AUSTIN — Having pride in a program or organization is a good thing. However, when the only thing that instills pride is the organization itself rather than the product, there can be issues.
On nearly every occasion junior catcher Tres Barrera addresses the media in a post-game availability, it is very evident how much pride he has in being able to wear a burnt orange uniform with Texas across the chest. It is a jersey that brings pride through the program’s six national championships, numerous trips to Omaha and a consistent record for appearing in the NCAA tournament.
At this point in the Texas Longhorns’ 2016 baseball season, the name across the chest is about all the Longhorns are playing for, and the chance at a national championship, let alone a NCAA tournament appearance, appears slim.
“You’ve got to love the grind,” Barrera said following 3-0 and 6-3 losses to Oklahoma State. “You’ve got to know that the sun is going to come up tomorrow and you get to play baseball again.”
There really is not much to love about “the grind” for Texas in 2016. The team is now 20-23, and 9-8 in the Big 12. As it was for the team in 2015, their only shot at a postseason appearance appears to be through winning the Big 12 Tournament in Oklahoma City. Two wins against Oklahoma State on Saturday could have changed that, with the two teams ahead of Texas in conference, TCU and Texas Tech, playing against each other this weekend. Instead, Texas dropped two games to the Cowboys, scoring three runs over 18 innings.
In game one, Texas was shut down by Oklahoma State starter Thomas Hatch. Hatch threw a complete game shutout, allowing only one significant Texas threat in the first inning. The Longhorns had first and third with one out, but grounded into a double play to end the Texas threat. Hatch would mow Texas batters down the remainder of the game on Oklahoma State’s way to a 3-0 victory. Sophomore Morgan Cooper took the loss for Texas.
In game two, Oklahoma State jumped quickly to a 2-0 lead, but Texas would tie it up over the next two innings. Barrera would score in the first off a single from sophomore Patrick Mathis, and freshman Tyler Rand would score in the second thanks to an RBI single from sophomore Jake McKenzie.
OSU would push three across in the sixth to give themselves a 5-2 lead. Texas threatened in the seventh, loading the bases with just one out. Sophomore Travis Jones singled with two outs to make it 5-3, but a strikeout the very next batter would leave the bases full, with Texas only managing one run in the inning.
Oklahoma State scratched across an insurance run in the eighth, and Texas went quietly in the last two innings. Senior Ty Culbreth took the loss for the Horns, allowing five runs, two of them earned, after what began as a solid start for the left hander.
Prior to being available for his post game interview, audible jeers intended for head coach Augie Garrido could be heard from the fans that sit atop buses in right field. Attendance for the first game was not given, but the announced attendance for the second game was 6,312, even though it was evident there were far less than 6,000 fans in attendance.
Garrido talked about his team’s performance in the two games.
“We did not get enough runs to cover the mistakes we made,” Garrido said. “A lot of the same kinds of things happened. The game is about imperfections. They were imperfect, we were more imperfect.”
Garrido would echo his catcher’s sentiment about “the grind” with the postseason chances becoming slimmer and slimmer.
“It would appear that we don’t work on some of these things but we do all the time, bunt defenses and things like that,” Garrido said. “You just keep grinding it out. Just keep grinding away at it. Keep working at it. Show up the next game and go to work. Get it figured out.”
Texas plays to try and salvage the series omorrow with Kyle Johnston on the mound.