Joining Teagarden on the All-Tournament squad are 2B Robby Hudson, CF Drew Stubbs, RF Nick Peoples, DH Will Crouch and RHP Adrian Alaniz. But it was not announced until Thursday that Teagarden would even participate in the Regional after suffering a rib cage injury at Texas A&M on May 20.
On Thursday, head coach Augie Garrido said Teagarden would be back behind the plate (after a two-week absence) only because the junior "talked me into it." And based on Teagarden's talk last week, his only contribution would be defensive. ("I won't be hitting many home runs," he said Thursday.) But in Texas' two gut-check wins over Arkansas, Teagarden tallied seven hits in 10 at-bits, including two homers and three RBIs. In fact, half of Teagarden's six round-trippers this season have come in the past three games.
"Coming in, I was just looking to do my job behind the plate more importantly than hitting," Teagarden said. "Hitting in the bottom of the lineup (No. 7 spot), I was able to get good pitches to hit early on in the first couple of games. It just carried over the last 48 hours as far as feeling good behind the plate and hitting. With each at-bat, I was feeling better and better and better. My confidence was improving. It's just one of those things where hitting is contagious. Once you get on a roll, it just seems like it doesn't stop for a while. I think that was the case for me this weekend."
His weekend numbers include 13 hits and eight RBIs in 23 plate appearances. His batting average now stands at .345, second only to SS Seth Johnston's team-leading .384.
"Taylor was brilliant and I attribute that because he was really focused on helping the team and keeping it simple," Garrido said. "He had no expectations for himself. You hear me talking about that nasty word all the time: expectations. It's worse than profanity. It does more harm. It hurts more. It interferes with things, and he didn't have any (expectations) offensively. He just tried to keep it simple, see the ball and put the ball in play. And then he did a great job behind the plate."
Teagarden listed himself at "80 percent" heading into the Tournament but says he is "feeling pretty good now." He tallied two hits and one RBI in five appearances against overmatched Quinnipiac, but finally hit his stride when Texas staved off elimination in the Sunday afternoon win over Miami (Ohio).
"The turning point for me was the home run against Miami," he said. "I really put an easy swing on that ball but I hit it out. And I said, 'Wow. That felt fine.' After that Arkansas game, my confidence just shot through the roof. I was seeing the ball great."
But none of the seven pitchers Arkansas used the past two ball games saw a way to sit down Teagarden.
"He's one of the very best players we've faced all season," said Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn, who tried to sign Teagarden while still at Nebraska three year ago.
"The Big 12 Tournament was kind of hard because we didn't have Taylor," said Hudson, whose hot bat included six hits in nine plate appearances during the two wins over the Hogs, "but we came into this Regional fired up because we did have him. We felt that we were running on all cylinders."
It won't show up in the stat sheet but Peoples made a tide-turning grab in right field Monday that not only ignited the partisan Longhorn crowd but also lit a fuse under the Longhorn offense. The Horns trailed 1-0 but his diving grab in the top of the fourth led to a double play.
"If he doesn't make that catch, they score a run," Teagarden said. "After he makes that catch, we get the momentum, we get the crowd and we manufactured runs out of that."
Although the Hogs would tie the game at 2-2 without the benefit of a hit, Teagarden's sixth-inning homer gave Texas the lead for good on the way to a 5-2 win. The Horns advance to the Super Regional where they will face national No. 5 seed Mississippi in Oxford this weekend.
2005 AUSTIN NCAA REGIONAL ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM
Catcher: Taylor Teagarden, Texas
First Base: Paul Frietch, Miami University (Ohio)
Second Base: Robby Hudson, Texas
Third Base: John Delaney, Quinnipiac
Shortstop: Scott Hode, Arkansas
Outfield: Drew Stubbs, Texas
Outfield: Brandon Hillier, Miami University (Ohio)
Outfield: Nick Peoples, Texas
DH: Will Crouch, Texas
Pitcher: Adrian Alaniz, Texas
Pitcher: Nick Schmidt, Arkansas
Most Outstanding Player: Taylor Teagarden