A few thoughts on the upcoming series in Austin...
I REALLY hope Augie Garrido is arrogant enough to hold Taylor Jungmann (hands down Texas's most talented starter who has the most capability to dominate a game) back until Sunday like he did in their regional. I don't think this will be the case though, because I think even Garrido realizes the importance of game 1 in a series that will most likely be decided by pitching.
Just like Texas needs to throw Jungmann in game 1, I think we need to throw Purke in game 1 as well. Not only would that be a pitching matchup of two potential future early first round picks (Purke looks on track to do it again), but I think game 1 is of the utmost importance in a series like this. Purke may not have the best ERA and may not have been our best pitcher this past weekend, but I can almost guarantee that Texas hasn't seen a lefty this season with the kind of stuff Purke has. I do worry a bit about his nerves getting the best of him in the big spotlight, but Purke has been lights out lately and has enough experience this year and has really learned how to pitch off his fastball. I love Winkler and know he's a gamer, but I want the guy who is the most capable of completely taking over a game in the opener, and that is Matt Purke.
Cole Green, the Big 12 pitcher of the year, has really struggled down the stretch and I think the Winkler v Green matchup favors us at this point in the season. We beat Green last year in our lone win at the Super Regionals, so we should know what to expect from him. He's not overpowering like Jungmann and Brandon Workman can be, but he mixes pitches well and stays around the strike zone (24 walks in 106 IP), but doesn't strike many batters out. Green gave up 7 in 4 IP vs Aggy in the conference tourney, 4 runs in 5.2 the week before that, and 4 runs in 2.2 IP the weekend before that against La Tech. He did look sharp against Louisiana Lafayette last weekend, but it was ULL. There has been some speculation that he might be hurt, but then again, Texas fans make excuses for anything that go wrong.
I would feel extremely confident in a game 3 matchup with Stephen Maxwell pitching. I think Texas will work their rotation around from last weekend and not save Jungmann for game 3 (see my first point) and have Brandon Workman pitch game 3. Workman is extremely talented and was projected by many to be a first round pick this year but that wasn't the case. Workman was 12-1 this year, but has the highest ERA of any of their 3 starters by almost a run at 3.43. I haven't seen much of him this year, but in years past he was a hard throwing righty who can hit mid-90s and has a big, slow overhand curve. His fastball seems pretty straight (read hittable), so if we can catch up to the speed, I dont see it being an issue. Workman lost his job in the starting rotation last season with the emergence of Jungmann, so he didn't start against us in Austin. Maxwell stepped up huge Sunday in the biggest start of his life, and had Baylor hitters completely baffled. He seems to be hitting his stride right now as well, and if we have to play a 3rd game, he's the guy I'd want going there.
Don't give Texas a chance to use Ruffin in a save situation(gay pun not intended, but I'm not changing it now). Chance Ruffin, arguably the best closer in the nation, has been filthy since being moved to the closer's role this season with an ERA of .73 with 96 K's in 61.2 IP this season. That is not a typo. They may use him for multiple innings at a time in a tie game as well, so let's hope we can get leads early and not let put them in situations where he can thrive. Not to mention, this kid is a total douche who thinks he is God's gift to baseball, althought Matt Purke's Omahawk is sure to catch some serious shit while he's on the mound this weekend.
We are going to have to manufacture runs, not just rely on the long ball. This isn't like all the ballparks we have played in all season, many being in thin air against sub-par pitching. Douche-Falk (see what I did there) Field is enormous by college standards and is definitely a pitchers park. Our squad did set a school record for homeruns this season, but we have also shown an ability to manufacture runs with aggressive baserunning, bunting, advancing runners, and productive outs. Anyone who watched last weekends regional saw plenty of that kind of ball, and even got to experience the humor of Baylor and Lamar trying to play defense against it. Let's hope we come a little more prepared for Texas's bunts than we did last year as well, because everyone in the country knows that's how they play so we should've seen it coming.
Basically, I think in order to beat Texas this year, I think we have to beat them at their own game and not try to out-slug them, because they showed us last year that they can play that way too (has that Kevin Keyes bomb landed yet, and I wonder what Matt Carpenter said to him when he rounded 3rd...). Our starters and their combined 35-2 record need to continue to dominate, the back end of our bullpen (Tyler Lockwood and Kaleb Merck) need to continue to be rock solid like they have all year, and we need to manufacture runs and not rely on the long ball. I like the idea of Featherston in the leadoff spot because he is red hot right now, so let's hope he can keep it up and the heart of our order can drive in some runs early and often this weekend. Our team this year is light years better, especially on the mound and defensively, than the team we had last year, and let's hope Texas and their cocky ass attitude fail to realize that and we take full advantage.
I'll leave you with a little UT cockiness from their Cali douche leader Augie Garrido. After being swept out of the Big 12 tournament by Missouri (beat them), Aggy (beat them), and Tech (beat them 4 times), Phil Jackson wannabe and ultra-douche Augie responded with "Even a lion passes up a kill if it just ate". Well Augie, you cocky drunken asshole, it's time for you to starve...