It there is one team that stands out in the sport of baseball over the 17-year history of the Big 12 it is Texas. The Longhorns have won four conference championships, two national championships and been to the College World Series seven times during that period. This season, however, the Longhorns are struggling, based on their historical success on the diamond.
For the second time in the past three weeks, Texas lost two of three and the series to Big 12 opponents. This past weekend, Oklahoma State was the beneficiary of the Longhorn’ difficulty this season scoring runs. The Longhorns scored eight runs in capturing the first game in the OSU series on Thursday in Stillwater, but then scored three and four runs in suffering a doubleheader sweep on Saturday. Texas, with the second-best pitching staff in the conference, based on team ERA, wasn’t able to quiet the conference’s third best hitting offense in Oklahoma State.
The Longhorns (16-11 overall) have scored a total of 105 runs in 27 games, an average of under four runs per game. That is the lowest run production total in the conference. Texas dropped two of three at home to Texas Tech in its conference opener and has now dropped to the conference cellar, replacing TCU, with a 2-4 league record.
At the opposite end of the league standings, Oklahoma won two of three in Norman over visiting Kansas to increase it conference-leading mark to 5-1. Kansas pulled out the series finale with the Sooners’, scoring seven first-inning runs and then coming from behind late to take a 10-8 victory and snap the Sooners’ 13-game winning streak. Oklahoma, the preseason favorite of the league coaches to win the baseball crown this season, is 25-5 on the year and ranked 12th in the most recent USA Today Coaches Poll.
Historically, the Sooners have produced strong offensive numbers, but so far this season it is the Sooners’ dominant pitching that has provided much of the firepower. The Sooners, led by their two ace weekend starters, Dillon Overton and Jonathan Gray, have a league-best team ERA of 2.78.
Defending league-champion Baylor won two of three at home against Kansas State this weekend and moved into a second-place tie with Oklahoma State, both with records of 3-2 in conference play. In the only other conference series over Easter weekend, Texas Tech won the second game of a Sunday doubleheader to avoid a series sweep at TCU.
Three teams – Kansas State, Kansas and West Virginia - are tied at 3-3 after a couple of weeks of Big 12 play. Texas Tech (17-13, 4-5) fell to seventh place after dropping two of three at TCU, and the Horned Frogs moved up a notch out of the conference cellar, improving their conference mark to 3-6.
Next weekend’s slate of conference games has Oklahoma State at Kansas, Kansas State back home to take on Texas Tech, Oklahoma at Texas for their annual Red River Rivalry series, and West Virginia at Baylor.
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