Kansas State had victory in its grasp in the final game of its three-game series at TCU this Big 12 baseball weekend, but a despondent bunch of Wildcats watched it explode in their face, and in the worst kind of way.
The defending conference champions held a commanding 7-4 lead heading into the home half of the fifth inning Sunday and were on the verge of snapping hugely disappointing seven-game losing streak in the conference. But that’s when the floodgates literally and figuratively opened up in on the visiting Cats.
TCU scored 17 runs in its last two at bats – seven times in the bottom of the fifth and 10 more times in the sixth – to put a crushing end to any visions Kansas State had of savoring a long-awaited conference win. TCU went on to win going away, 21-7, as the game was stopped after seven innings because of the 10-run rule.
The three-game series sweep moved the Horned Frogs into a share of the conference lead with Oklahoma State. Both teams are 13-5 with six league games to play over the next two weekends. Kansas State remains mired in the Big 12 cellar, two games back of Oklahoma in the battle for the final spot in the Big 12 postseason championship.
TCU has now won a dozen straight games and, even more impressive, has lost only once in its last 20 games, dating back to the beginning of April. The Wildcats, on the other hand, have been swept in two consecutive Big 12 series and have lost 10 of their last 12 games. Against Big 12 teams, K-State has lost eight of its last nine.
Texas’ troubles continued over the weekend. The Longhorns, once ranked as high as No. 4 in the country in one national poll, dropped two of three at resurgent West Virginia, which was good enough for the Mountaineers to pass Texas in the league standings. Texas began April sweeping two consecutive Big 12 series. Since then, however, the Longhorns have won just seven of their past nine games against conference teams and have fallen from first place down to a tie for fifth with Texas Tech.
Kansas swept its second consecutive Big 12 series this past weekend, taking all three games from Texas Tech, winners of 10 of their past 13 games and five of six in Big 12 play coming into its series with Kansas. The Jayhawks swept their series at Baylor the weekend before.
In other games, Baylor won two of three at Oklahoma, handing the Sooners their 15th loss at home this season and eighth against Big 12 opponents. Both are conference high-water marks this season. Oklahoma State had three relatively close games against nonconference foe Arizona State over the weekend, but managed to escape with a victory in each to up its overall mark to a league-best 35 wind, one victory more than TCU.
Here are some other highlights from the weekend Big 12 action that you might have missed:
- TCU has won 12 consecutive games. The last time the Horned Frogs won as many as a dozen games in a row was in 1993 when they had a 14-game win streak.
- Kansas State’s trip to TCU was its final road trip against Big 12 opponents. The Wildcats were 1-11 this season in Big 12 play away from the Little Apple.
- Baylor’s series win over Oklahoma was the Bears first in Norman since 2000 and their first series win on the road in the Big 12 in two years.
- Baylor closer Josh Michalec recorded his league-leading 18th save over the weekend. The senior right-handed relief pitcher posted 11 saves in his first 11 save opportunities this season and is 18 for 19 on the year.
- Texas had 12 hits in its Sunday series-deciding loss to West Virginia, but the Mountaineers has 14 hits, the most given up by Longhorns pitchers all season.
- West Virginia’s 12-6 win over Texas on Sunday was the final game to be played at Hawley Field, which has been West Virginia’s home for baseball for 43 years. The Mountaineers will play in a new stadium in 2015.
- Kansas weekend starter Frank Duncan lowered his season ERA to 2.02 with a complete-game, five-hit 4-1 victory over Baylor on Sunday. The win gave Duncan a 6-2 record for the season and was his fourth complete game in 2014.
- Kansas was picked to finish last in the Big 12 baseball preseason coaches poll; Kansas State was picked as the favorite to defend its league championship. With its second consecutive Big 12 series sweep, the Jayhawks have moved into third place in the conference standings behind front-runners Oklahoma State and TCU.
- Texas Tech never led in any of its three games at Kansas. The three losses to the Jayhawks was the first time this season the Red Raiders have lost three consecutive games.
- Baylor left-fielder Grayson Porter had six RBI in Baylor’s 10-5 win over Oklahoma on Sunday.
- To underscore how poor the Oklahoma pitching has been this season (second to the worst in the conference through all games and worst in Big 12-only play), the Sooners are 9-21 this season when they score five or fewer runs.
- Oklahoma State scored in six of the eight innings it came to the plate in the Cowboys 14-12 win Sunday and a sweep of Arizona State. The Cowboys pounded out a season-high 18 hits in the win.