Cohl Walla

Texas announced Friday that junior outfielder Cohl Walla has been dismissed from the baseball team for an undisclosed violation of team rules.

Walla, a local product from Lake Travis, batted .316 with eight home runs and 40 RBIs during a promising freshman season in 2010. He stole 14 bases and was named a Freshman All-American by Baseball America that year, but battled injuries throughout the rest of his Longhorns career and missed all of last season with a torn ACL.

“We are extremely disappointed in the release of Cohl,” Texas head coach Augie Garrido said in a statement. “We see him as an exceptional athlete and it’s disappointing that we didn’t do more to help him stay focused in order to reach his full potential."

Walla was hitless in four at-bats and drew two walks this season. As a sophomore in 2011, he hit just .229 with 18 RBIs and no home runs.

"We are proud of the fact that he is going to graduate from The University of Texas and will do everything in our power to help him sign a professional contract," Garrido said.

Just about everything that could have gone wrong for Texas last year did go wrong. 

Ace Sam Stafford was lost for the season before it began. So was leadoff hitter and center fielder Cohl Walla. Parker French, John Curtiss and Taylor Stell also suffered season-ending injuries. Without them, the Longhorns did not reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1998. 

“Was it Murphy, the Irish guy, that they named a law after?” head coach Augie Garrido asked. “Murphy’s law? Boy, does that suck. That’s what happened. That was it.”

For the second straight year, Texas has lost a likely member of its rotation before its season opener. Curtiss underwent Tommy John surgery over the offseason and won’t pitch again until 2014. But other than a recent Mark Payton concussion that shouldn’t keep him from missing any games, the Longhorns are relatively healthy. 

If they want to bounce back from last year’s 30-22 debacle, they’ll have to stay that way. 

That starts with their starting rotation, which will be led by sophomore Parker French. He started his freshman season a year ago as a middle reliever and earned a spot in the weekend rotation before becoming the team’s ace Friday night starting pitcher.

French gave up one run on one hit in four and one-third innings of a 6-4 win over Missouri last May, his first start in the new role, before discovering he had suffered a stress fracture in his right elbow. His season was over. 

“I think I had a renewed sense of what baseball meant to me, what kind of work ethic I need to bring,” French said. “I just realized that this game can be taken away from you at any moment. Thankfully, I’ll be out there again. That’s one of my goals this year, to get through the whole year healthy.”

If Texas is going to have a chance at returning to Omaha for the College World Series, that’s a goal that all of French’s teammates will have to meet. Walla, who batted .316 with eight home runs, 40 RBIs and 14 stolen bases as a freshman in 2010, has not been the same since. A knee injury cut his sophomore season short and a torn ACL before his junior year kept him out for all of the 2012 campaign.

Walla will come back this year, but won’t start the season in the outfield. When he does return, it could be as a designated hitter before he makes a full-fledged return as an everyday player. 

“He’s not up to form,” Garrido said. “He’s running a little bit, wearing a brace. He’ll be OK. I know anything’s possible, so I know he can [return to his freshman form]. He’s done a good job with the rehab. He’s certainly competing for a job.” 

The Longhorns are better than they were last year, but not good enough to overcome another series of season-ending injuries. As long as they stay healthy, they could find themselves in Omaha in a few months.

Texas head baseball coach Augie grrido looks on during a practice as the Longhorns prepare for their season opener today against Duke. Garrido, the NCAA Division I all-time leader in wins, has led Texas to the College World Series seven times in his 15 seasons.

The Daily Texan: How will your team adjust to losing Sam Stafford and Cohl Walla for the year?

Augie Garrido: We have two of our star players from last year that will be out for the season. This is always a big blow for any team, but less of a blow for college players than for professional players because professional players are so experienced at what they’re doing — you can predict pretty well their performances for the year. It’s not like that with the college player. The college player will have a very poor year and a great year, or a great year and a very poor year. The lack of experience with either being highly successful or failing miserably affects the next opportunity they have. With that said, we are extremely disappointed in the fact that we’ve lost a high number of quality innings from Sam Stafford and we’ve lost a leadoff hitter and center fielder that is one of the best in the conference. So one year a long time ago at Fullerton, we had seven outfielders and I told the seventh outfielder after the first semester that he should transfer because he was a good ballplayer but we had six guys ahead of him and he wasn’t going to play. Injuries, as always, came into the picture and he ended being the starting right fielder as conference started. At the end of the conference, he was the MVP of the conference — not of the team — of the conference. So I’ve given up on being able to predict the performances of college baseball players.

DT: Nathan Thornhill mostly came out of the bull pen last season. What did you see from him that made you decide to make him the Friday starter?

Garrido: How he came out of the bull pen last year. He has a leadership personality. He has the courage and confidence to take the risk to throw a fastball over the plate on the first pitch after the opposing team’s hit a home run. And he’s done all of that over and over again. So that’s what we’re looking for from all of our pitchers. They really can’t strike everybody out. They really can’t control the hitter. But they can make quality pitches no matter what happens to them on the pitch before the next one. And he does that.

DT: What do you expect from Hoby Milner this year?
Garrido: [Thornhill and Milner] very much alike. One’s right-handed and one’s left-handed. They pretty much have the same velocity on their fastball, the same style of pitching using the fastball on both sides of the plate, a bit of a breaking ball and use of a changeup.

DT: Are Hoby and Thornhill going to be 1A and 1B this year?

Garrido: You don’t know for the whole year. We play the whole season week by week. We take one week at a time for every player. For the position players, it’s usually four games. For the pitchers it’s usually one game. In this game, it’s a game of falls and recoveries. So we’re not concerned with one fall unless it’s connected to attitude where they quit. Then we’re putting them back on the mound. With the lineup we’re not going to have somebody have a bad game and then jerk them out of the lineup. We take the season week by week, evaluate the performances at the end of the week and start over a brand new season. That’s the way we keep our stats, too. We start over every week. It’s too long of a season to try to predict or set numerical goals like winning 20 games or whatever it is. Go play. Have fun with it.

DT: After losing upperclassmen like Sam Stafford and Cohl Walla, do you see some of the sophomores that had big seasons as freshmen stepping up into leadership roles this season?

Garrido: We had five freshmen players that were key players on last year’s team. All of them have very fine leadership qualities. So they are stepping into that role and doing a good job with that.

DT: What’s it like having Jordan Etier back on the team after he was kicked off the team for his arrest for marijuana possession and evading arrest?

Garrido: Baseball-wise, he’s always been fine. On the field, he’s always hustled. He’s always tried his hardest. He’s always done his best. He’s always been an inspiration to his teammates. It’s been some of his choices off the field that led that. I think that he has been given an opportunity and he recognizes that it’s a life-changing opportunity. He was facing not being able to graduate from the University of Texas and not being able to play on the baseball team — both very important things. Now, he’s been given that opportunity back. Now he has a different view and not taking very many things for granted. He’s making better choices off the field. He’s in a structured environment in his home life now. He’s more detailed and is making better choices in what he does and how he does it and when he does it. I think he’s very excited about the opportunity to control his own life.

DT: What do you think your chances are to get back to Omaha and play in the College World Series again this season?

Garrido: It’s way too early to tell. The opportunity to go there is reasonable and realistic for us to know that we can. It’s just how consistently we can play a game of baseball. How consistently can we play an inning of baseball? How well can we play catch?
How often?

DT: Does Duke have half as good of a baseball team as it does a basketball team?

Garrido: No, they have more guys. If they come out here and play basketball, we’re going to beat them. They’ll only have five guys on the field.

Outfielder Cohl Walla swings at a pitch. Walla tore his ACL in a collision during practice last week and isn’t expected to play this season. He hit .229 last season.

Photo Credit: John Smith | Daily Texan Staff

Junior outfielder Cohl Walla has torn his ACL and will miss this upcoming season.

The injury took place during a collision in the outfield during a practice last week.

Walla played in 50 games last season, batting .229 and notching 18 RBI. The former two-sport star at Lake Travis enjoyed a much better freshman campaign, hitting .316 while racking up eight home runs, 20 extra-base hits, 14 stolen bases and posting a .491 slugging percentage.

Walla earned a spot on Baseball America's second-team freshman All-American team in 2010 and checked in at No. 65 on College Baseball Daily's preseason list of 2011 Top 100 college baseball players, joining teammates Taylor Jungmann and Cole Green.

The Longhorns were set to bring back all three of their starting outfielders with sophomore right fielder Mark Payton and junior left fielder Jonathan Walsh returning to Austin this year. The vacancy in center field could be filled by a few players. Senior outfielder Tim Maitland, who has been used as a defensive replacement most of his first three years at Texas, has batted .190, driven in nine runs and registered one extra-base hit in 79 career at-bats.

Two new players could also fill the void left by Walla in freshman Collin Shaw and junior college transfer Matt Moynihan, who has two years of eligibility left but has not yet been cleared academically. Shaw, like Walla, is a local product who lettered in both football and baseball in high school.

The 6-foot, 195-pound Shaw batted .487 and hit seven home runs as a senior for Westlake, earning him second-team All-State honors while garnering All-District accolades as a wide receiver for the Chaparrals during his junior and senior seasons. Walla, who was taken in the 43rd round by the Washington Nationals after graduating from Lake Travis was also a high school wideout. He caught 65 passes for 1,009 yards and 12 touchdowns — from former Longhorn quarterback Garrett Gilbert ­— during the Cavaliers' 2007 state title run, the first of five consecutive championships.

Printed on Monday, February 6, 2012 as: Walla likely to miss season with knee injury

Sam Stafford gets ready to deliver a pitch Sunday at Disch Falk Field against Oklahoma. Stafford had a sub par performance in the game and was pulled from the game in the fourth inning.

Photo Credit: Corey Leamon | Daily Texan Staff

Texas failed to close out the sweep of Oklahoma on Sunday, falling 5-2 to the Sooners at UFCU Disch-Falk Field. Tant Shepherd hit a solo home run in the fourth inning and Cohl Walla added another run in the ninth with a RBI single, but it was too little, too late for the Longhorns.

“You saw a difference in performance in the bottom of the ninth inning,” Texas head coach Augie Garrido said. “We violated the inning-by-inning concept. We let them get the momentum, and we never fought hard to get it back until the ninth inning, when you saw a different quality of at-bat.”

Sam Stafford started for Texas (33-11, 15-6 Big 12) but lasted only 3.2 innings. He allowed the leadoff runner on in the first three innings and picked up his second loss of the season.

Cale Ellis led of the third inning with a single for Oklahoma, and consecutive sac-bunts moved him to third base. Then Tyler Ogle slapped a double to right field that scored Ellis.

“I left it up in the strike zone, and he did his job with that RBI double, which was big,” Stafford said.

Garrett Buechele then hit a line drive directly at shortstop Brandon Loy, but Loy tried to backhand the ball and misplayed it for an error, which scored Ogle from second base to put Oklahoma up 2-0.

“He makes that play 99 out of a 100 times,” Stafford said.

Shepherd’s third home run of the season cut into the Sooners’ lead an inning later, but the Longhorns were, for the most part, stagnant on offense. Jonathan Walsh had runners on first and second in the fourth inning but grounded into a double play. He was up again in the sixth with the bases loaded and a full count but swung at pitch out of the zone to strike out and end the inning.

“That was terrible,” Walsh said. “It was definitely a ball, it wasn’t even close. I can’t do that in that situation.”

The Longhorns left eight runners on base, five of which were in scoring position. Texas didn’t get a leadoff runner on base until the ninth inning, when Paul Montalbano walked. Walla lined a single up the middle two batters later, but it wasn’t enough.

“We competed differently in the ninth inning than we did in innings one through eight, and if we can recognize that and get back on the competitive platform to be consistent, then it’s worth a loss,” Garrido said. “If we just blow it off and start making excuses, that’s when we’ll have a problem.”

Though they lost the final game, the fact that they won the series was not lost on the Longhorns. The two wins move them into a tie with Texas A&M for first place in the conference, with only six conference games remaining.

It took them extra innings, but the Longhorns were able to pick up their second conference win of the season, a 4-3 nail-biter over Kansas State at Disch-Falk Field.

With the game tied heading into the bottom of the 10th inning, freshman Erich Weiss hit a double to right field, then advanced to third on a Lucas Kephart ground out. The Wildcats then elected to intentionally walk both Cohl Walla and Jacob Felts, putting them in a position defensively to get an inning-ending double play with a force at any base. Tant Shepherd struck out for Texas’ next at-bat, and head coach Augie Garrido called upon senior Kevin Lusson to pinch-hit with two outs.

But Lusson wouldn’t have to do much hitting, or swinging for that matter.

He just watched and waited as Kansas State’s Gerardo Esquivel threw him three straight balls, took one strike for good measure, and then watched the fourth and decisive Esquivel ball go by him for the game ending walk-off walk.

“It’s the long walk home,” Texas head coach Augie Garrido said. “Our guys just had to stand there and watch the ball go by.”

An RBI walk was how the Longhorns scored the tying run in the ninth inning as well, when Tim Maitland drew a walk to score Walla. The Wildcat pitchers struggled with their control, collectively walking eight batters in the game, and Garrido has a guess as to why they were so rattled on the mound.

“This is a game where the fans play a huge part. The home field advantage was very evident because unlike football or basketball players, baseball players are not use to playing in this environment,” he said. “You take young players and put them in different environments it has a huge effect on them.”

The Longhorns pushed the first run of the game across in the second inning with Kephart scoring an unearned run after a Wildcat throwing error.

Kansas State would take the scoring advantage the next inning, touching up Texas starter Hoby Milner for three runs. Milner settled down though, going four more innings without allowing another run. The sophomore lefty finished his day after the seventh inning, allowing those three runs and just five hits to go with six strikeouts.

“I felt like I could have kept going,” Milner said. “I did throw 102 pitches and since it was my second start in a while they didn’t want to push me any farther. I felt fine, but that third inning killed my pitch count.”

After Kirby Bellow and Kendal Carrillo patched together two innings of relief after Milner, freshman Corey Knebel came on in the tenth and picked up win.

The Longhorns (14-5, 2-0 Big 12) will go for the series sweep tomorrow against the Wildcats (12-6, 0-2) at 1 p.m., with senior Cole Green expected to get the start on the mound.

Series finales against top-10 teams are rarely this easy.

The sixth-ranked Longhorns (7-4) made a 4-2 win over No. 9 Stanford (6-5) look simple, playing the entirety of the game with a lead and capitalizing on blunders to grab the weekend series from the visiting Cardinal 2-1.

Junior lefty Sam Stafford (2-0) breezed through the first half of the game, striking out seven batters in five innings of work. When fatigue and the Stanford batters finally started hitting Stafford — rendering a bases-loaded situation in the top of the sixth — senior reliever Kendal Carrillo offered some help, striking out Stanford’s dangerous Brian Ragira, who was 3-for-4 on the day, and inducing a groundout to end the inning.

“I got into a little bit of trouble in the sixth inning, so it was nice for Kendal to come in and bail me out,” Stafford said. “The pitching hhstaff has never had any questions about our bullpen.”

The Texas bullpen came up big towards the end of the game, but its offense set the tone Sunday, plating an early run in the second when sophomore Cohl Walla scored off a wild pitch with two outs. It was a sign of things to come, as Walla would be the recipient of many a Stanford gaffe.

With one out in the sixth inning, Walla stroked a lazy fly ball to center field, where it looked like it would be caught for the second out. Stanford’s Jake Stewart lost it in the sun, and the ball fell harmlessly to the turf. The speedy Walla was already on his way to second — a coach’s example to always run out the play, no matter how routine it might be — and turned what looked like harmless fly ball into a triple.

“I was rounding first, and I took a look at the outfielders, and they just looked kind of clueless so I just kept running hard,” he said.

From third, Walla would score on a passed ball — another easy run for Texas.

“A couple pitches got away from them,” he said. “I just ran down there and beat them to home both times.”

A day after a 9-2 Saturday loss to Stanford in which their bats were quiet throughout, the Longhorns made a point to jump out to a quick lead Sunday.

“You can see what the four-run lead did, it relaxes the hitters,” said head coach Augie Garrido. “When you have big leads, that’s when these kids relax and play better defense.”

Junior shortstop Brandon Loy was also key to the lead, going 2-for-4 with a fifth-inning RBI.

“We have to come out and get runs early,” Loy said. “There were definitely a few more opportunities we had where we could have scratched out a couple more, and that’s something we have to continue working on.”

Things would get a bit unnerving in the top of the eighth inning when Stanford pushed two runs across, but freshman Corey Knebel came out of the bullpen and silenced the Cardinal comeback hopes. Needing just one more out with a man on first in the top of the ninth, Knebel got Stephen Piscotty to hit a high, lazy fly ball to center field, where it would fall into Walla’s glove for an appropriately easy final out.


Their weekend wasn’t perfect, but the No. 6 Longhorns (3-1) saved their best for last in a 16-0 defeat over Maryland (1-3), in the final game of the season-opening series Sunday afternoon at UFCU Disch-Falk Field.

Texas jumped out on the Terrapins’ Brady Kirkpatrick in the first inning, scoring six quick runs and setting the pace for the rest of the day. After a sequence of bunt singles, walks and a few Maryland errors that brought the score to 3-0, sophomore Cohl Walla came to the plate with the bases loaded and a chance to deliver an early kill shot. Walla drilled a fastball down the left field line for a double, clearing the bases and giving the Longhorns a 6-0 advantage.

“My approach at the plate in that situation is not to get too big,” Walla said. “Guys try to do too much when the bases are loaded, so I try to keep the same approach. It felt good to get that hit.”

The scoring didn’t stop there. The Longhorns kept piling on; adding runs in the second, third, fifth, sixth and seventh innings.
“It was a very dominating game,” said Texas head coach Augie Garrido. “The hitters are more relaxed when they’re ahead like that. It just makes the game a lot easier to play.”

Despite the 16 runs scored, Texas only managed to have five players with a hit.

Walla’s five RBIs matched his career high, senior Tant Shepherd went two-for-four at the plate with an RBI, and senior Paul Montalbano was three-for-four with an RBI as well.

Then there were the two freshmen, third baseman Erich Weiss and right fielder Mark Payton.

Payton raised his batting average to .400 with three hits and two RBIs, and Weiss continued his hot-streak with two hits and three RBIs.

So far on the young season, Weiss boasts a .818 batting average with 11 hits and seven RBIs, and he has also drawn five walks.
“It feels great. Of course it feels great,” Weiss said. “It’s very exciting, and I’m glad I’ve gotten to help the team.”

The offense did its job, putting runs on the board at an incredible rate, while sophomore pitcher Hoby Milner did his part to make sure the Terrapins didn’t even score.

The lefty threw fire, striking out 10 batters and only giving up two hits to get his first win of the year in seven innings of work.
“Hoby’s performance was the kind of performance you’re always looking to get,” Garrido said. “He threw strikes, got his breaking ball over and used his fielders effectively. He maintained the momentum we took from the offensive side.”

The Longhorns came into the fourth and final game of the series against Maryland hungry for a win. After winning on Friday and then splitting Saturday’s doubleheader, a loss would have given them a 2-2 tie for the series, a rather disappointing start for a team with such high expectations, especially against an unranked team.

Instead, their 16-0 win gives them the series, along with a boost of confidence and morale.

“Winning this time of year is very important because of the confidence factor,” Garrido said. “We had a tough day yesterday. To come out and play your best game on a Sunday is a good sign of the players’ commitment.”

Baseball: Jungmann pitches complete game for first win of season

It’s been nine long months since Texas fell one game short of the College World Series in a loss to TCU at the Super Regionals.

This year’s Longhorns (1-0) did their part to ease the pain, beating Maryland (0-1) 8-0 in the season opener at UFCU Disch-Falk field.

Starting pitcher Taylor Jungmann gave up a smattering of hits in the first two innings, but got better as the game wore on. He pitched a complete game on 95 pithces, notching his first win of the season. Effective the entire game, Jungmann allowed just five hits in nine innings, to go with nine strikeouts.

“I thought he did a masterful job,” said Texas head coach Augie Garrido.

With Jungmann pitching a shutout, Texas didn’t need more than one run to win the game. It looked like it might stay a low-scoring contest through the first five innings, but the sixth and seventh innings proved otherwise.

With freshman Mark Payton on first, sophomore Jonathan Walsh slapped a double off the right field wall. Sophomore outfielder Cohl Walla got his only hit of the game on the next at-bat, bringing in Payton on an RBI bunt single.

The Longhorns scored seven runs in those two innings, thanks to a continuance of rallies and some timely hits. Sophomore Cohl Walla had only one hit of the afternoon, but it was a big one as his sixth-inning bunt brought home Payton, snapping a three-inning scoring drought.

That opened the floodgates. After Walla’s bunt, Texas went on a tear, scoring three more runs in the sixth inning and then riding that momentum to a two-run seventh.

Key to the offensive explosion was freshman Erich Weiss, who made his first career start at third base. Weiss finished 3-for-3 at the plate, with a triple, and brought in three runs. Weiss had at Brehnham High School, but his performance on opening day was unlike anything he’d ever been a part of.

“We won the state championship is high school. That was a great feeling, but today is even better,” he said. “There were so many people, I was nervous at first, but it felt good to settle in.”

The Longhorns will be able to win most games with their pitching and defense, but it’d sure be a nice luxury if they can light up the scoreboard, as well.