Here's a quick look, with plenty of notes, quotes and highlights from the Texas Longhorns' 2-1 win over the UT Arlington Mavericks in front of 5,057 at UFCU Disch-Falk Field in Austin on Tuesday night.
Closer Corey Knebel struck out three hitters in two innings, including the final two batters with the tying run at second.
How the Longhorns (3-1) Won
Texas got both of its runs in a big third inning and got great pitching from starter Chad Hollingsworth and relievers Ty Marlow and Corey Knebel to hold on for a 2-1 win. First baseman Codey McElroy started things off in the third with a double to left. After Weston Hall struck out looking, Matt Moynihan showed off his speed by beating out a bunt to third, stealing second and then scoring along with McElroy on a bases-loaded double to left by Erich Weiss. The Texas pitchers combined for eight strikeouts, none bigger than the final two when Knebel, after allowing a leadoff hit in the top of the ninth, fanned the final two UTA batters to end the game and seal the win.
How Mavericks (3-1) Lost
Despite getting their leadoff hitter on base in the first five innings, and six of the nine, the Mavericks could only take advantage of it once. UTA brought six guys to the plate in the opening inning but stranded three, after that the Mavs didn't send more than four batters to the plate the rest of the way. The ended the game stranding seven runners on base. The Texas pitchers played lights out Tuesday night and the defense held up behind them - a harmless error by McElroy was the only blemish.
Erich Weiss had his best day at the plate so far this season with a double and a two-RBI single in his first two appearances. The double in the first inning was the second baseman's first extra-base hit of the season. And his RBI in the second inning obviously was the deciding factor in a game that lacked offense for the final five innings. Weiss also made a few nice plays out in the field as he continues to adjust to his new role at second after starting every game at third in 2012.
It Was Over When...
Even though UTA had failed to put together any kind of rally for the majority of the game, this one wasn't over until the last strikeout by Knebel. A leadoff single by designated hitter Matt Shortall brought out Texas pitching coach Skip Johnson who calmed his All-American candidate and made sure he was in the right place mentally after rough appearances over the weekend. Knebel responded, and after a sacrifice bunt moved Shortall to second with one out, the junior from Georgetown overpowered two UTA pinch hitters to get out of the jam and remind everybody why he's looked at as one of the best closers in the college game.
Corey Knebel came out and looked like the guy we expected to see in his first two appearances with two innings pitched, one hit and three strikeouts on Tuesday. Knebel is the kind of guy that likes pitching with pressure, and holding a one-run lead for the final two innings was right up his alley. After his third and final strikeout of the night he gave a first pump that was part celebration, part relief that he's back to where he knows he can be.
Cameron Cox is a guy Garrido really likes as a potential starter at some point in his Longhorn career, but he didn't rise to the challenge in this one. He came into the game with one out and a runner on first in the seventh inning and gave up a single to the first batter he faced, putting runners on fist and second with the Horns still holding just a one-run lead. Garrido sees a lot of potential in Cox, but he's not sure he has the confidence, yet, to come into a situation in which the team needs an out to avoid a big inning...
...Ty Marlow is that guy. The junior from Giddings continues to be a savior for the Longhorn bullpen in the very early parts of 2013. He came in after Cox was pulled after just one batter with two on and one out and forced two fly-ball outs to end the lone true rally after the fourth inning by either team. Those two batters were all Marlow faced as Knebel came in to pitch the final two innings, but without Marlow's thirst to come through in pressure-packed moments Texas could have very easily lost this mid-week contest against UT Arlington.
To expect him to keep up his hot start from opening weekend would have been way too much to ask, but Mark Payton came up to the plate with opportunities to do some damage in the first, third and fifth innings and couldn't do anything more than bunt a runner over to second in the fifth. He's still batting .467 on the season, but he came on with a runner on second and flew out to left to end the first inning, runners on the corners with one out in the third and hit into a double play, and bunted, for some reason, in the fifth with no outs and a runner on first. He's going to have games when the ball doesn't find the gaps. Had he come up with a hit in either of his first three opportunities Texas could have been able to breathe a little easier in the final innings of this one.
Stat(s) of the Night
Texas leadoff hitter Matt Moynihan has started his Longhorn career with a nice little four-game hit streak after his bunt single in the third... Texas is now 2-0 in one-run games to start the season, it was 5-7 in 2012.... The Longhorns are batting .315 as a team, they batted .263 in 2012... Texas has stolen 10 bases through four games this year, it stole 56 in 52 games a year ago.
Story of the Night
The Longhorns pitched a heck of a game Tuesday night. Freshman starter Chad Hollingsworth went five innings, striking out three, scattering four hits and allowing one run in his first start as a Longhorn. He made a very brief appearance over the weekend - walking one and striking out one on Saturday - but in his first official start in burnt orange, the Waco Robinson product was nails. After him Ty Marlow and Corey Knebel have early looks of a deadly combination in the Texas bullpen. Though Knebel had a rough start, you have to think he'll resemble the stud that was on the mound Tuesday night more often this season than the guy that struggled over his two weekend appearances.
Augie Garrido on winning another one-run game:
"There's a great spirit about the team at this point in time, and as long as we keep moving forward the way we're moving forward ... it'll go from trust to respect, and from respect to total confidence. And as they get more playing time you'll see more consistency."
Garrido on the lack of offense:
"The at-bats were a lot better than the number of hits. I think all of you saw that. There were six balls that were hit on a line right at people. That happens sometimes. That's the way this game is, but the truth of the matter is we hit the ball really well and played hard. The thing I really like was they didn't take the frustrations that come from playing offense that way - where they hit the ball hard and they catch it and they don't get rewarded - and pout on defense. They played hard, they made good plays, they got good jumps. For young players that's a hard thing to do."
Garrido on Ty Marlow getting big-time outs:
"That's what he needs to do for this team. He's got the makeup for that. He's got the stuff for it because in an exciting situation the hitters are excited and he can throw his slider and his off-speed change-up for strikes. He inspires all of us by the fact that he's not some giant physical specimen and he walks out there and you'd think he was a bulldog or something, man. 'Just give me the ball and I'm going to throw it to the mitt and I don't give a damn who's hitting.' That's inspirational. That's an attitude that you want."
Garrido on Knebel pitching better:
"I'm seeing him gaining confidence and simplifying the process and being himself. It's hard to keep on top of your game when in fact everybody's telling you you're the best thing since sliced bread. And nobody should ever get a hit off you, and you're the best closer in the nation, and you're a pre-season All-American, and you're a No. 1 draft pick. That's a lot of weight."
Chad Hollingsworth on the nerves entering his first start:
"I'm a pretty level-headed guy. I don't get nervous too much, but I mean it was exciting and I was pretty anxious to get out there."
Erich Weiss on the offense going quiet after the third inning:
"Their pitches are really good. They have a really good team. You've got to give them credit for pitching the way they did. We squared up a lot of balls and it just went right to people a lot, a lot. There was about five of them I think. But we got passed that and we played defense and kept us ahead."
Weiss on the transition to second:
"I've practiced over there a lot. In the fall and in the early spring, so that helped a lot. I feel really comfortable over there."
Knebel on improving since Friday:
"I'm starting to get more comfortable now. Friday it was just, I don't know, first day back and I guess I was nervous. I'm going back at it now. Sunday was good for me and now today is really a confidence booster for me."
Knebel on dealing with expectations:
"Everything's still the same as last year and freshman year. I guess it's just a little different now because we're scoring runs. And we are winning, so I will be coming in more [laughs]"
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