Alex Silver

The pitching is there, but the consistency hasn’t yet shown itself.

Texas needed a win as it entered its big series with Big 12 frontrunner Oklahoma. Despite very solid pitching performances from the Longhorns, the Sooners found a way to escape with two razor-thin victories.

In Game 1, Texas ace Parker French tossed a solid 5 1/3 innings, giving up only two runs, which proved to be the only ones Oklahoma would scratch across home plate. The Texas hitters, however, could only find one run against Jonathan Gray, who struck out eight Longhorns in his 6 2/3 innings of work.

It was the same story for the Longhorns, who had eight hits and nine runners left on base. Mark Payton and Alex Silver, who went 0-3 and 1-4 respectively in the game, each accounted for two of the 12 strikeouts.

Game 2 was won by the Longhorns because of a stellar day on the mound by Dillon Peters, who threw 7 2/3 innings, only allowing two hits and no runs. Big 12 Stopper of the Year Corey Knebel closed out the game with 2 1/3 innings of shutout pitching. The Longhorns only had five hits and one run, but that was enough to secure a win.

Heading into Game 3, the Longhorns needed to score early and prove they could be consistent, and they got that early jump by scoring two runs in the third inning. Texas held a 2-1 lead until the eighth inning when everything collapsed, leading to three runs for the Sooners and another loss in the Big 12 for the Longhorns.

After seven innings of solid work on the mound, the Longhorns gave up another big inning which led to their defeat. At the plate, Texas amassed four hits to eight runners left on base as the three of the team’s leading batters, Payton, Silver and Erich Weiss, went a combined 1-10 in the 4-2 loss.

Texas now sits at 3-6 in the Big 12 entering Tuesday’s game with Texas State, probably wondering how they are going to make it to the College World Series after missing out last year for the first time since 1998.

The Longhorns’ pitching staff has a combined ERA of 2.66, including a 2.51 ERA in Big 12 games. Texas hitters have totaled 251 hits in 30 games, which gives them an average of just over eight per game. With numbers like these, it’s tough to believe they are only 3-6 in the Big 12.

The answer for this problem is simple: Texas can’t find consistency at the plate or on the mound. Texas scores the majority of its runs in the first four frames, but its opponents have scored a combined 31 runs in the seventh and eighth innings alone.

Texas has all the tools to beat any team, and will likely beat Texas State on Tuesday after earning a 5-3 win over them already this season. But Texas cannot continue to fold in the late innings after building a lead with solid pitching.

Texas is currently tied for seventh in the Big 12, and if Weiss, Payton and Silver do not do their part at the plate when the team gets the lead, the Longhorns will be watching the College World Series again from the couch in the dog days of summer.

Junior first baseman Alex Silver has contributed to five double-digit hit games in a six-game stretch this season after making 43 starts last season.   

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

Whoever said that numbers don’t lie wasn’t talking about the Longhorns.

Augie Garrido has built the Texas baseball program on two things: solid defense and sacrificing for the good of the offense. This philosophy has been largely successful under his 17-year tenure as head coach.

As Texas (16-11, 2-4) was set to enter its non-district matchup with Texas A&M-Corpus Christi last night, a game that was postponed, the numbers that bolster this philosophy appeared to tell the whole story. In their previous six games, the Longhorns were hitting .316 as a team with a 4-2 record.

Mark Payton, Erich Weiss and Alex Silver all had batting averages over .400 during the six-game stretch, helping the team post five double-digit hit games in the stretch. However, when taking wins and losses together in the same equation, the Longhorns’ real troubles remain invisible.

In the two losses the Longhorns suffered in their previous six games, both to Oklahoma State, they recorded 21 hits to 22 runners left on base. Silver and Payton, who coincidently have two of the highest batting averages on the team, went a combined 4-15 at the plate in the two losses.

Payton, who has made a habit of leaving runners on base this season, went just 2-9 at the plate in Texas’ two losses to the Cowboys, stranding five runners in the process. Silver, despite not leaving any runners on base, only had two hits in his seven at bats, with no RBIs.

When realizing that Oklahoma State committed six errors as a team in these two victories over Texas, the result becomes even more troubling. While the Longhorns’ pitching did little to help the cause by surrendering a combined seven first-inning runs in the two losses, a failure to convert remained the biggest disappointment for the Longhorns.

It is true that a .316 batting average over six games says a lot about Texas’ ability to get on base. The Longhorns have averaged 5.2 runs per contest during that span, but only three of these games truly mattered to their overall record.

In a 5-3 win over Texas State last Tuesday, Texas recorded 11 hits and stranded nine baserunners. Payton went 3-for-4 in the victory while Silver was 2-for-3 with two RBIs but in the Longhorns’ two losses to Oklahoma State this past weekend, those two players failed to show up when it mattered most.

Texas likely would have won against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, holding a 16-2 all-time record against the team, with 14 of those wins coming at home. But these stats gain credibility because they are mostly wins, not losses. When judging the 4-2 revitalization over the last six games in relation to the season as a whole, the losses should be the first thing seen.

When you look past the batting averages of Payton (.421) and Silver (.348) and look just a bit closer at the numbers, Texas still appears to be an average team despite a dash of momentum.

Junior infielder Erich Weiss slides into base during an earlier game this season against Nebraska on Feb. 23rd. 

Photo Credit: Charlie Pearce | Daily Texan Staff

A day after picking up their first road victory of the season, the Longhorns jumped out to an early lead Sunday and held on to win the rubber game of their series against Minnesota. 

Texas (14-9) recorded double-digit hits for a second straight day to top the Golden Gophers 6-3 in the series finale. Five Longhorns reached base at least twice in the contest, and three had multiple hits.

After taking a quick lead on an Erich Weiss RBI single in the first inning, Texas scored three times in the second to open up a 4-0 score. Alex Silver scored on Ben Johnson’s first career triple to jump-start the rally, and Jacob Felts and Weston Hall each had an RBI in the frame.

The Longhorns would add a pair of runs in the fourth inning, with the big blow being an RBI double off Hall’s bat. The junior center fielder finished the game three for five with a pair of RBIs and a run scored.

Nathan Thornhill had a strong start for Texas to improve his record to 2-2. The right-hander allowed three runs in six innings of work and struck out five batters.

Thornhill held the Golden Gophers scoreless though the first six innings before loading the bases without registering an out in the seventh. Relievers Ty Culbreth and Ty Marlow combined to allow each of the inherited runners to score but limited the damage to three runs. Corey Knebel pitched a pair of scoreless innings to pick up his fourth save of the year and nail down the win for Texas.

Mark Payton had two hits on the day to extend his hit streak to 12 games. The junior right fielder went six for 13 over the weekend to boost his season average to .415.

After Sunday’s game, head coach Augie Garrido said he was pleased with his team’s offensive output and he hopes the lineup would continue being productive.

“I want to see how we bounce back on top of some of the fundamentals of our offense and continue to make productive outs,” Garrido said. “We just want to see if we can keep the same level of intensity.”

The Longhorns dropped the first game of the series Friday 5-1 as Minnesota starter Tom Windle struck out 12 batters in a complete game performance. Texas would rebound with a 5-4 extra innings victory Saturday, with the big hit being a go ahead RBI single by Alex Silver in the 10th inning.  

The Longhorns will look to extend their win streak to three on Tuesday as they return home to host Texas State. The game is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. at UFCU Disch-Falk Field.

Published on March 25, 2013 as "Horns clinch first road victory of year". 

The Longhorns came close. But they weren't playing horseshoes or tossing hand grenades.

Sophomore right fielder Mark Payton, who drove in Texas' only run of the game in the second inning, came a few feet from hitting a go-ahead home run in the eighth inning. Meanwhile, junior pitcher Hoby Milner's wild pitch with two outs and two strikes in the seventh inning allowed Oklahoma State to score the game-tying run. After the Cowboys (18-14, 5-5) scored twice off sophomore closer Corey Knebel in the 11th inning, they were able to knock off the No. 23 Longhorns (18-13, 7-3), 3-1, in their series opener Friday night at UFCU Disch-Falk Field.

Knebel, who threw 109 pitches in 6 2/3 innings of work in his last outing this past weekend against Texas Tech, got the final two outs of the eighth innings before tossing scoreless innings in the 9th and 10th. But the Cowboys knocked Knebel for three hits and the decisive two runs in the 11th. Texas head coach Augie Garrido admitted after the game that Knebel's outings have been too long this season.

"I just wish they would make their mind up if I'm going to be a reliever or closer," Knebel said. "I want to be a starter but I also like closing it out."

After Oklahoma State took its first lead with those two runs, Texas nearly responded with multiple runs in the home half of the 11th. Freshman center fielder Taylor Stell was beaned to lead off the frame before Weiss walked and Silver was also hit with a pitch. But with the bases loaded and one out, sophomore catcher Jacob Felts struck out swinging and senior shortstop Jordan Etier grounded out to second after nearly winning the game with a walk-off double down the right field line that was called foul.

"What separated the two teams was clutch hitting," Garrido said. "They got two hits with runners in scoring position and we didn't. The inability to play catch with an 0-2 count kept them in the game."

After allowing just two baserunners through his first six innings, sophomore Nathan Thornhill ran into some trouble in the seventh. Thornhill gave up a leadoff single, the first time the Cowboys put their leadoff batter on base, and issued his first walk of the night two batters later. Texas seemed like it would get out of the jam after Payton threw out Oklahoma State junior second baseman Robbie Rea at the plate on a single from senior first baseman Gabe Weidenaar.

But, immediately after replacing Thornhill with two outs and runners on the corners, Milner bounced a ball well short of the plate. The pitch got past Felts as junior right fielder Trey Whaley trotted home for the Cowboys' first run of the day, tying the game at 1-1.

Payton, who extended his streak of consecutive games reaching base to 32 by shooting an RBI double through the legs of Oklahoma State senior shortstop Hunter Bailey, nearly took the lead right back. With one out in the eighth inning, Payton lifted a ball into left field and the wind-aided drive bounced off the top of the left field wall. Payton settled for a double but was stranded on second base after Stell struck out swinging and sophomore third baseman Erich Weiss grounded out.

Junior southpaw Andrew Heaney, like Thornhill, was stuck with a no-decision despite a stellar outing. Heaney threw nine innings while scattering six hits and allowing only one run, striking out nine, and walking one. He fooled hitters like Weiss, who was hitting .464 over his last 16 games before this series, as he went 1-for-4. Sophomore first baseman Alex Silver saw his 16-game hitting streak snapped with an 0-for-3 performance.

The Longhorns will end the series with the Cowboys Saturday with a double-header scheduled to start 1:00 p.m. Both games will be nine innings long, with a 30-minute break between contests.

Sophomore third baseman Erich Weiss is hitting .464 with 24 runs and 18 RBI in his last 16 games after going just 5-for-28 at the plate in his first eight. Weiss now leads the Longhorns with a .370 batting average, a .469 on-base percentage, and a .588 slugging percentage. (Daily Texan File Photo)

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

Not many people had a better start to their college baseball career than Erich Weiss.

The third baseman from Brenham went on a ridiculous tear to begin his freshman season, getting hits in each of his first five at-bats and going 9-for-11 with six runs and 7 RBI in his first four games as a Longhorn. But Weiss didn’t get off to the scorching start in his sophomore season that he did in his first year at Texas. In the Longhorns’ first eight games this season, of which they won only three, Weiss hit .179 (5-for-28) while scoring three times and driving in three runs.

“At the beginning of the year, I was pressing a lot,” Weiss admitted. “I was swinging at some bad pitches in the dirt and stuff I couldn’t hit just because I was trying to get a hit and pressing when all you really have to do is see the ball and know whether or not it’s going to be a ball or strike when it crosses the plate.”

Weiss has since returned to the torrid pace he was at in his first few career games. In his last 16 games, Weiss has batted .464 and has scored 24 runs, racked up 18 RBI, and has drawn 10 walks while the Longhorns have gone 12-4 over that stretch. By comparison, Texas was 6-8 in its first 14 contests, a stretch that saw Weiss hit just .240 with six runs, three RBI, and six walks. Facing a locked-in Weiss doesn’t bode well for Oklahoma State (17-14, 4-5) as No. 25 Texas (18-12, 7-2) begins a three-game home series against the Cowboys at 6:00 p.m. at UFCU Disch-Falk Field Friday evening.

“I told myself at the beginning of the year, because I wasn’t doing too hot, to keep looking forward and keep running everything out, keep hitting the ball hard and it’ll find holes,” Weiss said. “And it has, for all of us. We’re all hitting very well right now.”

As tremendous as Weiss has been over the last month, he’s been particularly good over the last week. The sophomore third baseman earned Big 12 Player of the Week honors after going 10-for-17 in Lubbock last weekend against Texas Tech. The Longhorns won two of three games from the Red Raiders with the only loss being a one-run, 14-inning defeat Saturday. Texas went on to beat Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, 9-2, Tuesday night as Weiss went 3-for-4 with 3 RBI. He’s batting .619 in his last four games.

“We had a little joke this past weekend that we wanted to get 10 hits between both of us, and he got the 10 hits by himself,” said sophomore first baseman Alex Silver, who is currently riding a 16-game hitting streak. “This is the Erich Weiss that I knew last year. He started a little slow. But it’s just one of those things where he gets so locked-in that nobody can get him out. It’s unreal watching him play.”

Weiss is now reminding his teammates of the way he played last season, when he led the Longhorns with a .348 batting average, 45 RBI, a .483 on-base percentage and a whopping .518 slugging percentage. So far this year, Weiss has regained his place as the squad’s leading hitter as the 6-foot-3, 190-pounder has team-high marks in batting average (.370), on-base percentage (.469) and slugging percentage (.588). Only Brooks Marlow’s 22 RBI top the 21 runs Weiss has driven in.

“I’m in a zone right now,” Weiss said. “I feel comfortable right now. Whenever the ball comes across the plate, I’m going to hit it hard.”

Texas has not had a hitter post a better batting average than Weiss’ current .370 mark since Chance Wheeliss batted .376 in 2007. And if Weiss maintains the same pace over the final 20 regular season games that he was maintained in his last 16, he’ll become the first Texas hitter to bat better than .400 in a decade, when another Brenham native, outfielder Dustin Majewski, batted .401 in 2002. But someone thinks Weiss could do even better.

“He might end up batting .500. Who knows?” said sophomore right fielder Mark Payton, who has had an impressive year at the plate in his own right, reaching base in each of the Longhorns’ 30 games this season. “It’s his time right now and we know this is who he was last year. And we knew it was inside of him. He’s a great player and a great hitter. We’re excited to see what he’s going to do this weekend.”

Printed on Friday, April 13, 2012 as: White-hot Weiss overcomes slow start

Eric Weiss hit a two-run home run on Sunday putting Texas up 4-1 over Kansas State. He went 3-4 with two home runs and a triple.

Photo Credit: Ryan Edwards | Daily Texan Staff

It didn’t come easy, but the Longhorns won another series this past weekend.

No. 22 Texas (13-9, 5-1) took two of three games from Kansas State (13-10, 2-4), capping off the series with an 8-5 victory in Manhattan, Kan. Sunday afternoon. The Wildcats captured the series opener, 5-2, and led by two runs going into the eighth inning of the next contest but the Longhorns triumphed in extra innings Saturday before taking the rubber match the following day. They have won seven of their last eight games.

Texas pounded out 30 hits in the final two games of the series, both wins. Junior left fielder Jonathan Walsh, senior shortstop Jordan Etier, sophomore third baseman Erich Weiss and sophomore first baseman Alex Silver combined to account 13 of the Longhorns’ 16 hits Sunday while scoring and driving in all eight of their runs. Walsh had a game-high four hits while Weiss tripled once and homered twice.

Walsh, who returned from a thumb injury he suffered during this past weekend’s sweep of Oklahoma that kept him out last Tuesday’s win over Stephen F. Austin, proved why he’s become a mainstay at the cleanup spot in the lineup. He went 9-for-15 at the plate with three runs and 5 RBI against Kansas State. After a 4-for-5 performance in his most recent contest, Walsh has replaced sophomore right fielder Mark Payton as the team’s leading hitter as he currently boasts a .387 batting average.

But things did not start out well for Texas in this series. The Longhorns dropped their game in Big 12 play Friday and trailed entering the final stages of Saturday’s contest. Down 4-2 in the eighth inning, Weiss started the frame by getting hit with a pitch and Walsh followed with a single. Silver laid down a sacrifice bunt that advanced them to second and third base. Weiss crossed the plate after a balk by Kansas State to trim the deficit to 4-3 and Walsh scored the tying run on a single from freshman second baseman
Brooks Marlow.

Weiss and Walsh each chipped in an RBI single in the decisive 11th inning before sophomore closer Corey Knebel completed his four-inning outing by retiring the Wildcats in order in the bottom half of the frame. Knebel did not allow a run in five innings of work during the series. With the 6-4 victory Saturday, the Longhorns improved to 4-0 in extra-inning games this season.

Knebel fared better than Texas’ starting pitchers on the weekend, none of whom made it through the sixth inning. Sophomore Nathan Thornhill, freshman Parker French and freshman Ricky Jacquez combined to surrender 20 hits and 11 runs in 13.2 innings of work. Thornhill was saddled with the loss in Friday’s defeat, while junior Hoby Milner (4-3) and Knebel (2-0) picked up wins in the games Jacquez and French started, respectively.

Printed on Monday, March 26, 2012 as: Longhorns win series, continue to improve

Johnathan Walsh had two hits during TexasÂ’ win over Houston Baptist on Tuesday. He started the seventh inning off with a single that led to the first run of the game. Texas sent seven batters to the plate in the seventh inning. The offensive surge was enough to get the win.

Photo Credit: Rebeca Rodriguez | Daily Texan Staff

It’s hard to lose when you don’t let the other team score.

The Longhorns found this out in a 2-0 win over Houston Baptist Tuesday night, their first victory since opening day. Texas ended a five-game losing streak with the win despite not advancing a baserunner past second base through the first six innings. But a seventh-inning rally produced the only two runs scored by either team and propelled the Longhorns to their first triumph since sweeping Duke in a season-opening doubleheader Feb. 18.

“We’ve taken on some water but we haven’t sunk,” said Texas head coach Augie Garrido. “What I asked the team to do today is come out and play this game like you’re at practice. Most of them did fine. They did much better than they have recently.”

Texas sent seven batters to the plate in the crucial seventh inning, four of whom reached base despite the Longhorns only reaching base five times in the previous six frames. Junior left fielder Jonathan Walsh led the inning off with a single and advanced to second base on freshman second baseman Brooks Marlow’s sacrifice bunt.

Sophomore designated hitter Alex Silver also singled to put runners on the corners with one out. Then, pinch hitter Kevin Lusson’s safety squeeze allowed Walsh to cross the plate and score the first run of the contest. After sophomore catcher Jacob Felts singled to load the bases, senior shortstop Jordan Etier drove Silver in with a sacrifice fly.

“I think they have a survivor’s instinct,” Garrido said. “They don’t want to lose. They try harder. They compete more. It’s instinctive at that point.”

Before the seventh inning, Texas was an abysmal 9-for-65 (.138) with runners in scoring position on the year. Felts notched a base hit with runners on first and second in the seventh frame, but before those pivotal runs were scored, the Longhorns had registered only three singles through the first six innings.

Texas got its leadoff batter on base in the third and sixth innings but couldn’t score either time, including when sophomore third baseman Erich Weiss lined out to the pitcher, who doubled off sophomore right fielder Mark Payton at second base to end the inning. Silver also grounded into a double play to end a fourth-inning threat.

Texas used six different pitchers — senior Austin Dicharry (two innings), sophomore Nathan Thornhill (one inning), freshman John Curtiss (one inning), junior Hoby Milner (two innings), freshman Parker French (two innings) and sophomore Corey Knebel (one inning) — to get the win. French earned the first win of his college career while Knebel picked up his third save of the season.

“When everyone’s pitching one or two innings, it’s hard on the pitchers. For them to give up no runs like that, it’s awesome,” said senior center fielder Tim Maitland.

Defensively, Texas had struggled coming into this week, making two errors in four consecutive contests­ ­— all losses — at one point. The Longhorns committed two more errors against Houston Baptist Tuesday, both by sophomore first baseman Kirby Bellow, but easily overcame them. Dicharry retired the next two batters after Bellow mishandled a pickoff attempt to end the second inning, and Milner ended the sixth inning following Bellow’s second error of the game.
It wasn’t pretty, but after losing five straight, including three in a row to Stanford (a team that Texas beat twice in three contests last season and swept the year before), the Longhorns will take a win any way they can.

Printed on Wednesday, February 29, 2012 as: Longhorns end losing streak with shutout

Texas wanted to avoid a slump after its four-run ninth inning rally fell short on Saturday in Waco. The Longhorns did just that Sunday, beating Baylor 5-2 at Disch-Falk Field to take the series 2-1.

“After last night, what you’ll see many times is the team will show up flat. It’s depressing to come that close and miss the win,” said Texas head coach Augie Garrido. “Today, my concerns were that we would come out flat, but we didn’t do that.”

Cole Green struck out eight in six innings and was as dominate as he’s been all season with his slider. But after striking out the side to begin the game, he hit a batter and walked another in the second, leading to Landis Ware’s two-RBI single that put the Bears up 2-0.

“It’s just one of those things you’ve got to deal with,” Green said. “Coach Garrido talks about going one inning at a time, and that’s kind of what I did.”

The senior didn’t allow a hit after the second inning, and only four Bears got on base during the game.

“Having the ability to turn that around made the difference in the game, because it allowed us the time we needed to get going offensively,” Garrido said.

Erich Weiss put Texas on the board in the fifth with an RBI single that scored Jacob Felts, who had gotten on base with a single of his own. Tant Shepherd continued his hot hitting with a two-RBI double in the seventh that put the Longhorns up for good.

Third baseman Alex Silver started his first home game of the season, after being diagnosed with stage 1 Hodgkin’s lymphoma in January. Silver went 1-for-4 with an RBI.

“I don’t know that I can put this into the right perspective,” Garrido said. “I don’t know how to compare a life-threatening experience to handling it the way he handled it. It’s remarkable and a true testament to the human spirit.”

Silver practiced with the team the past couple of months in between cancer treatments in Houston. The freshman played in his first game of the year last Tuesday and started in Waco on Saturday.

“When they told me I’d need three months of treatment, I tried to stay in shape as much as I could,” Silver said. “Yesterday, Coach asked me how I was feeling, and I told him I was almost 100 percent. I was surprised at how fast I recovered.”

His teammates are just as surprised as he is but are perhaps even more excited to have him on the field.

“It’s something we didn’t really think we were going to see this year,” said Brandon Loy. “When we first found out, it was really a tough feeling for us. To see him out there is really exciting, and he hasn’t skipped a beat it seems like to me. Obviously, it didn’t phase him.”