Baseball: UT wins two games, loses top player

The Texas baseball team opened the season with a doubleheader sweep of Concordia, but Wednesday's off-the-field loss overshadows the two wins over the D-III Tornados.

The loss came before the Horns even stepped foot on the Disch-Falk turf for the opener. Wednesday morning, Augie Garrido announced that sophomore starting shortstop Omar Quintanilla would "not be eligible to compete for an indefinite period of time." In a statement issued through UT, Quintanilla said, "I feel extremely bad about this situation and am very disappointed about missing games this year, but I have some eligibility issues that need to be resolved. I plan to deal with these issues and return to my team as soon as possible."

Asked after the team's pair of 7-1 wins over Concordia about Quintanilla's status, Garrido said there is no timeframe for his return. "There are more unknowns than knowns right now," the head coach said. "We don't even know if we have all the right info yet." Garrido did express his belief that the punishment for Quintanilla's as yet unannounced transgression would be a suspension on the scale of games rather than seasons, but when the NCAA is involved in doling out punishment in regards to an eligibility issue -- which seems to be the case here -- there is little certainty.

Garrido does know this: with top hitters Ben King and Quintanilla out, King for the season with an elbow injury and Quintanilla indefinitely, the Horns are "gonna have to be a scrappy team." Texas scrapped for seven runs in both games of the double header despite totaling just nine hits per game.

Other than at shortstop, where freshman Michael Hollimon took over for Quintanilla, at least two players per position saw action Wednesday. Garrido, though, left the starting line-up and the batting order the same in both contests: 3B Brandon Fahey leading off, followed by CF Eric Sultemeier, RF Matt Rosenberg. C Ryan Hubele, 1B Jeff Ontiveros, DH Ryan France, LF Chris Carmichael, SS Hollimon and 2B Tim Moss. If those names sound familiar to you, they should. All but Fahey and Hollimon are Longhorn veterans.

Hollimon went two-for-five with a homer in his Longhorn debut. Carmichael totaled four hits in his five at-bats and Fahey reached base safely three times in his five official at-bats.

Ten UT pitchers combined to limit Concordia to two total runs in the double dip, with sophomore southpaw Justin Simmons picking up where he left off last season, pitching four innings of scoreless ball to earn the win in game one. Junior transfer Alan Bower nabbed the win in the nightcap with his two scoreless innings to start the game. The Horns played error-free ball behind the guys on the mound.

Getting the leadoff man on and then around to score marked the strongest part of the offense Wednesday, Garrido said, while the coach called baserunning the weakest link at this very early date.

Regardless, the head coach and the players, after seeing Tuesday's scheduled opener vs. UTA cancelled because of weather, seemed relieved despite the typically Arctic-like February feel at the Disch to finally get out on the field in a non-intrasquad game.

"We needed to play someone besides ourselves before Houston," the Texas head coach said, recalling last season's trip to the Bayou City where the Horns lost three one-run contests. This weekend, UT will look to reverse that record at (soon-to-be-renamed) Enron with games vs. TCU, Houston and Louisiana-Lafayette on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

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