The Longhorns head to Omaha this week for their first trip to the College World Series since 2009, when they lost in the final series to LSU. Taylor Jungmann pitched four games in Omaha that year when he was a freshman.
He went 3-0, including a complete game against LSU. Now a junior, Jungmann said a lot has changed since he last pitched in Omaha, and thinks he’s more mature than ever before.
“I’ve gotten a lot stronger mentally and physically,” he said. “As a freshman, you’re kind of thrown into it coming out of high school, and it’s just not the same game. Playing here for three years has changed me a lot.”
The last two starts have been strange for Jungmann — he hasn’t won. The right-hander was 17-0 at UFCU Disch-Falk Field in his career before picking up his first loss in the regional against Kent State, and followed with a loss to Arizona State in game one of the Super Regional. Texas head coach Augie Garrido isn’t worried about his ace.
“He has the mentality of a world-class athlete, and he knows that failure is a part of what goes on with teamwork,” Garrido said. “He might lose again, but he’s not going to try and win — he’s going to try and pitch.”
Fresh faces see Omaha for the first time
The Longhorn freshmen have done their part to get themselves to Omaha this season, but now they are entering new territory. A lot of names remain from the last Longhorn team to make it to Omaha, and they’re trying to help ease the younger players into this exciting week.
“There are enough guys on this team that have been there, and it can definitely help calm the nerves of the younger guys,” said Cole Green, who pitched as a sophomore and picked up a win the last time Texas played in the College World Series. “We learned a lot from being there, and we use that for confidence. We need to take that competitive nature back to the tournament this year and see what happens.”
Freshman Erich Weiss has lead the Longhorns in hitting this season, and while he said he’s relaxed now, he admitted the nerves will probably set in once the weekend arrives.
“All the older players say it’s the best time of your life, and I’m sure that’s true,” Weiss said. “All of the games will probably be sold out, so it’s going to be a fun atmosphere.”
Longhorns christen new stadium
This year will be the first time since 1950 the College World Series won’t be played in Rosenblatt Stadium. The series calls TD Ameritrade Park home now, and the Longhorns are eager to see what it’s like. They got a quick look at it from the outside earlier this year when driving to the airport after their series against Nebraska.
“New stadium, new environment, new teams. So it’s a totally different experience,” senior pitcher Cole Green said. “I would have loved to play in Rosenblatt last year, but opening it up is going to be exciting.”
One difference between the two stadiums that should serve to help the Longhorns is that the south winds that blow out at Rosenblatt blow in at TD Ameritrade Park, which can help pitchers. Garrido said that’s better for the Longhorns, who rely more on pitching than hitting home runs.