CWS: Texas familiar with elimination pressures

Jon Parrett

And so the song remains the same.

Texas faces elimination for the 10th time this postseason today against North Carolina in the College World Series.

The Longhorns are 8-1 (including the Big 12 tournament) with their backs against the wall, but know they have a long road out of their bracket ahead of them; the first stop of which is against the Tar Heels.

“We can’t look ahead. We’ve got to focus on North Carolina and move on from there,” said shortstop Brandon Loy. “It’s a tough situation we’re in, but we’ve been in these situations the last couple of weeks, and this team is built
for it.”

The Longhorns know they didn’t play their best against Florida, and will look to limit their mistakes against the Tar Heels.

“Florida capitalized a lot on our mistakes that we made with walks, or whatever it might be with errors,” said third baseman Erich Weiss. “They deserved to win because they capitalized on it, but we’re just going to have to learn from our mistakes when we play North Carolina.”

The Tar Heels have seven left-handers in their lineup, led by switch-hitting shortstop and first-round draft pick Levi Michael. The number of lefties has prompted Texas head coach Augie Garrido to consider starting left-hander Sam Stafford rather than senior right-hander Cole Green. If it were up to Green, he would pitch in the four games it would take to get to the finals out of the loser’s bracket.

“I sacrificed something to be here,” said Green, who turned down a MLB contract to return to Texas for his senior season. “This is what I’ve worked for the whole year.”

It was a tough start to the season for Green, who didn’t pick up his first win until his fourth start. But Green has caught fire the past month, and is arguably pitching the best for Texas when it counts the most.

“I’ve learned a lot and it’s been a humbling year,” Green said. “I had to set goals not based upon results.”

For Green to be successful against Carolina’s left-handed batters, he needs to establish his fastball and throw a lot of strikes early in the count.

Green is 2-0 in four postseason appearances this year, including a five-inning outing against Arizona State in an elimination game of the Super Regional.

Green started the final game of the 2009 College World Series, when Texas lost to LSU. He said he will use what he learned in the loss to LSU, and that pitching doesn’t get any tougher than what he went through in 2009.

“This is what he came back for. He’s a leader on this team, and he’s done everything he can to put us in a position to win,” Loy said. “Cole is definitely the guy we want out there.”