Injuries, immaturity plagued UT baseball

AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas salvaged a game against Baylor.

Just like it salvaged a game against Texas A&M. Ditto for the Missouri series.

Now, with regular season over and the NCAA selections looming, everyone is left to wonder if the Longhorns can salvage their season.

“I would feel more comfortable if we had 40 wins,” Texas coach Augie Garrido said. “Normally we are right around the 40-win mark and I’m pretty comfortable with that.”

Instead Texas is stuck on 30 wins with 20 losses. Maybe that’s enough. It has been in the past. Baylor made the tournament with a 29-26 record last season. The Big 12 has averaged six teams in the postseason over the past eight years. Texas is currently third in the Big 12 standings.

So there is an argument to be made for the Longhorns. But history and logic are typically not factors in decisions made by the selection committee.

“It really goes all over the place,” Garrido said. “It’s such a complex chore for the selection committee and there are so many things they’re looking at back and over and around. The truth of the matter is the selection committee gets in that room and they have so many choices to make and so many different things to consider. It’s impossible to be consistent.”

That line could sum up Texas as well. This season it has been impossible for the Longhorns to be consistent.

It started in the fall with starting infielder Jordan Etier being arrested for evading arrest and marijuana. He was suspended from the team only to be reinstated Jan. 18 just prior to the season.

From there the season started to go up in smoke.

Cohl Walla, the starting center fielder, went down with an ACL tear. Starting pitcher Sam Stafford tore up his shoulder and was gone.

Parker French suffered a stress fracture in his elbow on his first Friday start at Missouri. Freshman Ricky Jacquez was booted from the team for disciplinary reasons. And one-time Friday starter Nathan Thornhill has been relegated to the bullpen.

“Now with the injuries happening, it’s really kind of starting to fall apart,” pitcher Corey Knebel said. “But we’ve got to pick it up and come back together.”

The issue is the pieces are scattered all over the field. That has left Texas scratching its head, trying to scratch out wins and searching for a word that best describes this team.

“Immaturity is a good word, yeah,” Garrido said.

That was an especially an apt description Friday as Garrido stared across the diamond at No. 7 Baylor.

“You see a team that’s got it under control,” the Texas coach said. “They’ve got their attitude in the right place. They’ve got their teamwork in the right place. And they’ve played together for two years.”

There are nights when Texas looks as if it has not played together for two weeks.

Take Texas Tech when three errors in one inning cost Corey Knebel the win. Or the last week of April when Etier had five errors in two games and Erich Weiss another three in a game against Texas A&M. Of course, that same series against the Aggies, Texas hit five batters in a game.

All that adds up to a team going from winning 25 straight Big 12 series to losing three in a row.

The Longhorns hadn’t lost three straight conference series since 1998. That also happens to be the last year Texas didn’t make it to the postseason, a fate the Longhorns are toying with as they head into this week’s Big 12 tournament in Oklahoma City.