While I got ya, here are nine things and one crazy prediction:
1. Matteo Bocchi always brings the cheese. The Texas right-hander from Parma, Italy who always brings back a 10-pound block of Italy’s finest cheese — Parmesan, naturally — to share with his teammates threw a masterful five innings of one-run ball Monday to pace the Longhorns to the super regional championship. Coach David Pierce said he hadn’t sampled it yet “but I know it’s good.” He joked the decision to start Bocchi after only three starts all year “was a good choice because he probably didn’t quite understand the magnitude of it all.” Did you know Pierce and his staff were recruiting infielder Masen Hibbeler out of Odessa College, and Hibbeler told them to check out his roommate Bocchi? Bocchi said his first memory of college baseball was watching a Longhorns-Aggies game when he was 9 years old. He was amazingly calm for the biggest start of his career. Of course, he did say he went to sleep at 8 p.m. the night before.
2. Texas will aim for some payback in its College World Series opener against Arkansas on Sunday — the Razorbacks beat the Longhorns twice in March by a combined score of 20-9 with 23 hits, plummeting UT to a 9-9 record. However, the two Texas starters back then were Beau Ridgeway and Nico O’Donnell, who were smashed for 10 runs over a combined 5 2/3 innings, and neither threw a pitch in the six NCAA post-season games. The Hogs are an impressive 5-0 against Texas, Texas Tech and Florida in their bracket.
3. The deadline for Austin Country Club members to vote on the future of the WGC-Dell Match Play tournament beyond next year is end of work day Wednesday. Sources at the club tell me they’re expecting it to pass with an estimated 65 percent of the vote — down from 92 percent the first year — to extend the agreement four more years. The PGA Tour is guaranteeing the club a minimum of $1 million a year, which would make the Dell tourney one of the top-10 most profitable non-majors in golf.
4. Mack Brown grew up in Cookeville, Tenn., the home of Tennessee Tech, which lost to Texas in the super regional. But maybe you didn’t know that the former Longhorns football coach was a pitcher and infielder on that town’s first integrated Little League baseball team called Brown & Watson Sporting Goods. The team would occasionally make stops on road trips where bathrooms were segregated and restaurants wouldn’t allow his black teammates to eat. They would continue until they found a place that would welcome every player. Brown said he was fortunate that his father Melvin and granddad Eddie “Jelly” Watson “understood equality and instilled that value in me at a very young age.”
5. Super regional tidbits: Lost in the excitement of Texas’ win over Tennessee Tech was the bold hit-and-run that Pierce called that allowed Tate Shaw to reach second on what otherwise would have been a double play. … I know a lot of fans get bent out of shape when opposing players toss the Horns down, but the Golden Eagles players and head coach Matt Bragga couldn’t have been classier in defeat. First baseman Chase Chambers, who chided Nolan Kingham when the Texas pitcher barked at a Tech player after a come-backer, was totally gracious, raved about Kody Clemens and said he’ll root for the Longhorns to do well in Omaha. If I ran a Power 5 or any top baseball program, he’d been near the top of my search list even if he did pitch to Kody Clemens, whom he called “an animal, and I mean that in the best possible way.” Are you listening, Rice? … You want weird? Texas played six games in the regional and super regional and never once used a pinch-hitter. … Isn’t it interesting that Roger Clemens named all his sons with first names starting with the letter K, but none ended up being a pitcher?
6. Looking forward to a new book by co-authors Gaylon Finklea Hecker of Austin and Marianne Odom of Tyler about Texans and their childhoods. Included in the interviews of 49 Texans are chapters about six sports giants: Nolan Ryan, A.J. Foyt, Jerry LeVias, Leon Coffee, Ben Crenshaw and Dan Jenkins. LeVias, the first black scholarship football player in the SWC at SMU, lived with his grandmother in Magnolia Spring and said they didn’t have a car or electricity. “We had to go to Kirbyville in a wagon 25 miles away. We had mules. No lights in the house. We were happy every month or so when a new Sears & Roebuck catalog came along. Made a little tissue paper.” Ryan, the all-time strikeout king who grew up as one of six kids in Alvin, said, “We always ate as a family. We never ate outside the house. If we ever got an ice cream cone outside the house, that was something special because there wasn’t any income for it.” Coffee, a Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame clown who was raised in a former slave colony in the Hill Country, fell in love with bull riding and became the class clown to disguise difficulty reading because of undiagnosed dyslexia.
7. Incoming Texas freshman Pierceson Coody of Plano West will show up with some terrific clippings. He won the Byron Nelson Junior Championship at Lakewood Country Club last week for his second straight win after capturing the AJGA Thunderbird International Junior on May 30. He shot a final-round 4-under 67 to overcome a two-shot deficit. Coody will join his twin brother Parker and Cole Hammer at UT this fall. Coody sank three 20-footers for birdies and had eight birdies in his last round. Their father Kyle played for Texas from 1983-87, and their grandfather, Charles Coody, is a former Masters champion.
8. Scattershooting while wondering whatever happened to former Longhorns first baseman Jose Tolentino, who became a U.S. citizen during his last season at Texas and who shocked everyone with a bunt single at Omaha.
9. Rented “Hostiles” with such high hopes. Big fan of Christian Bale and Rosamund Pike. But this is one sloooow-moving Western. Gave it four ducks.
10. Crazy prediction: An SEC team will not win the College World Series.
BOHLS, GOLDEN PODCAST
Catch columnists Kirk Bohls and Cedric Golden during their weekly “On Second Thought” podcasts, which pop up on Thursdays. This week’s guest is Texas baseball coach David Pierce, who has guided Texas to the College World Series.
HOW CRAZY WAS HE?
Looking back at Kirk’s crazy prediction from June 14, 2017 — that a relief pitcher would win a Cy Young Award in 2017 … which didn’t happen.