As we continue to attack the Big 12 baseball season in full force, here is our second “Big 12 Baseball Weekend Preview” from our Big 12 baseball expert Cameron Brock. Find him on Twitter: @CamBrockVoice.
No.3 Texas Tech (14-0) at No.6 Kentucky (12-2)
If College Gameday covered baseball, they’d be at this series. I’m not just saying that because Kentucky is in the SEC.
These two teams have a straight and narrow path leading to Omaha. If they can just stick to the path, they’ll be there in June. Texas Tech is coming off a four-game sweep of a very talented South Alabama team. Kentucky left a path of destruction at the Shriners Hospitals For Children College Classic in Houston. Together, these two teams outscored opponents 66-21 in seven games. On average, that’s a 9-3 ballgame. Only one opponent (Louisiana-Lafayette) was unranked. That’s impressive. Now, we get to see two teams filled with future MLB prospects go head-to-head in a three-game set. Friday should be a fascinating pitcher’s duel. Both starters have ERAs under 1.00. Tack on two high-octane offenses, and we are in for one of the best series of this entire college baseball season. Get your popcorn ready.
Texas Tech Players to watch: Grant Little (.442 avg., 9 BBs, 3 HR, 6 doubles, triple, 21 runs, 13 RBIs, .532 OBP.); Gabe Holt (.429 avg., .529 obp., 14 runs, 10 RBIs, 4 doubles, 2 triples, homer, 8 stolen bases); Josh Jung (.375 avg., .470 obp., 15 runs, 3 HR, 5 doubles, 2 triples, 14 RBIs)
Kentucky Players to watch: Luke Heyer (.478 avg., 1.109 slg., .564 obp., 8 HR, 5 doubles, 17 runs, 20 RBI, 4 stolen bases); T.J. Collett (.375 avg., 8 HR, 3 doubles, 15 runs, 25 RBIs); Kole Cottam (.346 avg., .493 obp., 15 BB, 4 HR, 2 doubles, 17 runs)
Friday: RHP Davis Martin, Jr. (3-0, 0.60 ERA) vs. RHP Sean Hjellevs, Jr. (3-0, 0.90 ERA)
Saturday: RHP John McMillon, So. (3-0, 1.69 ERA) vs. LHP Zack Thompson, So. (2-0, 5.52 ERA)
Sunday: TBD vs. RHP Justin Lewis, Jr. (3-0, 2.95 ERA)
No.7 Stanford (11-2) at No.23 Texas (9-4)
Game 1 Final: Texas 8 Stanford 6
I said anything but a sweep would be a disappointment for Texas. Welp, the Longhorns dropped the first game of the series against Northwestern. Sure, it was a disappointing loss, but the Longhorns are now on a four-game winning streak and have scored at least eight runs in each of those four games. Perhaps, Texas hitters consulted Jobu. Whatever it is, these guys are on a tear entering game two of a four-game set.
Yes, this weekend series started Thursday. The Longhorns took game one from a top-10 team in the nation. If would do a lot of repairing to the damage that LSU caused against Texas two weeks ago. Nolan Kingham steps on the rubber Friday. Texas could use him being on his game. Going into Saturday’s game up 2-0 in the series would be a major confidence boost.
-Texas scored in each of the first five frames. This included a Kody Clemens solo home run in the third inning.
-Clemens finished 2-for-4 with two runs and two RBIs in addition to his home run.
-All but one Texas player reached base safely.
-David Hamilton and Duke Ellis each had stolen bases.
-Stanford leadoff hitter Tim Tawa was the only Cardinal to record multiple hits. He finished 3-for-5 and scored a run.
-Maverick Handley put Stanford on the board in the fifth with a 2-run shot.
-Texas’ Sunday probable Chase Shugart earned the save. He pitched two innings. He surrendered on earned run on two walks and one hit. He struck out one batter.
-Both bullpens used at least three pitchers. Both starters were replaced after 4 innings of work.
Friday: LHP Kris Bubic, Jr. (2-0, 1.56 ERA) vs. RHP Nolan Kingham, Jr. (2-1, 3.57 ERA)
Saturday: LHP Erik Miller, So. (0-1, 4.22 ERA) vs. RHP Blair Henley, So. (2-0, 0.53 ERA)
Sunday: TBA vs. RHP Chase Shugart, Jr. (0-1, 5.19 ERA)
St. John’s (8-1) at Kansas (8-4)
The Texas Southern series was a little closer than Jayhawk fans would like. Kansas had to come from behind in each of the first two games. Despite the rough starts in the series, Kansas pulled off the sweep of Texas Southern. Then, the Jayhawks went to Tallahassee and dropped two games to a solid Florida State team. This entire week is showing us exactly where Kansas is. If Kansas can hold fort and take the series against St. John’s, then the Jayhawks have a solid foundation from their non-conference slate. Just as long as Kansas isn’t swept by the Red Storm, this is a successful weekend. St. John’s is a good baseball club. They’ve taken a road game from North Carolina. Their only loss came on the west coast after two postponed games. Trust me, flying across three time zones and being greeted by Mother Nature’s wrath will frustrate any team. Some polls have the Red Storm ranked. I go by d1baseball.com’s rankings, and they do not have St. John’s ranked. Either way, this is a great series for Kansas.
St. John’s Players to watch: Valente (.425 avg., 3 HR, triple, 12 runs, 10 RBIs, 3 stolen bases); Stampfl (.424 avg., .512 obp., HR, 3 doubles, 7 runs, 6 RBIs); Galazin (.385 avg., 5 doubles, HR, triple, 10 runs, 6 RBIs)
Kansas Players to watch: Jaxx Groshans (.422 avg., 2 HR, 2 triples, 4 doubles, 14 RBIs, 8 runs); Devin Foyle (.395 avg., 2 HR, 14 RBIs, 11 runs, 7 doubles); Brendt Citta (.375 avg., 9 runs, 9 RBIs, 5 doubles, triple, home run)
Friday: RHP Sean Mooney, So. (3-0, 0.86 ERA) vs. RHP Jackson Goddard, Jr. (3-0, 4.50 ERA)
Saturday: LHP Kevin Magee, Sr. (1-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. LHP Taylor Turski, Sr. (0-2, 6.91 ERA)
Sunday: RHP Michael LoPresti, Jr. (2-0, 3.00 ERA) vs. RHP Ryan Zeferjahn, So. (3-0, 1.59 ERA)
Mercer (11-3) at Kansas State (8-4)
Kansas State is in for a doozy this week. Mercer was picked to win the Southern Conference, and could very well walk out of the Little Apple with a series victory. Statistically, Kansas State should not win this series. All three pitchers have over 5.00 ERAs and Mercer can hit from top to bottom of the lineup. The Big 12 could use a series victory from Kansas State. The Wildcats, of course, need to rack up as many wins as they can. Kansas State is in between a rock and a hard place with this series. The only way to avoid disappointment is to score the series victory.
Mercer Players to watch: Brandon Michie (.460 avg., .603 obp., 3 HR, 7 doubles, 22 RBIs, 16 runs, 15 BB); JT Thomas (.444 avg., .538 obp., 3 HR, 4 doubles, 17 RBIs, 17 runs); Trey Truitt (.378 avg., 3 HR, double, triple, 6 RBIs, 18 runs, 10 BB); Le Bassett (5 HR, triple, double, 14 runs, 16 RBI, .295 avg.); Alex Hanson (.315 avg., 4 HR, 3 doubles, 16 RBIs, 14 runs, 11 BB)
Kansas State Players to watch: Will Brennan (.455 avg. 16 runs, 8 RBIs, 3 doubles, triple, 9 stolen bases); TK McWhertor (.452 avg., home run, 6 runs, 5 RBIs); Drew Mount (.310 avg., 5 home runs), 10 stolen bases, 7 BB, 14 runs, 18 RBIs)
Friday: LHP Christian Vann, Sr. (2-0, 1.56 ERA) vs. RHP Kasey Ford, So. (2-0, 5.09 ERA)
Saturday: LHP Austin Cox, Jr. (3-0, 4.80 ERA) vs. RHP Gabe Littlejim, Jr. (1-1, 7.09 ERA)
Sunday: RHP Chase Burks, Sr. (2-0, 5.02 ERA) vs. RHP Justin Heskett, Sr. (1-1, 5.51 ERA)
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (10-2) at Oklahoma (7-6)
Oklahoma did not just knock Alabama from the unbeaten ranks, they took the series. The Sooners are on a roll right now since their dismal opening weekend. However, all seven of their wins have come at the friendly confines in Norman. That’s an awful recipe for an NCAA Regional resume. Right now, they’ll happily rack up the wins. When conference play hits, they’ll need to make up for those lost road opportunities.
Meanwhile, don’t let the records fool you. Corpus Christi is respectable, but that 10-2 record doesn’t come against the greatest competition. They do own a home victory against Mississippi State and a pair of road victories against UT Arlington. Outside of this, there’s nothing on the resume to make me think Oklahoma wouldn’t easily sweep this team. That’s exactly what the Sooners need to do.
Corpus Christi players to watch: Jackson Owens (.469 avg., .553 obp., 12 runs, 9 RBIs, 3 triples, 2 doubles); Harrison DiNicola (.404 avg., 3 HR, 2 triples, 3 doubles, 13 RBIs, 16 runs); Drake Osborn (.333 avg., 2 HR, 4 doubles, 7 runs, 6 RBIs)
Oklahoma players to watch: Cade Harris (.412 avg., 6 doubles, 2 triples, 8 runs, 7 RBIs, 8 BBs, .535 obp.); Kyle Mendenhall (.226 avg. home run); Steele Walker (.188 avg., 1 HR) *Mendenhall and Walker combined for 13 home runs in 2017.
Friday: RHP Dustin Lacaze, RS So. (1-0, 2.55 ERA) vs. RHP Jake Irvin, Jr. (2-0, 2.00 ERA)
Saturday Game 1: RHP Aaron Hernandez, Jr. (1-1, 3.06 ERA) vs. RHP Kyle Tyler, Jr. (0-2, 6.17 ERA)
Saturday Game 2: RHP Tate Gillispie, Jr. (1-0, 4.26 ERA) vs. RHP Devon Perez, Sr. (0-0, 5.62 ERA)
Sunday: RHP Jackson Owens, Sr. (1-0, 2.93 ERA) vs. TBA
George Washington (7-6) at Baylor (5-5)
George Washington is a classic example of northern team struggles. They opened up 1-5 facing teams in Florida. Since then, they’ve played teams from their geographical region and have seen plenty of success. It will be interesting to see if those bats and arms have truly woken up from Washington, D.C.s wintry hibernation. Meanwhile, Baylor is the team that hasn’t quite figured itself out yet. There are many woes with this pitching staff. Cody Bradford reverted back to old ways against a subpar Cal team, allowing six earned runs one week ago. The Bears stood toe-to-toe with Texas A&M, but Hayden Kettler was left in a bit too long. However, they have a road victory against a solid UCLA team and a Louisiana Tech school that beat Texas A&M on a Friday night.
I do not see Baylor making a regional right now. Unless they compete in conference play, which is unlikely, this Bears team needs to sweep George Washington. Rack up as many wins as you can right now, Baylor.
George Washington Players to watch: Mark Osis (.400 avg., 2 HR, 4 doubles, 12 RBIs, 9 runs, 3 stolen bases); Isaiah Pasteur (3 HR, 2 triples, double, 12 runs, 9 RBIs, 9 BB, 6 stolen bases); Matt Cosentino (.306 avg., 2 HR, double, 12 RBIs, 8 runs
Baylor Players to watch: Andy Thomas (.378 avg., HR, double, 5 RBIs, 4 runs); Davis Wendzel (.361 avg., 2 HR, 5 doubles, 5 RBIs, 9 runs, 8 BB); Richard Cunningham (.346 avg., 2 doubles, 3 runs, 4 RBIs)
Friday: RHP Brady Renner, Sr. (1-1, 4.00 ERA) vs. LHP Cody Bradford, Sr. (1-0, 0.00 ERA)
Saturday: RHP Elliott Raimo, So. (1-1, 1.74 ERA) vs. RHP Hayden Kettler, So. (1-1, 0.75 ERA)
Sunday: RHP Nathan Woods, Jr. (0-2, 3.00 ERA) vs. LHP Tyler Thomas (1-0, 1.64 ERA)
West Virginia (5-5) at Middle Tennessee State (5-4)
West Virginia went to Bowling Green, Kentucky and took care of business against a Conference USA foe on the road. Now the Mountaineers have a .500 record and will take to the road again to face another Conference USA foe. Again, not a stellar opponent. However, every chance to pick up some road victories is a great chance. The RPI might take some hits, but when the resume reads a winning road record, the committee falls in love.
West Virginia Players to Watch: Kevin Brophy (.355 avg., 6 HR, 12 RBIs, 10 runs) Jimmy Galusky (.333 avg., 3 HRs, 6 RBIs, 5 runs); Kyle Gray (4 HR, triple, 6 runs)
MTSU Players to Watch: Aaron Aucker (.347 avg., 3 HR, 4 doubles, 17 RBIs, 8 runs); Austin Dennis (.333 avg., 2 HR, 2 doubles, 15 runs, 11 RBIs, 5 stolen bases); Blake Benefield (4 HR, 4 doubles, 8 RBIs, 8 runs, 6 BB)
Friday: RHP BJ Myers, Sr. (0-0, 4.02 ERA) vs. LHP Jake Wyrick, Sr. (0-0, 4.15 ERA)
Saturday: RHP Alek Manoah, So. (0-2, 6.75 ERA) vs. RHP Carson Lester, Jr. (1-1, 5.27 ERA)
Sunday: RHP Kade Strowd, So. (1-1, 2.57 ERA) vs. LHP Peyton Wigginton, Fr. (1-1, 5.65 ERA)
Eastern Michigan (3-9) at Oklahoma State (7-4)
Well, that was interesting.
Oklahoma State gets absolutely slaughtered during the two games they play errorless baseball. Yet, they commit two errors on a Sunday getaway game and capture the victory. Go figure.
The pokes will now start a seven-game homestand. The toughest game of this homestand will be against Dallas Baptist. It would do Oklahoma State a lot of good to get through the stand without a loss. However, Dallas Baptist is a solid program. It will be alright to drop that game. Oklahoma State desperately needs a sweep this weekend. Eastern Michigan has dropped a series to a SWAC team. They also dropped a game to Division II squad Lynn University. Yes, this team is bad.
Eastern Michigan Players to watch: Max Schuemann (.404 avg., 3 HR, 3 doubles, 14 runs, 8 RBIs, 12 stolen bases); Jeff Timko (.400 avg., 12 RBIs, 5 runs, 4 doubles); Zachary Owings (.367 avg., 8 runs, 9 RBIs, 2 doubles, HR, triple, 6 stolen bases)
Oklahoma State Players to watch: Matt Kroon (.289 avg., HR, 2 doubles, 8 RBIs, 9 runs, 2 stolen bases); Colin Simpson (.333 avg., 3 home runs, 10 RBIs, 5 doubles, 8 runs); Andrew Rosa (.290 avg., 10 runs, 2 doubles, triple, 4 HBP)
Friday: RHP Davis Feldman (0-2, 5.71 ERA) vs. RHP Jonathan Heasley, So. (2-1, 5.51 ERA)
Saturday: RHP Jackson Shaver (0-0, 4.61 ERA) vs. LHP Brady Basso, So. (0-2, 4.26 ERA)
Sunday: RHP Luke DeVenney (1-0, 3.94 ERA) vs. LHP Mitchell Stone, Fr. (0-0, 6.23 ERA)
No.8 TCU (7-3) at Dodger Stadium College Baseball Classic
One thing TCU wasn’t good at last season was completing the sweep. This is a solid baseball club. However, if they continue their struggles to complete the sweep, they are not going to win the Big 12 Championship this season. It’s really a two-horse race, and the other horse is 14-0 right now. This weekend brings a different challenge. They’ll see three different teams in three days. The purple team will start off against an unranked USC team. Saturday places the Horned Frogs up against a No.11 UCLA team that Baylor should have taken a road series from. Durbin Feltman is money in the bullpen and will close out games.
TCU Players to watch: Luken Baker (.364 avg. 3 HR, 7 BBs, 10 runs, 9 RBIs); Josh Watson (.462 avg., 15 runs, 4 doubles, triple, 4 HR, 14 RBIs, 15 runs, 10 BBs); Michael Landestoy (.361 avg., .478 obp., 10 RBIs, 3 runs)
Friday: RHP Jared Janczak RS Jr. (0-1, 2.84 ERA) vs. RHP Chris Clarke, So. (1-2, 5.29 ERA)
Saturday: LHP Nick Lodolo, So. (3-0, 2.60 ERA) vs. RHP Jon Olsen, Jr. (2-0, 2.08 ERA)
Sunday: RHP Sean Wymer, Jr. (0-0, 7.56 ERA) vs. TBD