UT Baseball Begins 2011 Campaign
Jungmann opens season with two complete-game shutouts
By Russ Espinoza, 12:51PM, Tue. Mar. 1, 2011
Uneven performances over the young season’s first eight games have staked the 2011 Longhorns (ranked No. 6) to a 5-3 record – with a sensuous trip to Hawaii on the athletic department’s dime.
After going 35-6 at home last season, head coach Augie Garrido’s new edition has already incurred two losses at UFCU Disch-Falk Field, including a surprising 8-7 loss on February 22 to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi that saw the Islanders score at least one run in all but three innings.
Staff ace Taylor Jungmann (2-0) is the team’s runaway MVP at this early juncture following two complete-game victories over Maryland (Feb. 18) and Hawaii (Feb. 25). The junior right-hander finished 2010 with a 2.03 ERA (34th best in the nation) over 17 starts; he headlines a Longhorn pitching staff infused with five freshmen arms that no longer features Chance Ruffin, whose 1.11 ERA last season was the nation’s second best – he was selected 48th overall by Detroit in the 2010 MLB draft. Texas shelled Maryland 8-0 on opening day, behind Jungmann’s five-hit, nine-strikeout performance and freshman third baseman Erich Weiss’ 3 for 3, three RBI college debut. UT defended their home field in the series by winning three of four over the unranked Terrapins — making soup of them in the finale, 16-0.
Jungmann’s powerful 8-0 win on opening day marked his first career complete-game shutout and further beautified his spotless record at home — now 11-0 over 18 career starts. His follow-up start in the series opener in Hawaii on Friday night was nearly identical to its predecessor: Jungmann again struck out nine batters, gave up only four hits, and earned his second consecutive complete-game shutout, as UT won 2-0 on a pair of RBI singles from freshman right-fielder Mark Payton and Erich Weiss in the third and sixth innings.
Saturday afternoon’s heart-wrenching 5-4 loss in 15 innings to the Rainbows negated a solid one-run, four-hit outing from right-hander Cole Green. The senior from Coppell, Texas, struck out nine Hawaii Rainbows over 6.2 innings, but the Longhorn relief corps collapsed in the bottom of the eighth as senior right-hander Stayton Thomas and sophomore left-hander Hoby Milner combined to blow a three-run lead and send the game into extra innings; where a pair of wild pitches with a Rainbow on base by freshman reliever Corey Knebel cost Texas the game in the bottom of the 15th.
Having bitterly disappointed fans of both sports and linguistics, the Longhorns didn’t “hang ten” on Hawaii in Sunday’s series finale, instead winning by a 4-3 score even Chaucer couldn’t work with.
“We’re a team in transition,” head coach Augie Garrido said. “We’re still working on finding a closer and we’re working on confidence in other areas. This is the same team you will see at the end of the season. The guys are working hard and the improvement will show in games. I’m much happier with their approach this weekend than I was on Tuesday" (referring to Texas’ 8-7 loss to Texas A&M Corpus Christi).
Texas returns home on Friday with pictures and positivity for a telling three-game series against the No. 12 Stanford Cardinal (4-3) at UFCU Disch-Falk Field. The Cardinal figure to be crisp and focused thanks to previous road series against No. 3 Vanderbilt and No. 18 Rice – where they went 3-3. Consider this UT’s wake-up call that baseball in 2011 is officially under way.