The Texas Longhorn baseball team is set to host a Regional from Friday through Monday. I keep expecting to get excited for this weekend’s games and the opportunity they present, but this weekend’s foes have me feeling meh about the Regional.
Sun Tzu is credited with saying, "It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles." I trust that Augie Garrido knows his own club, so my focus here is to get to know the enemies coming to town for the Austin Regional.
I took one look and it became apparent to me that the other way to win 100 battles is to be the No. 1 seed in Austin this weekend.
Baseball superstitions are legendary, so I may have just jinxed the team. I just can’t see any way that Texas is threatened this weekend short of the self-inflicted type. If things go poorly, then somebody better start sharpening a katana. Seppuku, imo.
No. 2 seed: Texas State Bobcats
Team ERA: 3.82
Team Batting: .298
Runs per game: 6.93
Notable wins: Texas State went 1-10 in games against A&M, Arkansas, Baylor, Missouri, Texas, Tech, Rice & TCU.
Notable losses: The Bobcats only lost 21 games on the season and 10 of them were to the list above. I’ll forgive the loss to Missouri State in the second game of the season and call a 24-9 Southland conference record "respectable".
How they can beat Texas: The Bobcats are familiar with the Horns and the venue. They will not be intimidated. They also have extra-incentive to burn "big brother". They’re like the Aggies without the talent and resources. Sum it up as want-to.
Why they won’t beat Texas: The Bobcats are an unimpressive 12-12 away from home. If you’re still unconvinced, their opponent’s ERA is over 6.00. That tells you what you need to know about the level of competition they faced.
The Longhorns already beat them twice and struck out over 20 Texas State batters along the way…and they haven’t faced Jungmann yet.
Want-to in moving pictures.
No. 3 seed: Kent State Golden Flashes
Team ERA: 2.56
Team Batting: .296
Runs per game: 6.15
Notable wins: The Golden Flashes tallied wins at Georgia Tech, Coastal Carolina and Houston.
Notable losses: Kent State only lost 5 MAC games and most of them were Sundays when they already had a series win. The exception is a series loss at Central Michigan (31-27).
How they can beat Texas: I actually think Kent State is marginally better than Texas State. Both teams need to throw their ace on Friday, so the Golden Flash’s best hope is to win that one and saddle up on emotion in hopes that Andrew Chafin can pitch again on Monday.
Why they won’t beat Texas: Kent State is 7-20 all-time in NCAA tourney games and this is their first-ever No. 3 seed in a Regional. Yeah, you read that correctly.
No. 4 seed: Princeton Tigers
Team ERA: 4.87
Team Batting: .276
Runs per game: 5.13
Notable wins: Princeton went 2-4 against teams that made the field of 64. They beat Navy and Seton Hall.
Notable losses: The Tigers started the year 3-13 and finished one game over .500.
How they can beat Texas: They’re starting a Texan, Zak Hermans, on Friday evening. Kid is from Coppell and was All-State good in high school. If he can handle the pressure, Hermans is capable of striking out 4 or 5 batters and lasting six innings. Tigers would have to hold on from there.
Why they won’t beat Texas: Princeton was the first team to qualify for postseason play when they beat Dartmouth in the Ivy League’s postseason. Now they get a nice Summer vacay to Austin. They’re 3-19 all-time in postseason play. If it’s not 3-21 by Saturday, something is wrong.
History is full of underdog stories where individuals and teams have overcome seemingly insurmountable odds. A few more will be added to the list during Regional play around the country this weekend. Don’t expect Austin to join in the fun.
Enjoy the baseball and hope that these three teams serve as the springboard Garrido has been looking for all season.