Texas was down 4-3 with two on and one out on in the bottom of the ninth. The Longhorns were riding a late inning offensive renaissance en route to a signature comeback win.
Or so it seemed.
With victory within grasp, junior outfielder Zane Gurwitz and redshirt sophomore infielder Bret Boswell both struck out, stranding the tying run at second and handing Texas its second-straight loss at the hands of No. 12 California.
Texas was outgained in the runs department, but head coach Augie Garrido had no intentions of letting that one stat color his vision of the game.
“I thought we had one of our best games of being in control of ourselves inside the batter’s box and competing throughout the game,” Garrido said. “Did we do enough to win the game? Obviously not.”
Sophomore right-hander Kyle Johnston’s nine-hit, four run final line didn’t look fantastic, but the sophomore was not helped defensively over his six innings of work.
Redshirt sophomore left fielder Ben Kennedy hesitated and took a bad route on a fly ball to catalyze a pair of two-out runs in the third, and a throwing error from shortstop Bret Boswell led to another two-out tally in the sixth.
“We provided them with their opportunities offensively,” Garrido said. “We were imperfect defensively and didn’t have enough runs to cover the spread. When you give away four, you have to have five to win.”
Johnston also struck out six Golden Bears, thanks to a changeup that flew with stellar downward action under the fruitless swings of the Cal hitters.
“Johnston was awesome,” Garrido said. “He made adjustments throughout the game and eventually got them off balance.”
The four-run deficit that Johnston left behind, though, was too much for the Texas offense to overcome against arguably the best pitcher in the nation.
Cal right-hander Daulton Jefferies came into the game riding a streak of 12-straight innings without an earned run, and carried that streak five more innings into Friday’s match.
But in the sixth inning, the Longhorns slowly but surely began to chip away at Jefferies’ perfection.
“We got in a huddle, and we were talking about our energy,” second baseman Joe Baker said. “We were a little flat throughout the beginning of the game and we said, ‘Let’s get it going.’ Kyle was pitching a hell of a game, and we wanted to get some runs for him.”
The Longhorns put together a nice string of base hits to post runs in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings before mounting the impressive, but ultimately fruitless rally in the bottom of the ninth.
“There are so many things to be excited about, and the loss has a tendency to erase all the good things that happened,” Garrido said. “But I’m not gonna let it go there.”