The Longhorns just finished up the Austin Regional, beating Kent State 5-0 in the elimination game to advance to the Super Regional, which will be held in Austin. Arizona State will be the upcoming opponent, but there’s all week to talk about how Texas matches up with the Sun Devils. For now, let’s close the book on a wild and crazy weekend of baseball.
Austin Regional Tournament Team
Pitcher – Cole Green, Texas
Pitcher – Andrew Chafin, Kent State
1B – Tant Shepherd, Texas
2B – Derek Toadvine, Kent State
SS – Brandon Loy, Texas
3B – Kyle Kubitza, Texas State
OF – Mark Payton, Texas
OF – Bret Atwood, Texas State
OF – Ben Klafczynski, Kent State
DH – Kevin Lusson, Texas
Most Outstanding Player: Tant Shepherd, Texas
Personally, I think the snub of Sam Stafford is the biggest complaint with the All-Tournament team. On my ballot, I had Stafford as the MOP. In two games, the junior left-hander started twice, pitching 10.2 combined innings of one-run ball. If it wasn’t for his gutsy effort Monday against Kent State, I’m not so sure the Longhorns would have won, as they really had nobody else who could have effectively started and lasted three or four innings.
Inside Augie’s Mind
I’ve transcribed head coach Augie Garrido’s comments from today’s post-game press conference, in which he explained how he worked all six pitchers in the game.
“The way that their lineup breaks down, they have more lefts than rights. We were trying to get Sam Stafford [a left-hander] through the top of the order twice, and that’s what we did. We felt if he did that, he had done his job. Then the numbers added up and we made switches from there. Depending on if it was a momentum-shifting moment or not, which it was when we brought him in, we were bringing in Milner. If we had had five or six runs, we would have put in Andrew McKirahan. Either way, we wanted to throw a lefty. When the lineup turns over to righties, we would have taken them out for Carrillo, if there were runners on base, or Nathan Thornhill, if it was a clean inning.
Cole Green and Taylor Jungmann committed to an inning, so we could work backwards from Corey Knebel. We thought he could throw two innings if we needed him to. He didn’t, because Sam went farther than we had thought he would. So what that did is put Knebel into one, so we were able to pitch Cole and Jungmann one inning each. Between Cole and Jungmann, Jungmann is more effective against left-handed hitters than Cole is. That’s how we staggered the pitching changes.”
Impressions of Kent State
Color me impressed with the quality of play that the three-seed Golden Flashes brought to this regional. They gave the Longhorns all they wanted and more. Head coach Scott Stricklin made it a point to acknowledge how well the Austin crowd treated his team.
“I want to say how much we enjoyed our week here in Austin. This is the fourth regional that we’ve been to in the last five years and I can say that it’s done right here. The fans were unbelievable. They got on us but they got on us the right way. They cheered for their team. They cheered for our players when they made good plays. That’s the first thing our kids were talking about last night how good the fans are here and how good the people are. That’s the first thing I want to say, how much we enjoyed our stay here in Austin.”
While his coach was a class act, I’m not sure Kent State pitcher Andrew Chafin made any friends this weekend. I’m not talking about the gem he twirled against the Longhorns on Saturday night.
On Sunday, Chafin and his teammates were walking across the field into the dugout a few hours before the game began, and Chafin looked up at the press box and dragged his pointer finger across his neck — the “throat slash.” Not sure what he’s got against a bunch of guys with laptops and tape recorders.
Lusson goes long
Kevin Lusson has got to be the story of the weekend. The junior designated hitter, who came into the regional hitting .190, had quite a series. Saturday night, he hit a ninth-inning, three-run home run against Kent State that brought the Longhorns within two. The momentum carried over Sunday when Lusson, with a runner on third, slapped the game-winning hit in the bottom of the ninth against the Bobcats. The ball hopped over the right field wall. In any other case, it would have been a ground-rule double, but in walk-off situations, nothing else counts once the winning run crosses the plate.
In the nightcap, he launched another bomb over the right-field wall to distance Texas’ lead against Kent State in a must-win game.
His approach this week?