The Texas Longhorns played their first game of the season yesterday, matching up against the Sam Houston State Bearkats in a fall ball scrimmage at Disch-Falk Field. Using a lethal combination of hitting, bunting, and speed on the basepaths, Texas defeated the Bearkats 9-3. It was a far cry from the frustrating and often futile offensive effort this time last year, and the team appears to already be clicking under the tutelage of Texasâ€™ newest coach, Tommy Nicholson. Not to be outdone, Skip Johnsonâ€™s pitching staff held the Bearkats in check with five double plays, four of which were inning-enders. The stars on the mound were Chad Hollingsworth and Travis Duke, while on offense Erich Weiss, Madison Carter, and Mark Payton were all strong contributors.
http://im1.shutterfly.com/procgtaserv/47a2ce03b3127cce98549ade268600000035101AcOGrRk3ctA CJ Hinojosa at the Plate © Donald Boyles
Freshman RHP Chad Hollingsworth kicked the game off with two innings of solid pitching, leading the way for a parade of Texas pitchers, including Toller Boardman, Cameron Cox, Dillon Peters, Travis Duke, Ty Culbreth, Kirby Bellow, and Corey Knebel. None threw more than two innings, but Hollingsworth managed to separate himself from the crowd with his impressive breaking ball and control of the strike zone. Travis Duke also showed great poise and promise, pitching two innings of no hit baseball. During in-game interviews on the Longhorn Network, both Augie Garrido and Skip Johnson mentioned that rotation spots and roles on the pitching staff have not yet been determined, and it appeared as though each and every pitcher on the mound was pitching to the utmost of their abilities in an effort to land an important role.
http://im1.shutterfly.com/procgtaserv/47a2ce03b3127cce98549a9da7f500000035101AcOGrRk3ctA CJ Hinojosa & Brooks Marlow turn a double play © Donald Boyles
Defensively, Texas managed a much cleaner sheet than they averaged in the 2012 season with only one error in the 14 inning scrimmage. There were a few bobbles here and there, but the players managed to recover quickly enough to complete their plays. This is a great sign for Texas fans as the teamâ€™s defense suffered in 2012, managing a .966 fielding percentage, dead last in the Big XII conference. The middle infield especially shined, turning four of the 5 double plays, with newcomer CJ Hinojosa showing off his major league arm. Brooks Marlow also showed improved footwork over last season, and appears to be settling into his role at second base nicely. First and third base are currently more liquid, as Augie Garrido pointed out after the game, saying “Who is going to be the first baseman? I don’t know. Who is going to be the third baseman? I don’t know. But what I do know is that they have to be able to play defense. If they can’t play defense, they can’t play. That’s who we’re going to be.” Alex Silver and Madison Carter shared duties at first, and Erich Weiss and Ty Marlow splitt the job at third. The elder Marlow showed off an impressive arm during his time at third. Codey McElroy appeared as a shortstop in the later innings, and Erich Weiss slid to second base in the 10th as well. The outfield also saw different players, starting out with a familiar left and right field approach in Taylor Stell and Mark Payton, with speedy JuCo transfer Weston Hall in center. Colin Shaw, Mark Gottsacker, Ben Johnson, and crowd favorite Cohl Walla all saw relief time in the outfield.
http://im1.shutterfly.com/procgtaserv/47a2ce03b3127cce98549ae426bc00000035101AcOGrRk3ctA Madison Carter Comes Home © Donald Boyles
Texas showed great determination and poise at the plate, tallying 16 hits and scoring 9 runs over the course of the afternoon. Leaders at the plate included juniors Erich Weiss (2-for-6, one RBI) and Mark Payton (3-for-5 with one double, one stolen base, and one run scored), and sophomore transfer Madison Carter, our player of the game, who went 2-for-6 and scored three runs. Carter also showed off his speed, swiping two bases. Longhorn faithful will be happy to know that this does not appear to be last yearsâ€™ team at the plate. The coaches said before the game that this would be a more aggressive team on offense and that we would see a lot of hits through the middle. They delivered, and the use of wooden bats in practice seems to be paying off for the Longhorns. CJ Hinojosa showed that his reputation is not just hype, smacking the first pitch he saw as a Longhorn through the left side for a single. Four Longhorns were hit by pitch during the game – Collin Shaw, Erich Weiss, Cohl Walla, and Christian Summers. Taylor Stell and Weston Hall both displayed their precision and speed with bunt singles, and Augie Ball was on display throughout the game, with several successful sacrifice bunts.
http://texasbaseballblog.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/shsu2012.jpg Weston Hall watches as Taylor Stell slides safely into third © Donald Boyles
Coach Garrido seemed pleased with his teamâ€™s performance on Sunday, saying after the game, â€œWe have a lot of work to do, but you know whatâ€™s in place? The attitude. Theyâ€™ve got a good attitude. Theyâ€™ve got a good work ethic. Weâ€™re out here every day and the main goal is to build confidence, one-percent better per day. If we can do that we’re making progress. They did that today. We have work ethic in place, we have attitude in place, and we have commitment to team in place. It’s pretty awesome.â€ Â Texas has one more game of Fall Ball scheduled for next weekend, when they will welcome Longhorn Alumni Ty Harrington and his Texas State Bobcats to Disch-Falk Field. First pitch is scheduled for 1pm on Sunday, October 28, 2012, and admission will be $5 for adults, free for children under the age of 12.
Pictures courtesy of Donald Boyles.
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