OMAHA, Neb. -- The way Texas Coach Cliff Gustafson and his players see it, the Longhorns lost the College World Series championship game Sunday before Wichita State even came up to bat.
Texas failed to score in the first inning after getting runners at first and third base with none out. Winning pitcher Kevin Brummett thwarted the Longhorns by picking David Tollison off first base and then striking out Scott Bryant, the NCAA leader in RBI, and Arthur Butcher.
The Shockers went on to take the national baseball title 5-3.
Gustafson said Brummett's fake to third to get Tollison at first 'was an excellent, excellent pickoff move.
'It was a big, big play because we started out with both barrels blazing,' said Gustafson, who has coached Texas to two national championships and three second-place finishes. 'When you give them an out in the first third of the inning like that, it changes the entire scene for the pitcher, our hitter -- everyone.'
It had an affect on Texas first baseman David Lowery.
'We've always gotten off to fast starts here, so it was a big blow when Tollison got picked off first and we didn't score,' Lowery said. 'After that, it seemed like everytime we got something going, they stopped us.'
Texas' error-filled second inning left Gustafson at a loss for words.
'I really don't know how you explain that,' the Texas coach said. 'Not getting the guy in the rundown caused us to give up two runs in the inning that we could have gotten out of without any. That really turns out to be the difference in the ballgame.'
Texas reliever Brian Dare, who pitched the final 7 1-3 inning, thought Wichita State's early runs 'put a damper on our offense.
'It got everybody down,' Dare said. 'They were kind of cheap runs. But if you can score like that, you can win. That was the difference.'
Texas sliced Wichita State's lead to 3-2 with the help of two Wichita State errors. Pat Meares, however, smashed a two-run homer off Dare in the fifth to push the Shocker lead back to 5-2.
'I got a little lazy when I threw the change-up and he (Meares) hit it out of the park,' Dare said about the home run which scored the only two earned runs against him in 14 1-3 innings pitched at the College World Series.
'Even though I pitched better than I had hoped to, I can't be satisfied under the circumstances and the stakes we were playing for.'
And neither was Bryant, who would like to have the first two innings back.
'We just didn't play real well early in the game,' Bryant said. 'We gave them a couple runs, and in a game like this, you can't afford to do that.'