The Oklahoma State Cowboys did just what they needed to do, and without any outside help, to win their first Big 12 regular-season crown in baseball and earn the No. 1 seed in the conference postseason championship tournament this coming week.
The Cowboys won the two games they needed to over in-state rival Oklahoma in order to take sole possession of the 2014 Big 12 title. In reality, however, their victory Thursday night over the Sooners Thursday in the opening game of their three-game Bedlam series with Oklahoma was all that was necessary to get the job done, thanks to a 6-3 Baylor win over second-place TCU the same night.
Baylor only managed one more run in the remaining two games of its series with TCU, as the Horned Frogs closed out their 2014 regular season with back-to-back 5-0 and 7-1 wins to lock down their claim on conference runner up.
Kansas had the weekend off insofar as Big 12 competition. The Jayhawks fooled all the experts by finishing third in the league standings, and spent Saturday and Sunday up north in Ann Arbor, Mich., where they split two nonconference games with Michigan.
The West Virginia Mountaineers proved to be the most intriguing team this college baseball season. The Mountaineers finished out the regular season being swept at Texas Tech, which extended the West Virginia losing streak to seven games. The Mountaineers started off April losing six consecutive Big 12 games to the top two teams in the conference (TCU and Oklahoma State), closed out April and the beginning of May with a run of seven wins in 10 conference games before closing out the regular season as the victim of two successive series sweeps: at home against Kansas and at Texas Tech.
Texas began Big 12 play this season going 8-1 in its first three conference series and taking an early perch at the top of the league standings. Since that point, however, the Longhorns have struggled to a 5-10 mark against Big 12 opponents and found themselves in somewhat of a free fall in the standings before finally settling in in the five spot just back of Texas Tech.
The Longhorns temporarily stopped the late-season bleeding with a 2-1 series win over defending conference champion Kansas State, but it didn’t come easily. The Wildcats, who hands down won the award as the biggest surprise of the 2014 Big 12 season, going from first to worst in a year’s time, were hammered 12-0 in game one vs. the Longhorns, but rebounded to win the second game in the series, 5-4, and battled the Horns into extra innings before falling 9-8 in the regular-season finale on Sunday.
Kansas State’s season is mercifully over after finishing ninth in the Big 12 standings with a 25-30 record overall and 5-19 in the Big 12. K-State started off the 2014 season with a single win its first eight games. Unbeknownst at the time, that horrific start served as a forewarning of what the season was to become for last year’s conference champions.
Some notable developments from the final weekend of the regular season and on the eve of next week’s Big 12 Championship tournament:
- Oklahoma’s 8-1 win in its series finale with Oklahoma State snapped the Cowboys’ 12-game winning streak, but the loss did nothing to alter OSU’s first Big 12 regular-season championship.
- The 2-1 series win over Oklahoma was Oklahoma State’s seventh consecutive series win against Big 12 opponents. The Sooners and Cowboys will play for a sixth time this season when they meet in the opening round of the Big 12 Baseball Championship on Wednesday.
- Oklahoma senior right-handed starter Kindle Ladd has both OU wins over in-state rival Oklahoma State this season.
- TCU had a record of 16-1 in the month of April and finished the regular season with 23 wins in its final 26 games.
- The TCU pitching staff had a Big12-best 2.27 ERA in all games this year. Three TCU starting pitchers posted records of 8-3 for the season.
- Texas Tech swept its series this weekend against visiting West Virginia, giving the Red Raiders 14 consecutive wins at home and 40 wins to end the regular season. That is the most wins for Texas Tech in the regular season since 2004.
- Kansas State left a season-high 15 runners on base in its 9-8 season-ending loss on Sunday to visiting Texas. The Wildcats loaded the bases in four different innings, but K-State batters went 4 for 22 in the game with runners in scoring position.
- West Virginia had the top two hitters in the Big 12 this season. Bobby Boyd had the conference’s best batting average at .360, and teammate Billy Fleming was right behind him with an average of .352 in 50 games this season.
- Kansas‘ third-place finish in the Big 12 is the highest the 22nd-ranked Jayhawks have finished in the Big 12 era. The Big 12 baseball coaches had projected the Jayhawks to finish last in the conference in their 2014 preseason poll.