West Virginia was riding sky high a week ago, in first place in the conference after a two-game sweep of Baylor. Less than a week later, however, and after this Big 12 baseball weekend and three straight losses at TCU, the Mountaineers went from first to almost worst in the league standings.
After Friday’s 4-3 TCU victory, the Horned Frogs and Mountaineers played a doubleheader on Saturday. TCU swept both games. holding the West Virginia bats virtually silent in game one. TCU starter Preston Morrison threw a masterful one-hit, complete-game shutout in the front end of Saturday’s twin bill as the Horned Frogs prevailed 8-0. In the night cap, TCU (19-12, 4-5) broke up a 1-1 tie, pushing across two fifth-inning runs when two were out to give TCU a 3-1 victory.
The three-game sweep was by TCU in Big 12 play in the Horned Frogs’ second season in the conference.
The Mountaineers fell to 2-3 in the Big 12 standings after the weekend of action and dropped them to eighth place, just a game ahead of last-place Kansas State (18-13, 2-4).
K-State got off to a great start in its weekend series with in-state rival Kansas, making efficient use of its offense in scoring 10 runs on as many hits in a 10-0 whitewash of the Jayhawks on Friday. The trouble was, that’s about all the offense the Wildcats could muster in the final two games of the series. Kansas (21-11, 5-4) came back for victories on Saturday and Sunday to take the Sunflower Showdown series from their rivals 75 miles to the West.
The series loss to the Jayhawks was the first at home for head coach Brad Hill’s defending conference-champion Wildcats since 2012.
“Any series loss hurts, there is no question about that,” Hill said, “but probably more than anything else it is losing at home. Losing a series at home hurts, no matter who it is.”
No. 8-ranked Texas was the big winner of the weekend, vaulting into the conference lead with a three-game sweep of Baylor at home. The Longhorns (26-7) upped their league-leading record to 6-3. Texas capped off the three-game series sweep with a stellar eight-inning pitching performance from right-hander Nathan Thornhill, who gave up just two hits in his eight innings of work. John Curtis came on for Texas in the ninth to close out the victory.
Baylor had won two out of three from the Longhorns the last two season. Texas came from behind to score three runs in its last at bat in Friday’s series opener to ruin a brilliant pitching outing by Baylor’s Brad Kuntz, who had given up just three runs on four hits in eight innings. The Longhorns took the second game of the series 6-3 on Saturday.
Oklahoma State also gained ground in the conference standings, taking two of three from 25th-ranked Texas Tech (24-11, 5-7). The Cowboys, ranked 20th nationally in last week’s poll, came from behind in the series finale, scoring four runs each in the seventh and eighth innings for an 8-3 victory.
The way his team came back late in the game on Sunday was gratifying to OSU head coach Josh Holliday after his team suffered 1 16-3 beatdown on Saturday to the Red Raiders.
Said Holliday: “To fall behind against a very good pitcher and to pull out that energy late was a really positive step for our team. It was a great team effort – a lot of guys were involved there in the seventh and eighth innings.”
Oklahoma was the only team playing out of conference this weekend. The Sooners swept three games at home from Bakersfield to raise their overall record to 23-10. OU returns to Big 12 action next weekend with a huge series in Norman with conference-leading Texas.