Ole Miss 8, Texas 1: After 2021's first impression, Horns won't 'feel sorry for ourselves'
Since there are 55 dates on Texas' schedule, three games is a small sample size.
It's hard to ignore the three games that have opened the Longhorns' 2021 season, though. Texas, ranked No. 9 in the country, went 0-3 vs. three ranked SEC teams. After dropping 8-3 and 4-0 losses to No. 7 Mississippi State and No. 8 Arkansas this weekend, Texas was beaten 8-1 by No. 6 Ole Miss on Monday.
The Rebels (3-0) used a four-run sixth inning to break a 1-1 tie at Globe Life Field in Arlington. Three of the Rebels' nine hits were doubles by Peyton Chatagnier, and Trey LaFleur homered in the ninth inning.
"You want to give the crowd a good first impression, and we weren't able to do that," Texas outfielder Eric Kennedy said. "With that being said, we're extremely motivated. This weekend showed us where we need to be if we want to (make it) to Omaha."
Since 1950, Texas has started 0-3 just three times. In 2006, Texas was dealt three losses during a trip to San Diego. Three of the four teams that beat Texas at the beginning of the 2001 season — Rice, Houston and UT-Arlington — made up 75% of the Houston regional that year.
Texas was upended by some heavy hitters this time around. Ahead of this season, Ole Miss was ranked sixth by D1Baseball. The next two slots in that preseason poll were claimed by Mississippi State and Arkansas. Combined, those schools went 39-10 in 2020.
The Longhorns dropped from ninth to 19th in this week's D1baseball poll.
In other words, Texas knew what it was getting into when it accepted the invitation to the College Baseball Showdown. Ahead of the season, UT pitcher Tristan Stevens said these games would "be a good measuring stick to find out where we’re at."
Added shortstop Trey Faltine: "I think that competition, it will show us holes in our game and things we need to get better at. It will show us strengths too."
Faltine was correct on both assertions. There were some bright spots for Texas in Arlington. Against Arkansas on Sunday, Stevens made a case for sticking in UT's weekend rotation. Ivan Melendez and Cam Williams homered in a major league ballpark. Williams and Faltine both had highlight-reel stops on the left side of the infield.
On the flip side, though, Texas never led in any of the three games. The Longhorns were two-hit by Arkansas. They stranded 11 total runners in scoring position over the three games. Eight of the 14 pitchers that made an appearance were tagged with a run.
Then there were the strikeouts.
Texas batters struck out 18 times against Mississippi State, 15 times against Arkansas and 13 times against Ole Miss. The Longhorns last registered double-digit strikeouts in three straight games during a 2017 trip to Stanford. All but two of UT's 27 innings in Arlington featured at least one strikeout. Three strikeouts were recorded in five of those innings.
Eight Longhorns struck out at least four times over the three games. Fittingly, Williams went down swinging in the last at-bat Monday.
"I got a lot of information from this tournament," Texas coach David Pierce said. "I think that's good for us."
Texas won't have long to lick its wounds since a four-game series against BYU is on deck. Since BYU does not play on Sundays, the series at UFCU Disch-Falk Field will begin Wednesday. BYU (1-2) opened its season at Texas State. The Cougars will remain in San Marcos for an additional game on Tuesday.
After the loss to Ole Miss, Kennedy said he preferred a short turnaround following his team's disappointing start. When asked if his players would be given the day off on Tuesday, Pierce assured reporters that the Longhorns would be working out.
"Did we play well? No. Was Arlington an incredible field and kicked our butts? Yes," Pierce said. "We just look at it like that. We're not going to feel sorry for ourselves and I can't wait until we play again."
Around the bases: Sophomore pitcher Kolby Kubichek was credited with Monday's loss. He struck out seven while allowing four hits and two runs over five innings. ... Dalton Porter, a freshman outfielder from Leander, earned his first career start and hit. ... Williams tied the game with a solo shot in the fifth inning. ... The College Baseball Showdown also featured No. 3 Texas Tech and No. 10 TCU. The SEC went 8-1 against the Big 12.