After 1,894 victories as a head coach, Augie Garrido and his team have only one thing on their minds: Lubbock.
Twelfth-ranked Texas will battle Texas Tech (21-7, 3-3 Big 12) on the road this weekend after making history on Tuesday night with a 5-1 victory over Texas State. Garrido became the all-time winningest coach in college baseball history but his Longhorns still have a season to keep playing.
“I don’t know that I was the inspiration — all we did was play the game,” Garrido said after Tuesday’s win. “I think that Tommy Nicholson was the inspiration, and Ryan Russ was the inspiration. They are the two that spend the most time with them over the hitting. [The players] came out and hit the ball hard, they really did, they lit it up. They have been lighting it up for about two weeks now, and they are making progress, and they are maturing. Those are the things I look at, not the results. The results are what they are, but [Nicholson and Russ] are making the progress that’s making this team move forward.”
And the Longhorns’ hitting has been the biggest story as of late, with the team scoring 34 runs in the past five games.
Sophomore outfielder Ben Johnson has contributed greatly to this streak, launching his second home run of the season over the left field wall during Tuesday’s win. Johnson attributes the offensive improvement to the team’s realistic mentality, particularly at home where the ball doesn’t fly as well.
“I think we had a hitters meeting last week and we talked about how guys really weren’t going to hit too many home runs here and we need to start getting on top of the ball more,” Johnson said. “When we play at Disch-Falk we need to use that to our advantage knowing that it’s a big field and you have to get on top of the ball.”
Heading into this weekend’s series against the Red Raiders, whose pitching staff boasts a solid 2.78 combined ERA, every hitter will need to do his part. As of now, Texas (20-6, 1-2 Big 12) has six players hitting at least .250 at the plate for a combined .256 team average that’s growing every game.
Senior outfielder Mark Payton continues to lead the charge, upping his average to a .420 after a 3-for-4 performance against the Bobcats, but it’s the younger players that are continuing to improve every time out.
Freshman catcher Tres Barrera is currently fourth on the team with a .268 average after hitting just under .150 three weeks ago. Johnson’s .280 average is third best on the team, and his 19 runs easily lead the Longhorns.
Texas knows it can count on its pitching staff that features a combined 1.89 ERA, but as the hitters continue to improve, the Longhorns will be a tough team to contain, much less defeat, as the season goes along.