“The truth of the matter is we played a below-average game against a very good team, and they had the ability to capitalize on it and penalize us severely for the mistakes or the gifts or the poor decisions. We gave them extra base runners. We gave them free bases. We gave them extra outs within the framework of the inning and they're too good to do that.” – Texas head coach Augie Garrido following his team’s loss to Florida on Saturday
“We’re very confident with Kent on the mound in particular, because I think he’s going to give us a good outing. We base that on past history and what he’s been able to do for us, so I don’t think he’ll be intimidated or nervous. Hopefully he stays under control like he has been.” – UNC head coach Mike Fox on starting pitcher Kent Emanuel
Season to Date: No. 7 national seed Texas enters Monday’s elimination game with a 49-18 (19-8 Big 12) record. The Longhorns rank 10th nationally in the RPI Index and boast a 20-10 record against RPI Top-50 competition, including an 8-5 mark against RPI Top-25 opponents. Head coach Augie Garrido’s club is 5-0 in elimination games this postseason in NCAA Tournament play.
CWS Results: Texas lost to Florida, 8-4, on Saturday night. The Longhorns jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the third inning, but the Gators scored in five of their next six innings in rocking Lone Star ace Taylor Jungmann for four earned runs in 4.1 IP. Texas managed just two base runners over its final six innings.
Green Tabbed Monday Starter: Senior right-hander Cole Green will take the mound against North Carolina. The Coppell, Tex. native owns an 8-3 record with a 3.03 ERA. His 103:19 strikeout-to-walk ratio is staggering, although that stat is slightly misleading when you factor in his 15 HBP. Green has allowed 84 hits in 104.0 innings pitched. He started two games in the 2009 College World Series, topping Arizona State, 4-3, after allowing two earned runs and eight hits in 6.0 innings, before getting knocked out of the deciding championship game against LSU in the third inning (4 ER, 5 hits in 2.0 IP).
Strength on the Mound: Texas ranks second nationally with a 2.27 earned run average. Seven pitchers with at least 17.0 innings pitched own ERAs south of 2.75. Closer Corey Knebel has been dominant in late-game situations, racking up 19 saves and a 3-2 record in 38 appearances. The freshman righty has struck out 61 while walking 12 and has given up 28 hits in 55.2 innings pitched.
Problems at the Plate: The Longhorns rode into Omaha with a .272 batting average, good for 207th nationally. That number dropped to .271 after Texas managed just five hits – four singles and a double – against Florida. Erich Weiss (.353, 4 HR, 45 RBI) and Brandon Loy (.346, HR, 30 RBI) have been solid swinging the bat all season long, but Tant Shepherd (.304, 5 HR, 41 RBI) is the only other Longhorn hitting .300 or better. Four other regular starters are batting under .250.
Bunting Bonanza: Texas is tied for 231st nationally in home runs (17) and 82nd in runs scored (349), which helps explain why Garrido leans heavily on the small ball approach. The Longhorns lead the country with 110 sacrifice bunts on the season, 21 more than second-place UNC Greensboro.
Postseason Recognition: Taylor Jungmann earned first-team All-America honors from Baseball America and Louisville Slugger last week, as well as being tabbed the Big 12 Pitcher of the Year. Knebel picked up Freshman Pitcher of the Year honors from the NCBWA and Collegiate Baseball in addition to a second-team All-America selection from Baseball America.
Series History: Saturday’s game marks the first-ever meeting between these two programs.