Consistent bats key in tough March games

Daniel Clay

The Longhorn offense has been a bit of an anomaly in this young season. 

Head coach Augie Garrido proudly touted his plan to emulate the 2015 Kansas City Royals by making contact, taking smart at-bats and not striking out. 

At times, the Longhorns have looked just like the team Garrido was hoping for. Texas plated 18 runs in its two wins in the season-opening series against UNLV and added 13 more in a pair of wins against Stanford including a 9-0 shellacking on Saturday. 

The losses, though, have been a different story. 

In three losses on the season, the Longhorns have scored just four combined runs and averaged just under ten strikeouts per nine innings. In Sunday’s 11-1 loss to Stanford, the team struck out six times and stranded runners in scoring position in the first four innings.  

“There’s been a lot of unexpected,” Garrido said of his offense’s habits on the season. 

Texas junior center fielder and leadoff hitter Zane Gurwitz expressed a similar disappointed optimism. 

“It’s early in the year,” Gurwitz said. “No one is concerned. You just got to learn from it and get better. That’s all.”

The Longhorns will have a chance to for an offensive rebound with a road matchup Tuesday night at 6 p.m. against Texas State, but a win in San Marcos is far from a sure thing for Garrido’s club. 

The Bobcats enter Tuesday’s contest sporting a .278 team batting average, 24 points higher than Texas’ mark, and enough offensive firepower to overcome any missed pitches by the young Longhorn staff. 

Catcher Tanner Hill, who hit nine home runs while maintaining a .319 average in 2015, leads the Bobcat attack, but this season, the senior is joined by three other regulars with averages above .300. 

Regardless of how good the Longhorns actually are, the intimidation factor of playing against Texas, led by the winningest coach in college baseball history is sometimes enough to pull out a win against a
nervous opponent. 

The Bobcats though, have no reason to be intimidated by the Longhorns. Texas State has already played well in close road losses against the postseason regulars Rice Owls and the undefeated Michigan State Spartans and has proven that it can score runs against the best teams in the country. 

An early offensive outburst by Texas State could be enough to dishearten the young Longhorns. Texas has yet to pull off a come from behind win this season, and a loss would hand the club a .500 record heading into a stretch of eight out of nine games against ranked opponents. 

The veterans, though, are confident the team will be battle hardened enough to overcome the impending adversity this month. 

“We have a young team,” Gurwitz said. “As the season goes on and we get down more in games, because it’s going to happen, our guys will be able to build from it and be able to get momentum some way or another.”