Just when it speared that Texas was ready to run away and hide as the Big 12 conference leader in baseball, TCU and Oklahoma State demonstrated this Big 12 baseball weekend that they have other ideas.
The Horned Frogs and Cowboys were part of a sea change at the top of the conference standings. TCU stunned Texas, sweeping three games in Austin, while Oklahoma State took three games from Kansas. The series sweeps vaulted the Cowboys (29-11, 11-4) and Horned Frogs (26-13, 10-5) ahead of the previous front-running Longhorns, who dropped down to third.
Most weekend series in the Big 12 were completed on Saturday this week in recognition of the Easter holiday. The Oklahoma State-Kansas series in Stillwater was the only one that ran through Sunday.
Against TCU, Texas (30-11, 9-6) did not score its first and only run in the series until the first inning of the series finale. TCU’s top two weekend starters, lefty Brandon Finnegan and right-hander Preston Morrison, shut down and shut out the Texas offense, allowing four hits apiece and no runs in the first two games of the series. And on Saturday, five TCU hurlers held Texas to just one run in registering the series sweep with a 3-1 victory.
Oklahoma State got a complete game, six-hot shutout from Jon Perrin in a 7-0 win over Kansas in the first game of its series and then came back to take the final two games by similar scores of 5-3 and 6-3.
On Saturday night, after winning the first two games of its home weekend series with Baylor, Kansas State was in seventh place in the conference standings with a 4-7 league mark, but after losing the series final 3-1, the Wildcats found themselves back in last place where they started the weekend.
It’s been an especially tough season so far for Kansas State (22-18-4-8), and the Cats were hopeful of taking at least two games in this series between the conference champions of the past two years. K-State was the champion a year ago, and Baylor the year before. Baylor (18-21. 5-9) is immediately in front of the Wildcats in the standings. The Bears are the only team in the conference with a losing overall record at this point in the season.
After beating its hated in-state rival in an 18-inning game earlier in the week, Oklahoma (25-16. 5-7) was feeling good about its upcoming weekend series hosting West Virginia, which until early last week had lost seven consecutive games. The Mountaineers (19-16, 4-7) pounded the Sooners on Thursday, winning 7-0 and took the series with a 9-5 victory on Saturday. The lone game OU salvaged in the series was on Friday against West Virginia’s best pitcher, Harrison Musgrave, who threw a complete game but lost 5-3 to the Sooners.
Texas Tech (32-11, 8-7)may be the hottest team in the Big 12 right now. The Red Raider played out of the conference this holiday weekend with a three-game home set with Prairie View. Tech squeaked out a 4-3 win in the series opener, but outscored the visitors 21-0 in winning the final two games and sweeping the series. With the three wins over Prairie View, the Red Raiders extended their winning streak to eight games.
Here are some more highlights you may not be aware of from this weekend’s Big 12 action:
- The three wins by TCU over Texas represented the Horned Frogs’ second series sweep of a Big 12 opponent this season and the first on the road.
- Texas outfielder Mark Payton went 2-for-4 on Saturday, extending his on-base streak to 80 games, tops in the nation.
- The series win over Kansas was Oklahoma State’s fourth consecutive series win in Big 12 play.
- Kansas State is 20-2 this season when it outhits its opponent. The Wildcats outhit Baylor 11-7 and 13-9, respectively, in winning the first two games of the series over the weekend.
- Oklahoma scored three runs in the home half of the first inning in its series final with West Virginia. That was the first time in Big 12 play this season that the Sooners had taken the first lead in the game. OU ended up giving up 18 hits in the game, however, and lost 9-5.
- Oklahoma has played from behind in 22 of its last 22 games.
- Texas Tech’s 32-11 record is tied for the sixth best in program history.
- Three Kansas players had a multi-hit game and second-baseman Colby Wright had three hits for the Jayhawks, but they weren’t able to generate enough runs and fell 6-3 to Oklahoma State on Sunday, suffering a series sweep at the hands of the first-place Cowboys.
- Baylor is just the second team to beat Kansas State at Tointon Family Stadium this season. Kansas State was 14-2 at home in 2014 before the weekend series with Baylor. Kansas won two out of three games at K-State several weeks back.