Offense picks up as Horns enter 32nd CWS
Here's an in-depth look at the Texas Longhorns, one of the eight teams competing in the College World Series, which starts Friday at Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha, Neb.
Coach: Augie Garrido (ninth season).
CWS History: 32nd trip to Omaha (last in 2004), five titles (last in 2002).
How They Got Here: Won the Austin, Texas, regional in five games, beating Arkansas in the final. Beat Mississippi in three games on the road to win super regional.
Players To Watch: Sr. SS Seth Johnston (.387-8-63, 15 SB), Soph. CF Drew Stubbs (.317-11-45, 31 SB), Jr. C Taylor Teagarden (.332-6-31), Jr. RHP J. Brent Cox (7-3, 2.00, 17 SV).
Scouting The Longhorns: They're Texas and have that belief that they're going to win no matter what. I don't know what is it or what you can call it. They never panic and obviously get that from Augie Garrido. Texas never gave us the nervous feeling that Nebraska did. I didn't feel they had offensive power to kill us.
Try to get ahead early. If you can stay in the lead, J. Brent Cox would have to stay down in the 'pen. You know he's lurking down there. If Cox gets in, you better hit the first fastball you see. If not, it's going to be all sliders. Adrian Alaniz was unbelievable early, but his velocity was down in the Big 12 tournament. His fastball is straight. He's going to throw that good breaking ball. We just saw a breaking ball and tried to hit it the other way. Kyle McCulloch throws fastballs early, then gets the slider going and mixes in a change. He's a competitor, aggressive and he'll work backward. Buck Cody has some trouble throwing strikes, he's a guy we had get to from the bullpen. He'll throw a lot of fastballs, especially in tight spots.
Seth Johnson was unbelievable for me this year. Last year, he wasn't anything close to this year. He's just flat better. We tried everything: in, out, soft, up, down, hard. He's more patient now, but still likes that first pitch. You want to be careful with Drew Stubbs and Taylor Teagarden, but not too careful because you can pitch to them. Stubbs has power to all fields, but he'll chase breaking balls late in counts. Teagarden tries to pull early, and has power that way, but goes opposite late and shoots the gaps. I saw where Chance Wheeless hit a home run against Arkansas. He has power in there. I always wondered why he hit four or five hole and that's why. Nick Peoples and Carson Kainer have been playing every day lately and have both been real good.
With Texas it's predictable when they bunt, and they like to put pressure on you. It's similar to most Texas teams. Augie likes to sacrifice on the road, but push and drag at home because of the turf. He won't hit and run at home, he will on road. It gets to you real quick on their surface. Augie's going to see that short fence at Mississippi and have a guy like Johnston, who can hit it over it, and still be tempted to bunt because that's what they do. It will be interesting to see if he sticks with what he's done all year or takes a chance to hit it out. He lets them let it fly on the road. I don't think he'll bunt as much.
Omaha Outlook: Texas punched its fourth straight ticket to the CWS with two more of the gutsy comeback performances that have defined the program under Augie Garrido. Texas faced and won five elimination games in regional and super regional play to make it to Omaha for a record 32nd time.
The Longhorns, who were 30-15 after rocketing out to a 21-1 start, rank fourth nationally in ERA and fielding percentage, and J. Brent Cox is a deluxe closer, though he's not as impenetrable as his predecessor, Huston Street.
Texas' offense has picked up in the postseason as Chance Wheeless and Will Crouch provided needed power, while Carson Kainer and Nick Peoples brought consistency to the outfield corners.
Texas has shown limitless heart this season, but with just seven pitchers logging significant innings this season, the Longhorns actually enter Omaha as an underdog.
Will Kimmey covers college baseball for Baseball America.
Editor's note: Baseball America contacted college coaches familiar with the teams for analysis. Anonymity was granted in exchange for their candor.
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