Photo Credit: Andrew Edmonson | Daily Texan Staff

Editor's note: This article originally appeared in The Daily Texan on June 9, 2011. Former Longhorns pitcher Taylor Jungmann, profiled here, will play in Saturday's Alumni Game.

Six straight balls. Six painful errors two years ago in Omaha, one after another, that began Taylor Jungmann’s heartbreaking education as a college pitcher.

The Longhorns are clinging to a 6-4 lead in game one of the 2009 College World Series against Louisiana State. It’s the top of the ninth inning. There is one out and a man on first base. Jungmann, a freshman, comes to the mound with orders of closing the game out. Derek Helenihi is the first batter he faces, a right-handed hitter who is hitting .255 and is already 0-for-3 in the game.

Ball one. Then ball two. A third. The take sign is on for Helenihi with a 3-0 count, but Jungmann still can’t get a pitch over the plate. Ball four.

“I think I got a little ahead of myself,” Jungmann said, two years after. “I might have gotten out of the moment.”

Each time Jungmann has failed, he has gone on to succeed. Such inspiration — you could almost call it vengeance — doesn’t completely make up who he is as a pitcher, no. The sheer physicality of Jungmann has a heavy hand in his dominance: the imposing 6-foot-6 righty — from the mound he looks like some Herculean giant — can pitch all game if he has to. His elite weapons, the fastball that cuts into the catcher’s mitt around 94 mph, the slashing slider, and the deceptive change-up, leave batters clueless. But Jungmann’s quiet strength, devoid of fear or apprehension or even a perspective of the moment, and his hunger to always win, has made him the best big-game pitcher in college baseball.

Helenihi takes his free base, which puts Tigers on first and second. Jungmann, clearly rattled, throws ball one to the next batter, Tyler Hanover. Then he throws ball two.

Jungmann is pulled from the game, replaced by fellow freshman Austin Dicharry. Hanover strikes out, but a sharp double down the left-field line by the next batter, DJ LeMahieu, scores both the runner on second and Helenihi to tie the game 6-6.

The Tigers win it two innings later. Jungmann is credited with the tying run.

“Anytime you have an outing like that, you spend the whole night thinking about how you could fix it,” he said.

The next night, Jungmann redeemed himself, throwing a complete game, allowing one run on five hits and striking out nine Tigers in a 5-1 win. He threw 120 pitches that night. But still, you couldn’t help but think about the fact that, had he done his job in game one, the series would have been over and Texas would have been headed back to Austin with its seventh national championship.

“I still think about it,” he said. “I see the guys like [volunteer assistant coach] Travis Tucker who are still around here that were on the team. I think about if I were able to close that first game out, we could have won it.”

The cruelty of baseball revealed itself in game three, where Jungmann had to watch as the Tigers pounced — winning 11-4 in a runaway.

He took what he had to learn the hard way in Omaha — to not play out of the moment — and applied it to his sophomore season, winning eight games, none bigger than game two in the Super Regional against TCU. Staring down elimination — the Horned Frogs had won the first of the best-of-three series — Jungmann pitched his team to a 15-1 win.

“I try not to think about situations,” he said. “You have to try not to look at a big game differently.”

Texas forgot to save some runs, and lost it the next day 4-1.

This season, Jungmann has taken dominance to another level. Before postseason play, he was the nation’s best at 13-0, with an ERA of less than one. After he took down Texas A&M in the biggest game of the year — in College Station, no less — head coach Augie Garrido said that his ace was the best he had seen since Jered Weaver . Texas pitching coach Skip Johnson, who has groomed big-leaguers such as Clayton Kershaw and Homer Bailey, agreed with Garrido.

“I think he’s probably the best I’ve ever coached,” Johnson said. “He has a gift.”

The Big 12 Pitcher-of-the-Year Award went to Jungmann, and he’s been named one of three finalists for the Golden Spikes Award , college baseball’s Heisman Trophy. Everything was going so well for him, until rare and unexpected failure finally struck again Saturday against Kent State in the Austin Regional.

His eyes are wet and his voice is strained. It is the most uncomfortable press conference of Taylor Jungmann’s life. He has just been rocked by Kent State in a pivotal game of the Austin Regional, and now, his Longhorns are a loss away from elimination. Nobody knew how to deal with it — his teammates admit they are shocked to see their All-American pitcher get knocked out by a three-seed. Said senior first baseman Tant Shepherd : “We had never seen anything like that happen to him.” The last thing Jungmann wants to do after this loss, his first of the year, is sit in front of the hot lights and answer the media’s whys and hows.

“I just didn’t have it,” he says, staring into space.

In the sixth inning, Jungmann was mercifully pulled from the game. As he walked off the mound and into the dugout after allowing a grand slam, a walk and a single in one inning, he was given a standing ovation by the gracious Texas crowd, aware that it might never see big No. 26 on the mound at Disch-Falk again.

“By the time I was done pitching, I wasn’t happy,” he said. “I didn’t even hear them.”

Thankfully for Jungmann, the Longhorns sent Texas State and Kent State home, winning three in a row to set up this weekend’s Super Regional. Now Jungmann gets the ball Friday with the chance to redeem his reputation as the best big-game pitcher around and set the tone for a possible return trip to Omaha. And we all know how Jungmann reacts
to failure.

“I’ve been bad before,” he said, “And the next time up, it’s a totally different game.”

Former Texas cornerback Quandre Diggs chases TCU’s quarterback Traevon Boykin in the team’s battle against the Horned Frogs last Thanksgiving. Diggs and the Longhorns lost the game and finished their season with a 6–7 record.
Photo Credit: Ethan Oblak | Daily Texan Staff

Friday marks the final day of classes for those who are graduating in just a few weeks. Since arriving on the 40 Acres as freshmen in August 2011, the Class of 2015 has seen mixed results for Texas Athletics.

Longhorn Network launched a mere two days after the Class of 2015 began school. The tenures of former football coach Mack Brown and former basketball coach Rick Barnes came to a close. 

Through it all, there were some triumphs but plenty of struggles. Here are some numbers, dates and stats that define the Class of 2015’s time at the University of Texas.

3: The number of Division I national titles. In the summer of 2012, Texas men’s golf defeated Alabama 3–2 to win the program’s first title since 1972. That fall, volleyball won its first national championship since 1988 by defeating the Oregon Ducks. In March, men’s swimming and diving won its first national title since 2010 — its 11th total.

169: Losses by the major three men’s sports. Baseball, football and basketball have amassed 169 combined losses over the past four seasons, the most since the 171 total losses endured by the class of 2001. If the baseball team drops five more games, the Class of 2015 will be the
losingest senior class in school history.

21: Losses by Texas football. The Longhorns gave up 21 losses from 2011–2014, tying it with 2010–2013 and 1988–1991 for the most losses over a four-season span since 1986-1989, when the Longhorns dropped 24 games.

58.33%: Men’s basketball’s winning percentage. Texas has had its lowest win percentage over a four-season span since it only won 58.08 percent of its games from 1995–1999. Texas’ 57 losses over this time were the most the program had recorded in four seasons since the Longhorns dropped 63 games from 1983–1987.

2004: The last time the women’s basketball team advanced to the NCAA Tournament’s second weekend until this year. The No. 5-seeded Texas women knocked off No. 4-seeded Cal 73–70 in Berkeley to advance to the Sweet 16, but the Longhorns fell to the eventual champion, No. 1-seeded Connecticut Huskies, 105–54 in the Sweet 16. This was the first time making it that far since 2004.

58.26%: Baseball’s winning percentage. Texas had its lowest winning percentage since winning 57.09 percent of its games from 1998–2001. Barring winning the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Texas baseball will miss the NCAA Tournament for the third time in the Class of 2015’s four seasons
in Austin.

2013: The year softball finished the season ranked No. 3 in the country. The No. 3 ranking in 2013 was Texas’ best final ranking in program history. This also marked the team’s first appearance in the Women’s College World Series since 2006.

4: Big 12 Conference titles for volleyball. The Longhorns went 61–3 in conference play and did not lose more than one conference match in a season.

0: The number of double-digit win seasons by football, single-digit loss seasons by men’s basketball or 50 plus-win seasons by baseball. The last University of Texas class to witness none of the three feats while enrolled in school was the class of 1969.

Texas Tech sophomore Stephen Smith, left, and freshman shortstop Joe Baker have to be separated in a contentious match Sunday.
Photo Credit: Joshua Guerra | Daily Texan Staff

Late in the ninth inning Sunday, Texas Tech sophomore Stephen Smith slid hard into freshman shortstop Joe Baker. As the two barked at each other, the Texas bench ran on to the field in a rare sign of emotion for the Longhorns.

“It’s just baseball,” sophomore catcher Tres Barrera said. “We’re just sticking up for our teammate. We saw a guy went in hard. You just got to back up your guy at all times, no matter what the score is.”

The move, about protection, was equally the result of raw emotion spilling onto the field as the Texas season hung in the balance. In a must-win game, Texas faltered to Texas Tech, 5–1, in a decisive series finale, just as it has done most of this season. The Red Raiders took the series with a 2-1 advantage. 

“It’s like going to the same movie over and over again,” head coach Augie Garrido said. “We continue not to take quality at-bats with runners in scoring position. When we have opportunities to score runs, we fail offensively to take our walks and sustain the rally that we need.”

Garrido said the team entered the weekend with the hope of sneaking into the NCAA Tournament. But the Longhorns flew off the radar in front of 6,284 faithful fans Sunday as a two-run home run by Texas Tech freshman shortstop Orlando Garcia sailed over the left-field wall in the fifth inning.

Despite recording eight hits, the Longhorns failed to produce any run-scoring drives as their only run came across on a walk. Texas played 24 innings of scoreless baseball over the weekend. It plated three runs in the fifth inning of Friday’s 3–0 win and one run in each of its losses.

“We haven’t capitalized when we needed to,” Barrera said. “We haven’t been able to put timely at-bats and timely hitting when we have runners in scoring position. That’s just the way it’s been.”

Texas has a .500 record and has failed to win back-to-back Big 12 games since late March. The team also dropped three mid-week games this season against UT-Arlington, Texas A&M–Corpus Christi and Sam Houston State. The Longhorns’ struggles started in early March when the team dropped a doubleheader against San Diego.  

“We had a lot of success, a lot of fight and a lot of expectations,” Garrido said. “I think when we lost the first three-game weekend, we started to feel differently about their ability to come back and win the game. We’ve had problem with RBIs.”

The Longhorns offense started off hot but quelled as the season grew. Texas put plenty of runners on base — as it did against the Red Raiders — but failed to bring home many runs. The biggest issue that hurt the Longhorns was their focus on their batting average, Garrido said.

“We became one dimensional; we only had one goal,” Garrido said. “Anybody who’s been around baseball for a long time … they know that the biggest demon of all the ones that are around is batting average.”

With four games left in the regular season, the team’s postseason hopes likely ride on winning the Big 12 Championship, a shock considering Garrido called this team as good as the 2005 national championship team earlier this season. 

Despite all the negativity surrounding this season, the players still believe a comeback is possible, according to freshman pitcher Connor Mayes.

“[The batters] are staying with it and going through the process that coach talks about, and that’s all we can do,” Mayes said. “We might be unlucky, but we just got to stay with it.” 

First Naval Academy grad in 94 years appears in MLB game

It’s been seven years from the time Mitch Harris graduated from the United States Naval Academy and a little over two years since he finished his five years of service in the U.S. Navy. But now Harris has made his way as a major league baseball player.

Harris pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings in the St. Louis Cardinals’ 5-3 victory over Milwaukee. He struck out the first batter he faced, Adam Lind, and worked around a couple of singles and walks in his major league debut.

The Cardinals drafted the right-handed pitcher in the 13th round of the 2008 draft knowing that he would have to fulfill his commit to the U.S. Navy before he could join the organization. But, now that he has met his requirements, the Naval lieutenant, who went on three deployments, can finally play baseball.

Harris is the first Naval Academy graduate in 94 years to make an appearance in a major league baseball game since relief pitcher Nemo Gaines, who appeared in four games with the Washington Senators in 1921. Counting the minor leagues, Harris is one of nine Annapolis graduates to play baseball at a professional level.

"It's nice to finally say that the dream has begun to come true," Harris said to ESPN. "Obviously just making it is part of it, but staying is the better half."

Although Harris was sailing around the world serving his country for five years, he still found time to focus on baseball. Harris knew that he would have to keep his game and arm in check, even on boat, in order to keep his dream alive. His throwing partner was a cook from the Dominican Republic who was the only person on the ship who grew up around baseball.

“I threw on the flight deck when we could, depending on how the seas were, but it wasn’t often,” Harris told the Washington Post. “Depending on what type operations we were doing, or if I had watch, if I could do it or not. So we would if we had the opportunity.”

Harris won’t be an ordinary rookie for the Cardinals. He is 29 years old and his fastest pitch was only thrown around 80 mph when he reported to his first spring training. That only motivated Harris to get better in order to achieve his goal.

"If you tell yourself you're not going to be able to do it, you're setting yourself up for failure. So I told myself the whole time that there was going to be a time where I was going to get a chance to do this," Harris said. "And that was the best way to go about it. I'm human. There's definitely days where I thought there's no shot, no chance I was going to do this. But here we are."

Harris improvement over the offseason was obvious. He impressed many with his cutter, split-finger fastball and breaking ball and his pitch speed even hit the low-90s. He had a 1.86 ERA in eight appearances in this year for the Cardinals in spring training and posted two saves and a 2.45 ERA for Triple-A Memphis.

Harris now serves as a rare example to many that both a career in professional sports and the military are possible.

Freshman catcher Michael Cantu has made his presence known behind the plate, throwing out seven would-be baserunners this season.
Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

Trying to steal a base against freshman catcher Michael Cantu isn’t an easy task.

The feat proved especially challenging Saturday, as Cantu displayed his defensive prowess against Oklahoma. In the sixth inning, a Sooner runner tried to steal second, but the freshman made a phenomenal off-balanced throw from his knees to senior second baseman Brooks Marlow for an inning-ending out. He followed that with another equally impressive throw from his knees to freshman shortstop Joe Baker later in the game.

“Cantu did a great job throwing people out at the plate,” sophomore pitcher Kacy Clemens said after the game.

Cantu, a Corpus Christi native, has thrown out seven runners attempting to steal on him this season. He’s hitting .265 on the season and is tied for third in the Big 12 in walks with 25. The 6-foot-3, 237-pound catcher has been a bright spot throughout the season — especially when the team overall is struggling.

Although Texas dropped two out of three against the Sooners, Cantu hit .500 and drew three walks. Head coach Augie Garrido said he was impressed with Cantu’s play.

“He threw out every runner that tried to run on him,” Garrido said. “He was a very mature baseball player. If we could get everybody particularly on offense competing the way he competes — they certainly have a leader and a model to follow in him.”

Cantu came to the team with high accolades. Before coming to college, he was ranked the No. 1 catcher in the state by Perfect Game USA. Perfect Game USA also named him an underclass second-team All-American in 2013 and a third-team All-American in 2014. The Texas Sports Writers Association named him a first-team all-state catcher in 2013 and second-team in 2014. Cantu was also drafted by Chicago Cubs in the 30th round in 2014.

Cantu has proven himself with his confident play from behind the plate. Cantu said that confidence comes from his trust in himself and his baseball ability.

“You got to be confident,” Cantu said. “I was always told that there’s no age in baseball. It doesn’t matter. If you can play, you can play. That’s the big thing: You got to have confidence and trust yourself and trust that what you’ve been doing that’s got you here will keep you going.”

Although he isn’t shy about his skill, Cantu also is quick to mention his teammates and throw the spotlight off himself.

“I’ve just been trusting myself and having confidence in my teammates,” Cantu said. “I threw a guy out that Joe [Baker] caught [against Oklahoma]. The ball was up the line, and he made a great play on it. It’s just trust in ourselves and trusting our defense.”

Texas (19–18, 6–6 Big 12) hopes to live up to that trust as they continue to battle through recent struggles.

Cantu and the Longhorns will try to break out of their slump in a three-game series against Kansas starting Friday at 6 p.m. in Lawrence, Kansas.

Senior Bobby Barker tosses the ball with a partner during baseball practice on Wednesday. The tight-knit and competitive Texas club baseball team is looking forward to a successful season.

Photo Credit: Charlotte Carpenter | Daily Texan Staff

Billy Begala, a Virginia native and Plan II freshman, has loved playing baseball ever since he could walk, and he now continues to pursue that passion on UT’s club baseball team. 

His older brother’s first two words were bat and ball, which made it no surprise when Begala decided to follow suit and spend his youth on the baseball diamond.

Begala, who has been playing organized baseball since he was 5, had options to play at smaller schools on scholarship. He decided, however, to come to Texas, citing the more rigorous academic curriculum and a chance to push himself to become the best baseball player he could be as
motivating factors.

He found more here than he could have anticipated.

“I know that all my teammates care just as deeply about the game as I do, and they’ve all put in just as much hard work as I have,” Begala said.

Begala’s preparation on game day begins by arriving to the field a little over an hour before first pitch. As a pitcher, he has pre-game plans that differ depending on which role he will fill that day.

“If I’m the starting pitcher, I usually don’t talk much, and I’ll start warming up to pitch about 20–25 minutes before the game starts,” Begala said. “I try to time it so my last warm up pitch is no more than five minutes before my first live pitch. If I’m in relief, I’ll do some light tossing or just try and help any of the other guys get loose and warm.”

Begala said the final few minutes before game time have a looser, but still competitive, atmosphere.

“This is a pretty relaxed group of guys on this team,” Begala said. “Before our games, guys are usually joking around or playing music. But, once the game starts, we’re all about winning.”

That competitive spirit has anchored this team’s success.

The club team made it to the National Club Baseball Association World Series last summer, and, while that stay was short, the continuing influx of talent and wealth of veteran players make this an intriguing group moving forward.

For Begala, a rematch with Texas A&M, which the team played into a series split last time they met, and the World Series are the main attractions on the horizon.

“I can’t wait until we play A&M again,” Begala said. “After that, it’s on to regionals in Dallas and, hopefully, the World Series in Kentucky.”

Begala, who has pitched 9.2 innings with four strikeouts this season, also has plans to try out for the Longhorns varsity team — something he says has been a dream of his for a very long time.

“If I’m able to get a little bigger and stronger and start throwing a little harder, I would definitely try out,” Begala said.

While personal success is nice, Begala remains adamant that the team concept is most important to him.

“The way I see it, I have nothing to lose when trying-out for the varsity team,” Begala said. “Worst-case scenario: I’m back to where I am now, which is playing baseball at my dream school with my best friends.”

The art of trash talk in the MLB

When many people think of trash talking in sports, the first sports that come to mind are football, hockey and basketball.

Although baseball isn’t as rough or as physical as other sports, trash talk is still very present, with phrases such as “infield in” to “easy out.” Running your mouth, egging on opponents and being an annoyance are just some of the aspects of baseball many fans tend to forget.

Many players use trash talk to motivate themselves to play better by ridiculing the skill and toughness of their opponents. The goal of the art form is to get inside your opponent's head to try to take them out of the game mentally. If an opponent's mind is thinking about the trash talk, then he is not thinking about following his team’s game plan.

Many players are specifically known for their trash-talking abilities.

Atlanta Braves catcher A.J. Pierzynski has a mouth that has gotten him ejected from many games, and baseball great Satchel Paige, who was completely confident in his own abilities, would make his defense sit in the dugout while he retired the side.

Former MLB pitcher Carlos Zambrano, who played for the Chicago Cubs and the Miami Marlins, had quite a mouth as well, getting into plenty of arguments with umpires and players. Zambrano was also known to “hold the mound” for an extended period to get underneath the batter’s skin.

The tension of rivalry games, such as the ones between the Red Sox and Yankees or Cubs and White Sox, always brings some of the most exciting in-game action. It also brings out the best trash talk.

Former Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martínez, who was elected to the Hall of Fame this year, was a master of trash talk, and his biggest rival was former Yankees catcher Jorge Posada. Martínez admitted to making fun of Posada’s ears, calling him “Dumbo” after the famous cartoon elephant whose ears were so large that it enabled him to fly.

But Posada wasn’t shy either when it came to trash talk.

Martínez said there was bad blood between them after the catcher mentioned Martínez’s mother in a negative light. The bad blood eventually led to an all-out brawl in the 2003 playoffs, when Martínez threw then-72-year-old Yankees bench coach Don Zimmer to the ground. 

“Then he let it go a little bit too far with the Zimmer incident,” Martínez said on the 'Daily News Live' show earlier this year. “I did not appreciate that.”

Trash talk, at least for Martínez, sometimes resulted in intentional beanings as well.

After former Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens pegged a Red Sox player, Martínez didn’t hesitate with his retaliation and hit the next two batters he faced.

Throughout most of his career, Miami Marlins right fielder Ichiro Suzuki struggled to talk trash to opponents because he only knew his Japanese. Many players thought Suzuki could only speak English through his interpreter to reporters.

Suzuki, however, learned to speak Spanish through conversations with his teammates, so he could talk smack with some players in the MLB. 

Although he still can’t fluently speak Spanish, he was able to pick up some of the common trash-talking phrases.

“We don't really have curse words in Japanese,” Suzuki told the Wall Street Journal. “So I like the fact that the Western languages allow me to say things that I otherwise can't."

Baseball players get an adrenaline rush from the competition of the game, and competition fuels the fire of trash talk. Ultimately, the common bond between trash talkers in baseball is simple: It’s for the love of the game and winning.

Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

The Texas baseball team surrounded head coach Augie Garrido after Tuesday’s 6–4 comeback win over Texas State.

Despite the win, Garrido was visibly frustrated with the team’s performance. It was Texas’ second-straight midweek game in which they struggled, after last week’s extra-inning loss against UT-Arlington, 6–5.  

Garrido said he wasn’t upset; rather, he wanted the Longhorns to learn from their Tuesday night struggles.

“I’m not angry,” Garrido said. “I’m just trying to explain to them why we have to be disciplined and why we have to come ready to compete and what it takes to get to the next step. We’re not at the level of championship baseball.”

But No. 12 Texas (17–11, 5–1 Big 12) will look to rid itself of the midweek blues Tuesday night against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. The Longhorns host the Islanders (11–12, 3–6 Southland), who are coming off a 2–1 series loss against Stephen F. Austin. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi enters the contest having lost seven of its last eight.

The Longhorns will try to right the ship Tuesday night after a disappointing sweep against Nebraska this weekend. The Longhorns struggled at the plate, where they were held to three runs on 12 hits in the three-game series against the Cornhuskers.

The Longhorns will also look to solve their mid-week pitching problems. In Texas’ loss to UT-Arlington, starting sophomore pitcher Kacy Clemens threw four innings and only allowed one run, but Texas’ bullpen gave up five runs and blew a three-run lead in the ninth inning.

After the snafu in Arlington, Garrido moved pitcher Josh Sawyer to the Tuesday starting role in hopes of revitalizing the struggling sophomore lefty.

But in his first Tuesday start of the season, Sawyer got rocked early against Texas State. He gave up a home run on the first at-bat of the game. Sawyer only lasted three innings and gave up two runs.

“We wanted to see what [moving Sawyer] would do one way or another,” Garrido said. “We’ll find the answer to this.”

The Longhorns will need a good outing from their starting pitcher Tuesday night, as Texas looks to get return to championship-level baseball. 

“We can’t just flip that switch,” Garrido said. “If you’re going to get better, you have to learn something from last Tuesday and apply it to this Tuesday. … We have to be able to win a lot of games in a row and be able to win after you lose and win on Tuesday when you’re really tired.”

Chemical engineering senior GJ Sequeira had offers to be a preferred walk-on at Vanderbilt or Rice, but he decided to come to Texas with hopes of playing at Disch-Faulk Field. When those plans fell through, he found his way onto Texas’ club baseball team, and he is making quite the impact.

During his freshman year, Sequeira did not make the varsity squad under head coach Augie Garrido. He then failed to make the club team.

Sequeira still wanted to play ball, though, so he started playing in a fast-pitch adult baseball league and intramural softball.

“I kind of used that as incentive,” Sequeira said. “If they didn’t want me, then I was going to work as hard — if not harder — to [make sure] I’m always improving.”

Sequeira still did not play for the collegiate or club baseball teams during his sophomore year either, but he continued to train. He worked with Jason Kanzler, then-Minnesota Twins minor leaguer, Genesis Fitness and Performance in Houston as well as other high school and college players with similar aspirations.

A year later, as a junior, Sequeira finally made a team — becoming part of the 25-man club team.

He wasn’t satisfied just making the team; he wanted to be a contributor. Sequeira spent extra time in the batting cage and consistently studied videos of his swings and throwing motions to determine how he could improve.

“He’s got one of the best work ethics of anyone I’ve ever played with,” team president Blake Sandall said. “He’s always at practice and will regularly stay late to hit on his own.”

Sequeira worked his way into the starting lineup, becoming the definition of a utility player. He found himself at seven different positions, only failing to make an appearance at catcher and first base.

With Texas on the brink of missing out on regionals in a close game with A&M last season, Sequeira drove a two-strike curveball up the middle for the game-winning run, keeping the group’s run alive. The club team ultimately advanced to the National Club Baseball Association World Series over the summer — but only for a short stay.

Texas was eliminated in two games, and Sequeira could only watch from during the second match because of full-body cramps.

“It was disappointing because I couldn’t help my team physically,” Sequeira said. “But, I used that as incentive to train harder and make sure that anything like that doesn’t
happen again.”

During the offseason, Sequeira did various aerobic trainings to get rid of lactic acid in order to ensure he wouldn’t get cramps again. Many of his teammates have noticed, commenting on his added speed and strength.

“He does everything the right way,” freshman pitcher Connor Kraus said. “From warm-ups to practice, he takes everything seriously, and
it shows.”

The extra work is paying dividends for him and Texas this season thus far. Sequeira has evolved into a senior leader and boasts a .375 batting average and a .444 on-base percentage in league play. Beyond his personal improvements, Sequeira has helped the team earn a 6–1 league record and tie for first place with Texas A&M in the Gulf Coast League South Division. The club team is staring another World Series appearance directly in the eyes.

“I had to prove myself every step of the way,” Sequeira said. “Every opportunity I got, I had to make sure that I made the most out of it. I try to make that a point to the new players coming in. Whatever position or situation you come in, do your best to perform in it.”

MLB: pace of the game

For years, baseball fans have complained about how long an average baseball game lasts: around three hours and two minutes in 2014. Their complaints have been reconciled.

In his first year as MLB commissioner, Rob Manfred is doing his best to speed up the game. Manfred announced on Friday that significant changes are being made to speed up the pace of an average baseball game. These moves hope to accelerate the instant-replay process and decrease the average game time.

The new rules changes will require hitters to keep one foot in the batter’s box at all times, establish a time limit for breaks between innings and speed up the process of challenging a call during the game.

The rule changes will be implemented during spring training and the MLB will evaluate the results after the season.

“The most fundamental starting point for improving the pace of the average game involves getting into and out of breaks seamlessly,” MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said in a news release. “In addition, the batter’s box rule will help speed up a basic action of the game.”

Another element added to the rule change is the installation of timers on the outfield scoreboards and behind home plate. Immediately following the last out of a half inning, the timer will count down from two minutes and 25 seconds for locally televised games and two minutes and 45 seconds for national games. The next hitter is expected to be in the batter’s box with 20 seconds left on the clock.

There will obviously be some exceptions to these rules, including if the pitcher or the catcher were the last out of the inning or on base. These rules will be enforced through a warning and fine system but no fines or warnings will be granted during spring training or April 2015.

Another component to the rule change is that managers will no longer have to walk on the field to issue an instant replay challenge. The manager may make the call from the top-step in the dugout.

"After a year of just going out there and biding time and having friendly conversations with an umpire, I think we got tired of going through that whole charade," Philadelphia Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "I used to take my time going out there. To just get to the top step of the dugout and hold play for a second and then get the replay, which takes about 10 or 12 seconds, I think that's all good. I think it's all for the betterment of the game.

One rule that is not in place yet is the 20-second pitch clock, where pitchers would only have 20 seconds between deliveries. No plans have scheduled this rule change in the majors but it was implemented in the Arizona Fall League last year and will be utilized in Double-A and Triple-A in the upcoming season.

Hopefully Manfred’s rule changes will speed up the game and eventually make baseball America’s sport again.