"It definitely has a special meaning," Texas Coach Augie Garrido said,
in an interview broadcast on "Titan Talk with Coach Horton" on Wednesday
In Garrido's first games in Fullerton since leaving for Texas after the
1996 season, his Longhorns play UCLA Friday afternoon before the emotional
match-up everyone's been waiting for - national champion Texas vs. 11-1
Fullerton on Saturday night.
"Fullerton and all the people connected to it play a very large part of
my heart," Garrido said. "And so it does have a special meaning. It's going
to be a lot of fun and it's going to be some quality baseball."
It's hard to believe Garrido's been gone for more than six seasons. It
only seems like yesterday when the Mark Kotsay-led Titans tore through
Stanford, Tennessee and USC in Omaha to win the 1995 College World Series.
With national titles in 1979 and 1984, Garrido left for Austin as a bona
fide college baseball legend. UT's faith in Garrido finally paid off last
season with the program's fifth national title.
The Longhorns come to Fullerton at 12-3 - a shaky 12-3, if there is such
a thing. Texas lost two of three at home last weekend in its only games
against a ranked opponent.
Of particular concern to Garrido are the Longhorns' 29 errors. On the
upside, Texas has swiped 37 bases in 44 tries.
"From my point of view, we have a lot of work to do from the defensive side," Garrido said.
"We have the athletes â€¦ and have a good balance of
right- handed and left- handed hitting in the lineup. We have a little bit of
speed in the lineup."
The Longhorns get to face the Titans' best - Wes Littleton (2-0, 3.18
The Team USA hurler Littleton is moving from his usual Friday slot to
Saturday against Texas - and this might be a permanent shift.
As the Titans' leader in innings pitched (28.1), Littleton has the best
chance to give Fullerton a complete game on Saturday, thus freeing up
relievers to work both Fridays and Sundays, said Coach George Horton.
"We understand it's (the rotation) not broke," Horton said. "He's
(Littleton) also our pitcher that goes deepest into the game. The way relief
pitching works is that, if you can get an 8 or 9-inning performance on
Saturday, then your relievers go Friday, and then they're rested Saturday and
can go on Sunday."
The Titans might get a look at Texas flame thrower J.P. Howell
(1-0, 1.56 ERA, 16 strikeouts, 17.1 IP). If you remember, the wild, strike
zone-challenged Howell was a bust a USC last season and was apparently headed
down to Fullerton before making a sudden left turn to Austin.
If you thought this season's Kia Baseball Bash is something -
just wait until next year. USC, Georgia Tech and Oklahoma are set to come to
Goodwin Field. Like this season's field, a former Titans coach will be coming
to town - Sooners skipper Larry Cochell(1988-90 at Fullerton).
The Titans have "arrogance"-- and Horton said he couldn't be
happier. "This team has that arrogance, that confidence," the coach said. "This particular group of Titans loves to win. You can see it every day in
practice they really want to win. It's going to take great effort by the
opponent to get a win against us."