UT's Jungmann turns it around
OMAHA, Neb. -- Having just thrown his 126th pitch of the night, a 2-2 curveball to strike out LSU's
Contrast that with his exit from Jungmann's ill-fated relief appearance in the ninth inning of Monday's Game 1 in which he threw six pitches -- all balls -- and after he was removed, mid-batter, the 6-foot-6 freshman steadily paced off the mound with nary an emotion, extraneous twitch or desire to hustle.
In Game 2, however, Jungmann dominated from the start, striking out nine and allowing only five hits, two walks and one unearned to force a deciding Game 3 Wednesday night.
"Saved it for the end," he said.
Jungmann was talking about throwing his first college complete game, but it's true about his best contributions to the Longhorns, too. The power pitcher from Georgetown, Texas, told pro scouts he wasn't interested in being drafted out of high school, where he was the Gatorade state player of the year as a senior (14-0 with a 0.77 ERA), meaning he fell to the Angels in the 24th round. He didn't make his first Big 12 start until May 3 against Baylor, but is now, at 11-3, the staff's winningest pitcher to go with a 2.00 ERA and 101 strikeouts in 94 2/3 innings.
When spring semester workouts started up after the holiday break, his teammates noticed that Jungmann had implemented what he learned in fall practice.
"He learned he couldn't just throw the ball as hard as he wanted to," said third baseman
But even the normally unflappable Jungmann -- in describing his emotions before that first conference start, he only admitted, "I've started a game before" -- took his Game 1 clunker hard.
"[Monday] night was a little embarrassing for me," he said. "I thought about it a lot."
He had even more time to think on Tuesday thanks to a thunderstorm passing through, with intermittent downpours and a lightning show delaying the start an hour and 34 minutes. But it might have been a blessing for Jungmann, considering the conditions of the afternoon, so bad that the National Weather Service had issued an excessive heat warning, as the mid-afternoon temperature reached 98 and an infernal heat index of 116.
The rain, however, managed to cool Omaha down to a more manageable first-pitch temperature of 82 and leave the fan with a parting gift of a pair of dim but full parallel rainbows arcing over the Desert Dome in right field. And it made the evening a whole lot less taxing on Jungmann.
He was a completely different pitcher in Game 2, having had the benefit of his normal routine before a start. And after the game, his catcher,
"He was going all the way," Rupp said.
Jungmann took the wind out of LSU's sails. The Tigers, after all, had won 14 straight games, dating back to its title run through the losers' bracket of the SEC tournament. Omaha has become a secondary home for LSU, thanks to its five national titles from 1991 to 2000 and an ardent fan base that travels well to the College World Series, so much so that many local residents have adopted the Tigers. Easily 60 percent of the 21,871 fans at Rosenblatt were cheering for LSU. Before the game and before the rain, LSU baseball coach
But Texas provided Jungmann with some early run support, initially on
"The best thing for a pitcher's curveball is a four-run lead," UT coach
And when you hit as many as the Longhorns have in the final series -- seven in two games -- that's a fine strategy. Small ball, or Augie Ball as it's known in Austin, is about playing for one run at a time. Well, a solo home run is just that, even if it's not the most common rendition thereof.
There's been no better practitioner than Moldenhauer, who's been an even later bloomer than Jungmann. Moldenhauer, an early third-round pick (also of the Angels) out of high school, turned down a sizable offer to play at Texas. He produced a pair of All-Big 12 honorable mention seasons before dislocating his left kneecap on a swing in last year's NCAA regionals, when his spike caught in the ground as he pivoted on a swing. After surgery and long rehab, the junior barely played at the start of the season, entering the College World Series with a .234 average in just 64 at bats, with no home runs.
Playing a hunch, Garrido inserted him in the cleanup spot for an early game in Omaha, and Moldenhauer delivered a home run. Since then, he's been Texas' best option in the No. 4 hole and has tied a CWS record with four homers -- yep, all solo.
Moldenhauer admits that he has tinkered with his stance a number of times this season, before finally settling on one that makes him comfortable. He's added a small leg kick to start his swing, which he says keeps his weight back longer.
"I'm just seeing the ball well," Moldenhauer said.
Mainieri decided to save his staff's co-ace,
Good thing, too, as the Texas relievers might have exhausted themselves before the game playing with their new toy, an inflatable whale they have taken to calling
But in a winner-take-all Game 3, everyone will be ready, in this dream CWS final. Facing Ranaudo will be UT's 6-foot sophomore
"One game and I have the ball?" Green said after the game, adding a shoulder shrug and a sly smile. "That about sums it up."