Texas pitching staff has championship feel

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AUSTIN, Texas – Minutes after Texas defeated in-state rival Rice in the Austin Regional title game on Sunday, Longhorns starting pitchers Taylor Jungmann, Brandon Workman and Cole Green met somewhere in the clubhouse and voted on which pitcher had the best starting performance during the weekend.

When all three votes were tallied, Jungmann was the winner. Jungmann was proud towin the award, so proud that he made mention of it when asked about competition between the three starters in the postgame press conference.

Perhaps Jungmann had a reason to be excited.

After all, outpitching guys such as Green and Workman is a chore.

“I actually voted for Workman,” Jungmann said. “You know, he threw a complete-game shutout and allowed just six hits [against Rider on Friday].”

Jungmann, though, put together the most impressive performance against the second-best team in the regional and in the most important game.

Jungmann faced the Owls earlier this season at Minute Maid Park in Houston and allowed just a run in 7 2/3 innings of work.

He had little trouble emulating the performance on Sunday, striking out seven batters and allowing just a run on two hits in 7 2/3 innings to lead the Longhorns to a victory and yet another NCAA super regional appearance against TCU.

“I thought he pitched better tonight than in our previous meeting. He hit his spots very well and made few mistakes,” Rice catcher Diego Seastrunk said. “Guys like that, you just have to bear down and try to fight and scrap with them.”

“But the majority of the time, good pitching is going to beat good hitting.”

That is precisely why many believe the Longhorns will earn their seventh national title at the College World Series in a few weeks.

The Longhorns first must get past in-state foe TCU next weekend. But if the their starting pitchers perform as they did this weekend and for much of this season, it’s tough to believe even a fantastic club like TCU will be able to derail the Longhorns’ train to Omaha.

The Longhorns dazzled observers last season by compiling a 2.95 ERA with one of the nation’s best pitching staffs. This season, though, they’ve taken their game to another level with veterans such as Workman, Green and closer Chance Ruffin leading the charge. Jungmann, a sophomore, might as well be called a veteran, too.

Texas entered the weekend with the nation’s best ERA at 2.51. UCLA, which has a trio of fantastic weekend starters of its own in Trevor Bauer, Gerrit Cole and Rob Rasmussen, entered the weekend at No. 2 with a 3.01 ERA.

The Longhorns now have an overall ERA of 2.45 after the Austin Regional.

“It definitely takes a lot of pressure off [the offense] when you have those type of starting pitchers,” Texas designated hitter Russell Moldenhauer said. “They make us relaxed. And the more relaxed you are at the plate, the better off you are.”

In addition to the three-headed monster in the starting rotation, closer Ruffin has compiled unreal numbers this season and has a 0.73 ERA following the Austin Regional.

The Longhorns didn’t have to tap into the bullpen outside of Ruffin over the weekend. But they also have some other solid arms in the pen with Hoby Milner, Andrew McKirahan and Stayton Thomas leading the charge.

Texas coach Augie Garrido admitted after the Rice game that NCAA regional play is by far the most taxing part of the postseason on your pitching staff. Super regional play and the CWS, he said, are much easier from a pitching-plan standpoint.

The Longhorns used just four pitchers in the Austin Regional.

Imagine what may lie ahead for this team.

Fabulous Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon has an idea.

“They’re probably going to go on and win the national title,” he said.

Kendall Rogers is the college baseball editor for Yahoo! Sports and Rivals.com. Follow him on Twitter and follow Yahoo! Sports College Baseball on Facebook. Send Kendall a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.
Updated Monday, Jun 7, 2010