It’s the little things that make the difference in the long run, and those small details are the reason Texas was unable to come away with the series victory against Cal.
When it came down to it, the Bears got hits in the clutch while the Longhorns failed to perform in those situations.
“They gave themselves more opportunities to score and had more clutch hits than we did,” said head coach Augie Garrido. “That’s what separated the two teams.”
Batting with runners on base was a problem for Texas throughout the game and the players’ inability to come through in those situations cost the team.
In the eighth inning, after Tim Maitland put Texas within a run with a one out triple, Mark Payton came to the plate with the opportunity to tie the game with a hit or a deep fly ball into the outfield for a sacrifice fly.
In this situation, hitters are supposed to be patient and wait for their pitch, which in Payton’s case, is a fastball. The only thing is, his nerves got the better of him and he jumped on the first pitch he saw, a low change up, and grounded out to second.
“If I could do it again, I would just wait until I got a fastball in that situation,” Payton said.
Before the at-bat, Garrido even went to talk to Payton about looking for his pitch and making the pitcher elevate the ball, so he could get the ball to the outfield for a sacrifice fly.
“It’s very disappointing and extremely frustrating when you ask a player that’s been swinging at a lot of low pitches, just make sure you make him elevate it or let it go,” Garrido said of Payton’s at-bat. “It’s the ability to hit with runners in scoring position with the game on the line. It’s their nerves.”
But Payton wasn’t struggling alone. Senior Jordan Etier came up next in the inning with the opportunity to tie it up and despite battling at the plate, he took a tough pitch on the inside corner for a called third strike.
In the ninth inning Texas had another opportunity to come through in the clutch after Erich Weiss worked a walk and then was advanced to second with a sacrifice bunt.
“Not coming through was frustrating at the time and it’s still frustrating now,” Payton said. “It’s just something you just learn from and take with you in the future. It’s a new week now and I have to just put it behind me.”