“Rejection’s a bitch.”
Third baseman Erich Weiss might have been the Longhorns' best hitter, but he also was part of an infield that ranked last in the Big 12.
That was Texas baseball coach Augie Garrido’s reaction Monday to the selection committee leaving the Longhorns out of the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1998.
As much as he felt it was rejection, the 74-year-old coach also knows his team played its way out of the postseason by losing six of the team’s final 10 games, including three of four games against Missouri.
While Texas finished third in the Big 12, the Longhorns (30-22) finished with the No. 50 RPI in the country. That’s not going to get it done.
It didn’t help that Missouri won the Big 12 Tournament to secure an automatic bid.
But there were plenty of reasons the Longhorns will be watching the tournament for the first time since Garrido’s first year at Texas.
The team lost all three starting pitchers from last year’s team, which made it to the College World Series.
The infield defense was sub-par and the bottom of the order was an easy inning for opposing pitchers.
Garrido thought the team was too emotional to have a team meeting following the tournament’s bracket announcement, so he told the team to gather their emotions and come back Tuesday to talk about the offseason.
While it wasn't discussed Monday, left-handed reliever Hoby Milner probably won't be back for his senior season. He should be drafted in the first seven rounds of the upcoming MLB draft.
Garrido met with the media after he released the team, and here’s what he had to say:
Were you surprised that you were left out?
AUGIE GARRIDO: “I was surprised. I thought we had a chance to get in. There were a lot of teams with the same number of losses or more losses than we had. There were teams in that we beat during the regular season.
“We put ourselves in a position where they could justify leaving us out. However, we put ourselves in a position where they could have put us in. The main thing is we didn’t take care of business, and then when Missouri won (the Big 12 Tournament) that was the final blow.”
Do you think that the committee took into account all of your injuries?
AUGIE GARRIDO: “I know they did. They look at whether you’re going in a positive direction or a negative direction at the end of the season. They also look at your roster and see what your injury list might be. And both of those things played against us. We lost some key series in the last month and we lost players in the last month.”
What did you say to the players?
AUGIE GARRIDO: “Everybody is going to be at a different place. Everybody is going to be emotional from their own point of view. The range is hard to anticipate or know. I think a cooling off is a best way to start. I think we’ll all be more rational and unemotional tomorrow when it sinks in to try and explain something that’s unexplainable.”
Finding hitters who can drive the ball into the gap on a consistent basis is key for the future of Texas baseball.
What was your reaction?
AUGIE GARRIDO: “It’s borderline devastating. When you have the habit of being included and then you’re not … rejection’s a bitch.
“We had opportunities to avoid this, and we failed on the playing field to support ourselves. We failed to avoid giving the committee a chance to leave us out of the tournament and we have to take the responsibility to man up to that.”
How will this change the way you do assessments on players and where the program is?
AUGIE GARRIDO: “When this kind of thing happens, first of all we have to check the water system around UT and what’s going in the water because it seems to be contagious.
“I think you really do have to do a thorough examination of what went wrong and how we got here. This is a championship program. We can’t change that watermark. We’re expected, and rightfully so, to live up to that. We’ve fallen way short. This is a time when you really dig into all of the details and find out what to do to fix it, and that’s one of my main jobs, to be responsible for that. So, I will.”
Is that all areas?
AUGIE GARRIDO: “Yes. All areas. It isn’t about one thing that puts you in this position.”
When looking at who is going to leave and who is going to be back, what’s your assessment of next year’s team?
AUGIE GARRIDO: “I don’t know. I think we’ve added speed. We didn’t have speed on this team. We’ve added power. But we thought we did that with (this year’s team). But until they get on campus you never know what you’ve got. There’s always professional baseball to get involved.
What things look like on paper many times isn’t what happens as you all know. What I do know is we’ll have strong leadership with Jacob Felts and Mark Payton and John Curtiss and Parker French and Corey Knebel. We’ve got some kids who are really devastated with what happened today. Like Baylor last year losing that game to Cal, I think today will be a catalyst to motivate and inspire us to do the best possible job next year and get back into championship form.”
Did this team ever play its best baseball?
AUGIE GARRIDO: “Right in the middle when we had the hitting going on, when we played Oklahoma. That was our best baseball. Where it finally came apart when Parker French got hurt and Ricky (Jacquez) got suspended. We lost confidence in our ability to win the game one or two to nothing. That was a requirement. We didn’t hit well and we didn’t play good defense on the infield. The defensive part of it was probably more responsible for the losses than any other part of the team. It was largely due to the infield play.”
In today’s game when the scholarship limitations is it possible to have a pitching staff like you’ve had the past few years and have an offense that is capable of winning games by more than one or two to nothing?
AUGIE GARRIDO: “Yeah, it is possible. You can’t finish second to last in the league offensively and last defensively and expect to be a champion. It is possible. You go to Florida or Florida State. The championship teams have both.
“You can win in a lot of different ways. That’s the key to it. Can you win offensively? When you make errors, can you overcome it? All of us who are standing here who have seen this know that we couldn’t do that. We had to play pretty flawless baseball from a defensive standpoint, which we were unable to do consistently. We had one way to win. That was to get four or five runs and not let the other team score.”
IS there any update on John Curtiss?
AUGIE GARRIDO: “Yeah. He’s feeling better. We think Curtiss’ injury a muscle strain instead of a ligament tear, which is significantly better. He’s seeing an arm specialist tomorrow. Everybody agrees it’s a muscle injury.
“And Parker French, the surgery was just to put a screw in that stress fracture. That will actually make it stronger and safer for him to go out and pitch and not have that happen to him again. Both of them aren’t expected to have long rehab. If you look at Knebel, French and Curtiss, it’s kind of uplifting as a starting three. It gets us back to the glory days where we had Taylor Jungmann and those kinds of pitchers.
“And we would have won this year if the infield would have performed at a normal level. But it didn’t.”