The Longhorns started off slow, but they've played their way back into the Top 25. This weekend, they have a big series against Cal at the Dell Diamond.
After a long post-season run last year, Longhorn baseball was off to an unfamiliar start. Including a sweep at the hands of the 3rd ranked Stanford Cardinals, the Longhorns started the season 4-8 with disappointing losses against UT Arlington and Loyola Marymount, both in Austin. As per the usual when the Longhorns are slumping, they struggled to put runs on the scoreboard, averaging 3.5 runs per game and only 2.3 runs in their eight losses.
However, following their loss to Loyola Marymount, the Longhorns finally found their stride. Led by the run-producing threesome of right fielder Mark Payton, left fielder Jonathan Walsh, and Eric Weiss, Texas has run off 10 wins in 11 games, averaging over six runs a game. The Longhorns’ always-consistent rotation, anchored by ace Corey Knebel, has complemented their newfound hitting stroke, allowing a respectable 3.4 runs a game. The Longhorns have risen back to 19th in the Collegiate Baseball rankings after falling out of the top 25.
Heading into the weekend, the Longhorns face perennial power Cal Berkeley at Dell Diamond in Round Rock. In a stocked Pac 12, Berkeley has flown under the radar all season. Although Cal isn’t ranked, they still present a stiff challenge as they too are coming off a trip to the College World Series last season. Cal boasts a deep lineup headlined by the infield tandem of Mitch Delfino and Tony Renda, and has a dependable pitching staff led my Matt Flemer.
In order to continue their hot streak, the Longhorns have to continue to produce runs to keep pace with the Bears. Auggieball has flourished over the last two weeks and that has to continue against Cal. The Longhorns’ pitching faces a daunting task this weekend. Berkeley fields a regular lineup with five batters hitting over the .300 mark. Knebel and company will have to control the middle of lineup to stop the Bears from exploding on the scoreboard.