The Longhorns have dug themselves into a hole again.
Eight hits and 7.1 solid innings of work from Taylor Jungmann were not enough to get past Arizona State in the first game of this Austin Super Regional, and, after a 3-1 loss, Texas now must win two consecutive games to make it to Omaha.
A sloppy third inning was the root of the loss. Second baseman Jordan Etier botched a double-play opportunity — mishandling a throw from Jungmann and allowing the ball to squirt past him — giving ASU’s Andrew Aplin enough time to score from second base. The Sun Devils pushed across another unearned run in the inning, as Joey DiMichele notched RBI-double into centerfield.
With one out, Aplin had reached on a fielding error after Tant Shepherd was unable to handle a sharp grounder. Jungmann (13-2) then walked Johnny Ruettiger, which put runners on first and second. ASU’s Deven Marrero chopped a slow roller to the pitcher’s mound, and, as Jungmann fielded it, it looked like a double play in the making. Too bad Etier and shortstop Brandon Loy were unsure of the proper recipient.
“That one little thing separated the two teams,” said head coach Augie Garrido. “Taylor wasn’t sure who was covering second, Brandon and Etier weren’t quite sure who was doing it. That threw the game off.”
Garrido said Etier, in that situation, needed to cover that bag. But Loy admitted a lack of communication before the play and Jungmann took some blame, too.
“It’s just a lack of communication. The pitcher’s job is to throw it at the bag. With the lack of communication, I threw the ball down a little towards the bag instead of up, where it wouldn’t have gone to the outfield,” Jungmann said.
The Longhorns pushed across a run in the bottom half of the frame thanks to a Brandon Loy single, but squandered the opportunity to tie the game when Paul Montalbano grounded into an inning-ending double play with Loy on third.
“We’ve got to find a way to pick Taylor up,” Loy said. “We had a situation with runners on first and third and we really could have bailed ourselves out, but we ground into that double play. It happens.”
Arizona State’s starting pitcher Brady Rodgers (9-4) allowed eight hits but ceded only one run.
“They pounded the zone and when you do that and throw three pitches for strikes, it makes it hard,” Loy said.
After putting together another fruitless rally in the seventh — with a man on third and only one out, they still couldn’t plate a run — the Longhorns rolled over for dead, unable to even get a runner on base in the final two innings.
“I thought we competed offensively, but their defense was sensational,” Garrido said. “They made plays when they needed to make them, they made pitches when they needed to make them. Therein lies a little bit of the separation.”
It is most likely Jungmann’s final outing ever at UFCU Disch-Falk, the second home loss of his career.
“I’m not even thinking about that [last home game],” he said. “It’s about the next game.”
Texas has proven successful when facing elimination thus far. After last Saturday’s loss to Kent State, it won three straight games by a combined score of 18-6. Furthermore, the Longhorns average a winning streak of three games after each loss this season.
“We’ve got a lot of fight,” Loy said. “It’s a no-tomorrow situation. There’s a lot of guys on this team and this could be their last game at Texas, and we don’t want that to happen.”