For a Texas team whose NCAA Tournament chances are hanging by a thread, its sense of urgency should be increasing with every loss.
But despite their baffling inability to win a series in Big 12 play this year and Tuesday nights usually serving as a victorious reprieve for the Longhorns this season, all they could manage against a Prairie View A&M team with a 5.33 team ERA was one run — ONE run — on five hits.
“I doubt that they’ll ever have the courage to walk back on this field after that,” head coach Augie Garrido joked after his team’s 1-0 win over the Panthers. “We’re talking about a 10-run rule before the game starts and we’re holding on for dear life in the seventh inning. It surprised me a lot.”
Struggling to push runs across while getting swept by Baylor like Texas did last weekend is one thing. Scoring just once against Prairie View A&M is an entirely different matter.
Prairie View A&M senior Stephen Lunsford, making just his second career start, had a 5.00 ERA in 13 outings this year before holding Texas scoreless through six innings to begin Tuesday’s game. The Longhorns had just two hits, one of which didn’t leave the infield, going into the seventh.
It took a two-out error by Panthers second baseman Andre Oliver in that seventh frame to spark the only run-scoring rally of the game. Jacob Felts reached on the play and scored on a Jeremy Montalbano single two batters later.
“The problem is that we didn’t put a lot of difficult balls in play with a lot of backspin on them, really hard line drives,” Garrido said. “They made a lot of plays. All but that one.”
In the series against Baylor over the weekend, starting pitchers Parker French, Dillon Peters and Nathan Thornhill posted a collective 1.96 ERA — each picking up a loss. Despite boasting a combined 2.27 ERA this season, they are a mere 9-12 on the year.
Josh Urban, who may be used out of the bullpen this weekend against Kansas State, followed suit, tossing five scoreless innings. But, because of Texas’ inept offense, he didn’t pick up the win as the Longhorns could not score until the seventh.
“Our pitching has been outstanding,” Urban said. “Hitting, they’ve helped us some games but we’ll need them in the long haul. They’re going to have to do their job and we’re going to have to do our job.”
As has been the case after most of Texas’ midweek contests, the Longhorns have shown that they still have a lot of work to do before being NCAA Tournament-worthy. After the last Tuesday night game of the season, that still rings true.
Because if all Texas can muster is one run on five hits against a 20-21 Prairie View A&M squad, it doesn’t belong in the postseason.