A traffic jam developed at 10 p.m. Tuesday night just northwest of UFCU Disch-Falk Field on Interstate 35 with flashing police lights and a long line of cars, overlooking the wreck that is the 2016 Longhorns baseball season.
Inside the Disch, the lights were on but the field was empty. It had been an hour since Texas’ 3-2 loss to Texas State, dropping the Longhorns to 21-28 and snapping the Bobcats’ 24-game losing streak to Texas. The last time Texas State had beaten Texas was in 2005, the year the Longhorns went on to win their last national championship.
It’s fair to say Texas might not win the national championship this year. The Longhorns might not even make the Big 12 tournament, let alone the NCAA Tournament.
“We didn’t score enough runs to cover our mistakes,” coach Augie Garrido said.
Tuesday night was another disappointment in a season that’s been overwhelmed with them. Texas committed three errors, relinquished a 2-1 lead in the top of the seventh inning and then trailed 3-2 in the top of the eighth. The Longhorns didn’t even have a chance at a rally — they went down in order in the eighth, and every batter struck out in the ninth.
Texas has only three regular-season games left, a home series against Baylor that starts Thursday night.
“I’m disappointed for the fans,” Garrido said. “I’m disappointed for the university athletic department. I’m disappointed in all of the people that this hurts, because our fans are passionate and the people that support this program are passionate.”
The Horns went five straight innings in which their lead-off hitter struck out. For “Augie Ball” to work, Texas needs base runners.
“When you don’t get that leadoff hitter on, in the way we like to play, it becomes very expensive and it limits the run scoring,” Garrido said.
Three of those five leadoff strikeouts came on full counts.
“We also went to 3-2 several times, and we struck ourselves out on ball four,” he said. “So the problem it caused was not having enough runs.”
Texas State scored first — on the second pitch of the game. Jonathan Ortega, who had been 0-for-8 against Texas this season, hammered UT starter Connor Mayes’ second pitch over the left field wall.
The Longhorns retook the lead in the second, loading the bases with one out before Tyler Rand’s roped double to the gap in right field scored two runs.
Texas used seven pitchers. Mayes lasted only two innings; then came Eric Dunbar, Nick Kennedy, Beau Ridgeway and Nolan Kingham.
Kingham got into a slight jam in the seventh, when Texas State got a runner on third base with two outs. Parker Joe Robinson came in to replace Kingham, Robinson’s first appearance since the Stanford series. He surrendered an RBI single to Mickey Scott on his first pitch, tying the game 2-2.
Then back-to-back errors led to the Bobcats’ third run. Granger Studdard singled and advanced to second when Chase Shugart’s pickoff attempt got past first baseman Kacy Clemens. Studdard then made it 3-2 when Patrick Mathis fumbled Tanner Hill’s single to left.
The Longhorns have struggled defensively all season. Texas’ fielding percentage of .965 ranks 192nd out of 295 teams nationally.
“It’s been way too consistent,” Garrido said, “and we had hope for a solution because we’ve always had strong pitching and good defense, and that has been an ongoing problem.”