OMAHA, Neb. — A scary, new Taylor Jungmann came to life Saturday night at TD Ameritrade Park — one who could not locate his pitches, could not pitch with a lead, and, for the third straight time, could not get a win.
“At times, my stuff was as bad as it’s been all year,” he said.
He had already lost two postseason games before Florida took him by storm — June 4 against Kent State and June 10 against Arizona State. But this one was different. He did not give up a fluke grand slam to earn the loss. He did not suffer from a lack of offensive support either. He couldn’t find the strike zone, throwing seven straight balls at one point, and could not help his team to a lead after they had given him a three-run cushion.
It was smooth sailing through the first two innings; the second of which he only needed five pitches to complete. Then, against the bottom of Florida’s lineup, Jungmann issued two consecutive walks, gave up a run on a hit through the infield, and another run scored on a passed ball.
The junior right-hander struck out the next two Gators — ironically, their two best hitters — Preston Tucker and Mike Zunino, to end the inning.
Jungmann started fine in the fourth, inducing two consecutive groundouts. Then his command problems struck again — another walk, then a wild pitch, and then an RBI-double.
After crawling out of the fourth, Jungmann could only get one out in the fifth inning before he was pulled. By then, the Longhorns looked dead, swinging the bat without any zeal and playing the game like it was one they had already lost. What looked like a very healthy lead — after all, the team was 29-1 when leading after three innings — had vanished.
“Obviously it was a good opportunity for us,” said junior shortstop Brandon Loy. “But things didn’t go our way.”
Mechanical flaws have haunted Junmgann the past few weeks. At times it looked like he was over-throwing and driving the ball down. His arm angle was inconsistent, too. Those issues were supposed to have been worked out the past few days.
“Mechanically, some things have been going wrong lately. We’ve worked on them in the bullpen, but we couldn’t bring it to the bullpen today,” he said.
It may have been a smart for head coach Augie Garrido and pitching coach Skip Johnson to realize their fallen ace was struggling and get him out before the fifth inning. Then again, Texas’ bullpen surrendered three more runs. Florida's lineup was too good from top to bottom (the eight and nine hitters, Daniel Pigott and Cody Dent, combined for three hits) for any team to afford a pitching lapse.
“I think around the third inning I got out of rhythm,” Jungmann said. “Once I got out of rhythm, I made some bad pitches that set them up with some opportunities to score runs. They took advantage of it.”