After the weekend, three teams are now tied for the lead in Big 12 baseball and three others are within a game and a half of the leaders. That sets up a horse race to the wire with just two weekends remaining in the 2013 regular season.
West Virginia, in its first year in the Big 12, won two of three from Oklahoma over the weekend to close out its home schedule against Big 12 opponents and move to the top of the standings along with the Sooners and Kansas State. It was the third consecutive Big 12 series win for the Mountaineers, now with an 11-7 record in league play.
“We told our guys before the game…mediocre teams take days off, take at bats off and take pitches off,” West Virginia head coach Randy Mazey said. “Now that you’ve proven ylourself to be capable of winning this thing, you can’t take a day off, and we didn’t today (in a 9-6 win in the rubber game of the series).”
The Wildcats (34-15, 11-7) took two of three over struggling Texas over the weekend to grab a share of the conference lead with just a couple of weeks left to go before postseason play begins.
Baylor, which was in a virtual tie with Oklahoma after last weekend’s action, found the going extremely rough this past weekend, dropping all three of its games at Kansas. All three Kansas wins were by a single run.
Jayhawk head coach Ritchie Price called the three wins over the defending conference champion Bears three of the best wins a team can have in a season. “What a difference one weekend can make,” Price said. “Those are three of the greatest wins you can have in a season, and it was almost a microcosm of what we had last weekend at West Virginia, where we could have won all three but dropped all three.”
Both Kansas (30-18, 12-9) and Kansas State (34-15, 11-7) have made marked improvement over where they stood a year ago and have assured themselves of a winning season. Both schools won only seven conference games last season.
That also means that there will be a lot more at stake in this coming weekend’s in-state showdown than just Sunflower State bragging rights. The two teams will square off in Lawrence in a criticl three-game series. The outcome of this series could have an important impact on the final regular season standings. It will be the Jayhawks final Big 12 weekend of the regular season.
Meanwhile, another in-state rivalry series will be going over the coming weekend between Bedlam Series foes Oklahoma (34-14, 11-7) and Oklahoma State (34-12, 9-8). Oklahoma State won its series at Texas Tech this past weekend, taking the final game on Sunday. Despite their relative separation in the league standings (OU is tied for first, OSU is currently in sixth place), both teams are nationally ranked and have virtually the same overall records. In 274 games between the two bitter Bedlam rivals, only six games separate the two. Oklahoma State leads the overall series 135-129 and owns a 26-20 advantage since the Big 12 was formed.
Anything can happen when these two schools meet each other on the athletic field, and a lot will certainly be on the line when they meet on the baseball diamond this weekend.
West Virginia (29-20, 11-7) finishes out with three games this weekend at TCU (23-24, 8-10), winners of four of its last six games, after taking two of three from Baylor a week ago and two of three on the road at Southern California this past weekend. Then the Mountaineers will face another tough road test, traveling to Oklahoma State for its final series of the regular season and, possibly, a Big 12 title on the line.
Chances are very good, however, that the three-game series between Oklahoma and Kansas State in Manhattan on the final weekend of the regular season will decide this season’s conference champion as well as the top seed for the Big 12 Championship to follow. In case you’re curious, OU lead the all-time series 146-53, but the teams have split the last 12 games.
So after almost two months of head-to-head conference action, it now all boils down to what happens over the next 13 days. It’s a six-team race with the most important series of the season dead ahead.
Follow all big 12 sports and all 10 conference teams all year long at Talking12.com.