweeping four games against Illinois-Chicago. This year’s version of Texas baseball looked to be a throwback to the 2002-2005 Longhorns. Texas won 6-1 Friday, took the double header Saturday 3-1 and 10-1 (in seven innings), and 1-0 on Sunday.

Texas’ pitching staff showed off all weekend combining for a 0.79 ERA and striking out 24. Texas has four capable starters in [tag]Chance Ruffin[/tag], [tag]Taylor Jungmann[/tag], [tag]Cole Green[/tag], and [tag]Brandon Workman[/tag]. All four of them went at least six innings and none of them gave up more than one run. And the best part is all of them are not yet draft eligible.

It wasn’t just the starters that were on display in the opening series. Newly appointed closer senior [tag]Austin Wood[/tag] was nearly perfect in his two appearances, both of which were for two innings to finish off games. Wood gave up only one hit and walked one batter.

Defensively the Longhorns were stellar. For the weekend Texas committed one error. Last year’s ball club struggled defensively all last season. Garrido teams usually defend well and this year’s team looks to fit the mold early. The new surface provides truer bounces and speed so look for the defense to be much improved, especially in the infield.

Offensively Texas did enough. The Longhorns won’t have the pop they did with [tag]Kyle Russell[/tag] in the lineup, but Texas will make contact and stay on the base paths. The Longhorns only registered six extra base hits in the series, but did a good job of getting runners on with one and two outs and using the sacrifice bunt to produce runs. Some fans might not like it, but it works. And it will work even better on the new and slow motion playing surface.

Overall it was just one weekend, and in baseball fortunes can change quickly, but Garrido has shown his recipe for success in the past: pitching, defense, sacrifice bunts. This team showed all three this weekend in the sweep over a pretty good ball club. Mentally Texas has been lacking after the run early in the decade. Changing that mentality will decide if this team has a trip to Omaha in their future.

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