Offense shuts down in loss to #12 California

Daniel Clay

Great starting pitching, poor fielding and no offense.

The formula has become common for Texas, and was enough to drop the Longhorns below .500 in a 6-0 home loss at the hands of the California Golden Bears.

Texas starter Ty Culbreth spun eight innings of three run ball and struck out six California batters but got no help from his teammates on offense or defense.

Golden Bears junior center fielder Aaron Knapp led off the game with a towering fly to left, but backtracking Texas left fielder Jake McKenzie couldn’t settle under the ball. Knapp ended up on third with a stand up triple. A hit by pitch, a sac fly and an RBI single made the score 2-0 before the Longhorns had a chance to hit.

“If you are on the field, the easiest thing to play is defense,” head coach Augie Garrido said. “But all told, nine of their runs [this series] came from defensive mistakes that are very controllable and very fundamental plays.”

That early bit of offense was enough to sink the Texas attack for the rest of the afternoon.

“It’s just the fact that we’re trying to get the runs to overcome the other team’s lead,” Garrido said. “It does make it more difficult and it does require a higher level of confidence than we’re demonstrating right now.”

Culbreth kept the game close and rode his composure out of a two-on, no-out jam in the fourth before surrendering a solo home run in the sixth. But the Longhorn offense was unable to break through to California pitcher Mason Ryan in the early going.

In the latter half of the game, though, the Texas offense showed signs of resurrection.

Texas leadoff hitter Zane Gurwitz lead off the sixth with a clean single, one of Texas’ three hits in the game, followed by a Bret Boswell walk.

With the middle of the lineup coming up to bat, it looked like Texas would finally break its offensive drought.

But even a dose of ‘Augie ball’ was not enough to break the silence. After a sacrifice bunt by three hitter Joe Baker, Tres Barrera struck out swinging, and Michael Cantu hit a routine grounder to short to keep the Longhorns off the board.

“To make [Augie ball] work you have to execute, and it starts by getting base runners on,” Garrido said. “There’s really no tricky offense with no baserunners.”

A two-out throwing error in the ninth by second baseman Joe Baker followed by a pair of base hits pushed three more runs across to put Texas into an insurmountable 6–0 hole and hand the team its first series loss of the season.

“We’re not playing offense very well,” Garrido said. “Offense is about run scoring — we’re not scoring runs.”