Junior outfielder Ben Johnson swings away at a pitch Tuesday against Texas A&M Prairie View. Johnson went 2-for-4 in the game with two RBIs, four stolen bases and also scored four times.
Photo Credit: Graeme Hamilton | Daily Texan Staff

After a series sweep with little offensive production, Texas’ bats started early Tuesday. 

To lead off the first inning, junior left fielder Ben Johnson ripped a ball through Prairie View A&M third baseman Connor Wrye’s legs to open up the game for Texas. Although Johnson’s hit was scored an error, it was the spark for Texas’ offense, which scored three runs in the first inning and plated another nine runs in a 12–4 win over the Panthers.

“[My lead-off at-bat] set the tone early,” Johnson said. “Obviously we want to score a lot of runs, and we did that tonight. That’s the goal every game. I think it was one of those things, no matter what the situations was, we were going to keep putting it on them.”

But it wasn’t easy sailing for the Longhorns. Texas’ sophomore starting pitcher Josh Sawyer produced a solid outing until he ran into trouble in the fourth inning.

Sawyer hit the leadoff batter and walked the next to start the inning. But the sophomore made his biggest mistake when he threw a ball over the head of redshirt freshman third baseman Bret Boswell, attempting to throw out the leadoff runner on a bunt. 

The error allowed a run to score and was the first run in the Panthers’ biggest inning. Prairie View A&M drew three more walks in the inning and scored four runs to tie the game at 4–4.

The Longhorns answered in the bottom frame as senior right fielder Collin Shaw started the inning with a leadoff walk and then stole second base. Johnson singled Shaw home and Texas took a 5–4 lead that it would not surrender.

“After we had that walk in the park in the fourth, the offense continued to stay focused and that was a really a good sign – the fact that they didn’t panic or come out of character,” head coach Augie Garrido said.

Texas’ offensive onslaught continued in the sixth inning when Johnson opened the inning with his second base hit of the ball game and a steal — a season-high eighth of the game. Sophomore center fielder Zane Gurwitz followed with a walk, and sophomore catcher Tres Barrera scored Johnson to push the lead to 7–4. Texas added another run in the inning off a sacrifice fly from freshman shortstop Joe Baker.

Senior second baseman Brooks Marlow added the Longhorns’ final runs in the ninth with a two-run bomb that barely missed the Taco Shack “Free Taco” sign in the right field bullpen. Longhorn senior pitcher Ty Marlow finished off the game, and Texas secured its 23rd win of the season to move a game above .500 before its weekend matchup with Texas Tech.

“Every win is important,” Baker said. “We just wanted to get out there and take care of things like we should’ve all year. We had a down year but it was good to get out there and get a win. Hopefully it’ll propel us in the next series.”

Despite the four run fourth inning, the Texas pitching staff only allowed one hit. Freshman pitcher Jake McKenzie earned the win after relieving sophomore pitcher Jon Malmin in the fourth inning.

The Longhorns will play their final home series starting Friday against the Red Raiders.

UC Irvine's Grant Palmer (27) reaches second base on a double against Texas second baseman Brooks Marlow (8), in the second inning of an NCAA baseball College World Series game in Omaha, Neb., Saturday, June 14, 2014. (AP Photo/Dave Weaver)

Photo Credit: AP Exchange | Daily Texan Staff

The Texas Longhorns gave up five hits and three runs in the eighth inning, blowing a 1-0 lead, as they fell to the UC Irvine Anteaters, 3-1, in the opening game of the College World Series.

Senior pitcher Nathan Thornhill pitched a solid seven and a third innings, but was tagged with the loss after allowing two runs.

The Anteaters threatened in the first inning when third baseman Andrew Sparks singled  and advanced to second on an error and reached third with one out. Thornhill pitched out of that jam to strand the runner at third as he would do in three of UC Irvine’s first four innings.

The Longhorns had a chance to get an early lead off of Andrew Morales, after junior second baseman Brooks Marlow and sophomore outfielder Ben Johnson both walked. Senior centerfielder Mark Payton bunted them over but freshman catcher Tres Barrera and sophomore shortstop C.J Hinojosa both were retired to strand two in scoring position.

Texas struck first in the  bottom of the second when junior rightfielder Collin Shaw doubled and senior designated hitter Madison Carter bunted him over to third. Freshman first baseman Kacy Clemens managed to reach base, leading to freshman third baseman Zane Gurwitz who drove in Shaw on an infield bunt single.

Texas had the bases loaded with one out but couldn’t produce a second run, a common theme as the team stranded 12 on base, and only hit 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position in the game.

UC Irvine also wasted plenty of opportunities, leaving six on base, but managed to get three across the plate in the decisive eighth inning.  Texas allowed three extra base hits in the contest after only surrendering two such hits in its first six NCAA Tournament games.

Texas will face the loser of tonight’s game between Vanderbilt and Louisville at 2 p.m. Monday. The Longhorns now sit one loss away from elimination, and will need to win four straight to reach the Championship.

Mark Payton’s record on-base streak of 101 games ended in the loss, as he went 0-for-4 and was out on a sacrifice bunt.


Sophomore infielder Erin Shireman has proven to be a model student-athlete, currently pursuing a degree in aerospace engineering while playing a key role in the diamond for Texas.

Photo Credit: Amy Zhang | Daily Texan Staff

Erin Shireman, a sophomore catcher/third baseman, is perhaps the most interesting player on head coach Connie Clark’s team.  

Shireman embodies the role of a student-athlete, currently pursuing a degree in aerospace engineering and continuing her family’s legacy.

“I have grown up with [aerospace engineering] my entire life,” Shireman said. “My parents got me into it at a young age, especially being from Houston. My dad works at NASA, so I have always been in that atmosphere and learned a lot from him. I have recently started flying, and that has kind of changed my mind, or given me a tough decision, as whether to go with space or atmospheric in the future.”

Shireman hopes her degree will be a launching pad for her ultimate goal of being an astronaut.

“I still want to be an astronaut, but I am being realistic that it may not happen,” Shireman said. “But now, having gotten my pilot’s license, I am really enjoying the atmospheric part of it. My parents keep me intrigued with that, and we go on family flying trips all the time.”

Many student-athletes view sports as their ultimate career destinations, often emphasizing their roles as athletes over being students. But when asked to choose which accomplishment she was most proud of, Shireman was stuck in the middle.

“That is a tough question because they are both a big part of my life, and so if I say I am more proud of one, I am kind of letting down the other part of me,” Shireman said. “I am proud of everything. Softball has given me the opportunity to come to UT and do the school aspect and then school will help me later on in the future, so they are pretty evenly balanced.”

Shireman and her teammates have had an up-and-down season thus far, but she has a concise summary for what has happened so far.

“Entertaining,” Shireman said. “There is never a dull moment when you have 19 girls on a team, and even when things are going rough we are always picking each other up and during the good times it is just easy, breezy rolling.”

The Longhorns made it to the semifinals of the College World Series last year and hope to reach similar heights this season despite their relative youth. 

“We have had a lot of games where we have lost by one run, or they have been really close games,” Smith said. “If we can just work on finishing that or getting ahead that will be the key to getting us back to the College World Series.”

On Feb. 22, I took a look at second basemen. Now, let’s shift to third basemen.

Which third baseman should go off the board first?

Miguel Cabrera (DET) – This isn’t even a debate, and you all know that.

Who is making a comeback from a disappointing 2013 season?

Aramis Ramirez (MIL) – Ramirez battled injuries in 2013 and wasn’t even owned in most leagues throughout the season. After playing just 92 games last year, he is most likely going to miss the first few games of spring training after having a polyp removed from his colon. However, when he is playing, he can be effective. He has always been a consistent fantasy contributor when healthy, hitting more than 25 homers in each season in which he has had at least 450 plate appearances. Ramirez will also maintain a solid batting average, get you doubles and plenty of runs batted in.

Don’t sleep on this guy

Chris Johnson (ATL) – Despite losing McCann, the Braves lineup should be pretty strong again this year. Last year, Johnson broke out and finished fifth in the majors in batting average at .321. He isn’t very powerful at the plate or the best source for runs batted in, but he had 34 doubles last season, and I expect his other numbers to improve. Johnson is currently being ranked in the 20-25 range. He is better than that, and if you find yourself stuck without a third baseman in the late rounds, Johnson will provide tremendous value.

Bound to bust

Kyle Seager (SEA) – Seager has never appealed to me. With Cano on his team, he is expected to produce more, but I don’t see it coming to fruition. Although Seager has hit 20+ homers the past two seasons, his average is never good and none of his numbers stand out. He is currently being ranked in the 10-15 range among third baseman, but I project him finishing worse than that.

My Pre-Season Rankings: Third Basemen

  1. Miguel Cabrera (DET)
  2. Adrian Beltre (TEX)
  3. Evan Longoria (TB)
  4. David Wright (NYM)
  5. Edwin Encarnacion (TOR)
  6. Matt Carpenter (STL)
  7. Ryan Zimmerman (WAS)
  8. Manny Machado (BAL)
  9. Pedro Alvarez (PIT)
  10. Pablo Sandoval (SF)
  11. Josh Donaldson (OAK)
  12. Aramis Ramirez (MIL)
  13. Brett Lawrie (TOR)
  14. Nolan Arenado (COL)
  15. Jurickson Profar (TEX)
  16. Chris Johnson (ATL)
  17. Martin Prado (ARI)
  18. Todd Frazier (CIN)
  19. Kyle Seager (SEA)
  20. Jedd Gyorko (SD)

I’ll leave you with this...

Third base might be stronger than it has ever been in fantasy baseball this season. Cabrera, Beltre, Longoria, Wright and Encarnacion may very well all be gone within the first three rounds of any fantasy draft, but there is no need to panic if you do not end up with one of the top-tier guys because the players below them aren’t too shabby. Third baseman like Carpenter, Zimmerman, Machado, Alvarez and Sandoval are all solid fantasy contributors who have a chance to really shine. This year, it may even be best to pass on drafting a third baseman in the early rounds and wait until the later rounds to pick up potential breakout players like Profar, Arenado or Johnson.

Each week, Adam will give his two cents about the players at each position, naming a clear-cut number one, a comeback player, a sleeper/breakout, a bust, his full rankings and a little advice as to what to do in your draft and throughout the season.

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

When the Texas Rangers reached their first-ever World Series appearance last season, not having the home-field advantage took a toll on them. They dropped both games in San Francisco before losing the series in five games.

Rangers manager Ron Washington will lead the American League at this year’s All-Star game, where the American League will try to redeem themselves after having their 14-game winning streak snapped by the National League in last season’s Midsummer Classic.

2010 AL MVP Josh Hamilton secured a spot in the starting lineup of the 2011 All-Star Game, which will take place in Phoenix, Ariz., on July 12. Each team’s rosters were announced Sunday, and three of Hamilton’s Texas teammates will join him in Phoenix — pitcher C.J. Wilson, third baseman Adrian Beltre and designated hitter
Michael Young. Hamilton edged out Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury for the starting spot by just 36,727 votes.

Hard-hitting right fielder Hunter Pence was the only member of the Houston Astros chosen to be on the NL’s All-Star squad.

Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista. Bautista was the leading vote-getter. Bautista, who led the majors with 54 home runs last year and leads the majors this year with 26, blasted Ken Griffey Jr.’s 1994 vote record of 6,069,688 with 7,454,753 votes.

The New York Yankees led all squads with six All-Star selections, including four starters — second baseman Robinson Cano, third baseman Alex Rodriguez, shortstop Derek Jeter and center fielder Curtis Granderson. However, the Yankees ace and 11-game winner, CC Sabathia, did not make the cut. Last year’s AL- and NL-leading vote-getters, Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer and St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols were also left out.

This year’s All-Star game will feature plenty of fresh faces as well, as 24 players are participating for the first time.

The Rangers are well-represented at this year’s All-Star game. If they make a return trip to the Fall Classic, home-field advantage would help. But to earn that, they’ll need a good showing at the Midsummer Classic.

Spike Owen, who played shortstop and third baseman for the Longhorns in the early 1980s, has found his way back to Austin as the interim manager of the Round Rock Express.

While at Texas, Owen led Texas to several Southwest Championships and was named All-Conference shortstop in 1981 and 1982. Owen also led the team to two College World Series appearances in 1981 and 1982 but was unable to bring the trophy home from Omaha.

In 1983, the year after he left Texas, the Longhorns brought home a title. Despite this, Owen still highlights the importance of taking a trip to Omaha.

“It’s a great feeling. When you’re professional you want to play in the World Series and it’s really no different in college to have the chance to play for a national championship,” Owen said. “We came up short when I was there and it’s something I will kind of always regret, but going to Omaha is something special.”

Drafted by Seattle with the No. 6 overall pick in the 1982 draft, Owen played for the Mariners for four years before being traded to Boston. As a member of the Red Sox, Owen tied a league record for most runs scored in a single game with six. He also made an appearance in the World Series where he hit .300 with the Red Sox in 1986 when they lost four games to three against the New York Mets.

Throughout his career, Owen was constantly praised for his success at the plate. He had the ability to draw walks out of a pitcher and could perform well in the clutch. His aggressive competition and his leadership led him through a 12-year Major League career, experience that has helped him in his new career.

“He’s a great coach,” said Express outfielder Brad Nelson. “Any guy with double digits in the big league — he knows something, he’s doing something right. What he’s been around and seen in this game is far more than any one of us can relate to. Anyone with that kind of knowledge — you’re always going to get better.”

In 2002, Owen was installed as the bench coach for the Express while it was still an affiliate of the Houston Astros. He is now the interim manager for Round Rock under its new affiliation with the Texas Rangers.

“It’s good to be back home, I love Austin,” Owen said. “It’s my second time around. I was with Round Rock with the Astros when they were here and I was really happy to be able to come back.”

Owen fondly remembers his college days and the style of play employed by his head coach Cliff Gustafson — Gus Ball.

“Coach Gus built his team around pitching and defense as well, however, we didn’t bunt as much as Augie bunts,” Owen said. “With Texas, the pitching prospects they have coming through here are some of the best in the country and he wanted to surround them with guys who could catch the ball and turn outs.”

And even though he’s on the road a lot during the Express’s season, Owen still had a chance to watch his alma mater play ball.

“I got to see a little bit during the playoffs. They had a good year,” Owen said. “I know for us Longhorns we want to win it all and that’s a goal every year, but hopefully we can build on this and get back there next year.”

Baseball can be a cruel game.

Texas head coach Augie Garrido says it all the time. For evidence, look no further than Texas’ 9-2 loss to Stanford on Saturday, where it seemed nothing would go right for the Longhorns.

“This was a pretty cruel day,” Garrido said.

Cole Green got off to another slow start at home, allowing three runs in only two innings, the shortest outing of his career.

“I didn’t do anything that I normally do right, and it got to me,” Green said. “They’re a good club, and they came out and they beat us today.”

Stanford’s Stephen Piscotty’s RBI double in the first inning started the scoring for Stanford. The third baseman also scored in the inning, and finished the day 2-for-5 with two runs and two RBIs. Green’s day was done after throwing just 41 pitches, as Hoby Milner started the third inning for Texas.

“Cole didn’t keep the ball down in the strike zone and he didn’t have a strong presence on the mound,” Garrido said. “They rattled him.”

Texas couldn’t get its offense going until the third inning, when leadoff man Jordan Etier singled to right center, and Brandon Loy moved him to second with a sac bunt. With the heart of the lineup to bat, Mark Payton popped up to third base, Erich Weiss walked and Lucas Kephart grounded out to end the inning for Texas. The stranded runners were two out of ten for the Longhorns during the game, which hurt Texas’ chances of taking back momentum from the Cardinal.

“Some things really went in their direction, and they kept that going,” Garrido said. “They threw us off balance and we didn’t protect ourselves by coming right back offensively, and that’s what you have to do; you have to retaliate when things get going for the other team.”

Stanford added three more runs in the fifth inning, as Tyler Gaffney walked and Piscotty brought him home with his second RBI double of the game. Ben Clowe lined one into center field and Cohl Walla’s glove, but Walla dropped it, scoring Piscotty.

The error was one of five for Texas.

“It’s baseball,” Texas shortstop Brandon Loy said. “One of those days where nothing really goes right for you.”

Nobody knows that more than Texas third baseman Erich Weiss. The freshman committed three errors in the game, including two in the seventh inning. He let a ground ball get past him and then made a charging throw that brought Tant Shepherd off of first base to load the bases.

“Baseball’s not a fun game sometimes,” Loy said. “When that happens, the ball finds a way to find you.”

But Weiss followed his seventh inning with getting the final two outs of the eighth for Texas, the last by bare-handing the ball after it hit pitcher Kirby Bellow’s foot and throwing it to first base for the out.

“How many times did the ball find him in a row?” Garrido said. “How does this game know how to punish people like that? I believe he’ll be back tomorrow with a right attitude, and that’s how you really find out who your players are.”

Weiss finished the day 1-for-4 with a walk. He and the rest of the Longhorns will look to get off to a better start on Sunday, in the final game of the series with Stanford.