Texas's Kacy Clemens tries to tag Cal Mitchell Kranson as he slides in safe at first base during the NCAA men's college baseball game at the UFCU Disch-Falk Field in Austin,Tex., Friday, Mar. 4, 2016. RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Baseball

Texas shut out by Cal 6-0 — what’s up with that?

Posted March 5th, 2016

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Story highlights
  • Over his past 23 games dating to last year, Michael Cantu is hitting a dismal .131 (13 for 86).
  • Texas needs to win on Sunday to avoid being swept in four games for the first time in school history
  • Another gaffe by the left fielder leads to big inning for Cal

After another crummy day at the plate, Texas baseball Augie Garrido was eager to retreat to his team’s clubhouse and ask a question: What’s up?

He said he wanted to go up and down the team and extend the inquiry to all of his hitters, who did next to nothing Saturday in a 6-0 loss to Cal.

Oh, to be a ghost in the clubhouse for this one. Garrido held his team in lockdown for 50 minutes before starting pitcher Ty Culbreth finally came onto the field to greet family members.

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Garrido, whose club slipped to 5-6 and is on the verge of being swept in four games for the first time in school history, warned reporters, “We might be in there awhile.”

“When I go in there, I’m going to say, ‘What’s up? How are you seeing this?’” Garrido said. “Go right down the team.”

UT’s three hits were a season low, and the Horns have lost in the past two weekends while scoring zero, one, one and zero runs. It’s never a good sign when the game’s offensive highlight is a walk, even the 11-pitch free pass in which Kacy Clemens celebrated with a fist pump in the fifth inning.

Texas has managed only four runs in 21 innings this weekend and has gotten little punch at the top of the order from Zane Gurwitz (2 for 13) and Bret Boswell (1 for 12).

“We’re not playing offense real well,” Garrido said. “That’s all there is to it. Offense is about scoring runs, and we’re not scoring runs.”

Saturday was the third day in a row a Cal starter flummoxed Texas’ lineup, which, through three weekend series, has been overmatched against quality pitching. Ryan Mason, a 6-foot-6-inch right-hander, allowed just five base runners in his seven innings and had his way with Nos. 4 and 5 hitters Tres Barrera and Michael Cantu, who went 0 for 7 between them.

Mason, who improved to 2-0 and 19-7 in his career, exchanged words with Barrera to end the first after the UT catcher struck out swinging on a change-up.

“Nothing but two good competitors going at it,” Mason said. “That was a big-time out for me. He’s one of their better hitters, if not their best hitter.”

The two faced off again in the sixth, and Barrera again struck out, this time with two runners in scoring position. Cantu (0 for 4) followed with a groundout and is now hitting .167 (6 for 36) on the season. Over his past 23 games dating to last year, Cantu is hitting a dismal .131 (13 for 86).

“His confidence is shaken, but he actually saw the ball better today, and I thought he was a little more relaxed,” Garrido said. “It’s just the fact that we’re trying to get the runs to overcome the other team’s lead. And it does make it more difficult and it does require a higher level of confidence than we’re demonstrating right now.”

For the second day in a row, a fielding mistake by the left fielder led to Cal runs. It happened on the first at-bat when Jake McKenzie took too long to begin his pursuit of Aaron’s Knapp’s shot to the warning track. That resulted in a triple, and Knapp scored on a sacrifice for the first of two runs in the inning.

“We have not had the momentum for one inning this series,” Garrido said. “Pretty dominant.”

On Friday, McKenzie replaced Ben Kennedy in left after Kennedy let a ball drop in for an RBI single in the third. So in other words, UT doesn’t appear to have a good option at that position until Tyler Rand (hand) gets back in a couple of weeks. Garrido said he’s hoping Rand and right fielder Patrick Mathis (hamstring) will be healthy for the start of Big 12 play against TCU on March 24.

“If you are on the field, the easiest thing to play is defense,” Garrido said.

UT’s only error, a wild throw by second baseman Joe Baker, jump-started Cal’s three-run ninth.

Culbreth, the starter, came down to earth a little bit but was still effective after being named Big 12 pitcher of the week for his 12-strikeout effort against Stanford. He scattered six hits over eight innings and gave up a solo home run to Brett Cumberland to lead off the sixth. Culbreth struck out six batters.

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