Every week we cull out news items of interest and even a bit out of the ordinary in addition to notable developments happening in and around Big 12 baseball, and add in some of what the guys on the field are talking about. Here is this week’s offering:
TCU joined Texas, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech in this week’s top-25 national rankings. The Horned Frogs reveled in a sweep of the formerly first-place Longhorns this past weekend. The Frogs were rewarded for their performance with a No. 14 ranking in thus week’s Collegiate Baseball rankings, one spot ahead of Texas and one behind the new conference leader, Oklahoma State. The Cowboys climbed as high as ninth in the National College Baseball Writers poll.
Texas is now No. 10 in the other three major polls (USA Today, NCBWA and Baseball America). Texas Tech checks in at No. 21 this week in the USA Today poll. That is the Red Raiders’ highest national ranking since 2005.
Why run when you can walk yourself to victory? The new conference front runners after last weekend, Oklahoma State, ranks seventh in the Big 12 with a team batting average of .266, but the Cowboys are third in the league in on-base percentage. If they can’t hit themselves on base, the Cowboys have found out that walking to first is just as easy. OSU leads the Big 12 and is fifth nationally with 208 walks so far this season. That’s 17 more bases on balls that the Cowboy hitters have received then the second best team in the league in this category.
While on the subject of walking – in this context, walking off - Oklahoma State has three walk-off wins this season. The Cowboys are hard to beat in close games under most circumstances this year. They are 8-0 in one-run games.
Oklahoma head coach Pete Hughes after the Sooners rebounded for a 5-3 win after being shutout 7-0 at home in the first game of the West Virginia series: “You should never as a college athlete come out with no energy. They came out and hopefully they can see the difference in coming out with some energy and some life and some competitiveness. We are a different team when we do that. But that is predicated off a good start, too. You can talk about energy and rah-rah, but if you don’t have a good start, it deflates everyone.”
Oklahoma and Oklahoma State went 18 innings last Tuesday before the Sooners pulled out a 12-9 win in Stillwater. It was the longest game in the Big 12 since 2012, but it was not the longest game, in terms of innings played, in conference history. That belongs to Texas in a 25-inning game.
West Virginia is the only Big 12 team with multiple players in the league top 10 through all games in both batting and ERA. Three Mountaineer players rank in the top 10 in batting average (Bobby Boyd, .380, leads the conference; Billy Fleming, .353; Ryan McBroom, .331). On the pitching side of the ledger: John Mean is 4-1 with an ERA of 1.41; Harrison Musgrave, last season’s Big 12 Pitcher of the Year, is 3-3 in 10 starts with an ERA of 2.18.
Kansas State head coach Brad Hill on the impressive performance of Baylor starting pitcher Daniel Castano (8 innings, 6 hits, 1 run, 6 strikeouts, 0 walks) to salvage the final game of the series and prevent a K-State sweep: “(Castano) threw a great game – what a competitor. That guy wanted the ball tonight. He was on a mission to not let them get swept.
Texas Tech had its eight-game winning streak stopped on Monday night with a 4-3 loss at New Mexico.
The RPI folks were very good to Big 12 basketball this past season – despite a poor showing by the conference in the NCAA Tournament. It appears that Big 12 baseball is following basketball’s lead with a high conference rating, although not quite as high. The Big 12 is second in the country among college baseball conference, based on the formula that makes up the Ratings Percentage Index. Eight of the nine Big 12 teams are ranked in the top-75, according to RPI, led by Texas at No. 3 and Texas Tech, No. 10. The rest in order: TCU 34, West Virginia 53, Kansas 60, Kansas State 61, Oklahoma State 70 and Baylor 73. Oklahoma is No. 87.
TCU’s sweep of Texas over the weekend was the Horned Frogs’ first over the Longhorns in baseball in 20 years.
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