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Big 12 Baseball Weekend Preview: March 16-18

Kansas (12-4) at Texas (9-9)

This has been an awful week for the Texas baseball program. The Longhorns are currently on a five-game losing skid. That’s not the worst news though. Legendary coach Augie Garrido passed away this week just a couple of years after leaving his post as the team’s skipper. We suspect that there may be some angels in the outfield at UFCU Disch-Falk Field this weekend to help the Longhorns get out of their funk. Despite dropping five-straight games, it’s worth mentioning those two teams are ranked in the d1baseball.com’s top five. This will likely do more good in the long run than bad on the short term.

Meanwhile, Kansas is coming off one of its best weekends in a while. The Jayhawks swept a ranked St. John’s team and is now eight games over .500. Speaking of Garrido, one of the players he recruited is Kansas catcher Jaxx Groshans, currently sports the best average on the Kansas roster. Groshans originally signed with the Longhorns, but decided on Kansas after Garrido was replaced by David Pierce. Groshans is no stranger to playing in dedication of someone close to him. Just before his senior season in high school, his teammate and friend was killed after being run over by a vehicle. Magnolia High School dedicated that season to the fallen player, and won the district championship.

This will be an emotional, wild series. It is also a series featuring two squads who are coming off rebuilding years and looking to grow into championship contending teams. The winner this week not only takes a major step towards an NCAA Regional berth, but could crash the party only Texas Tech and TCU seem to be invited to called the Big 12 Championship race.

Texas Players to watch: Kody Clemens (.367 avg., .506 obp., 4 HR, 2 doubles, triple, 16 RBIs, 14 runs); Masen Hibbeler (.333 avg., 10 RBIs, 17 runs, 3 doubles, triple); Zach Zubia (.300 avg., 4 HR, 4 doubles, triple, 21 RBIs, 18 runs)

Kansas Players to watch: Jaxx Groshans (.413 avg., 3 HR, 2 triples, 5 doubles, 20 RBIs, 11 runs); Devin Foyle (.351 avg., 2 HR, 15 RBIs, 14 runs, 8 doubles); Brendt Citta (.377 avg., 11 runs, 10 RBIs, 7 doubles, triple, home run)

Probable Matchups:

Friday: RHP Tyler Davis, Sr. (0-0, 1.69 ERA) vs. RHP Nolan Kingham, Jr. (2-2, 4.56 ERA)

Saturday: LHP Taylor Turski, Sr. (1-2, 5.49 ERA) vs. RHP Blair Henley, So. (2-1, 2.35 ERA)

Sunday: RHP Ryan Zeferjahn, So. (3-0, 1.96 ERA) vs. TBA

 

No.6 Texas Tech (16-3) at Baylor (8-6)

Statistically, this is a mismatch. Texas Tech’s regular lineup has five players hitting over .300, and three of those are .397 or better. The Red Raiders are in the top 25 categories for batting average and runs scored, plus No.6 nationally for home runs. Not to mention, Tech has played a ranked opponent in nine of their last 10 games. In those games, the Red Raiders are 6-3. Tech is looking to start off their Big 12 Championship title defense with a sweep as they know TCU will be right on their heels every step of the way.

Meanwhile, Baylor is in rebuilding mode. 65 percent of the team’s production comes from underclassmen. Their strong point right now is starting pitching, and at times the bullpen has negated all the work placed in by the starters. One interesting feature about Baylor Ballpark is that it’s an actual baseball field. Most Big 12 stadiums use artificial turf. Baylor will look to use that to their advantage. Of course, the Bears would love to open conference play with a series victory. However, just avoiding the sweep right now would do wonders. Remember, Kansas went to TCU last year and stole the Sunday game. That win helped a super young Jayhawks squad build momentum and finished the year with a winning record.

Texas Tech Players to watch: Grant Little (.397 avg., 3 HR, 8 doubles, 2 triples, 22 runs, 17 RBIs,); Gabe Holt (.408 avg., .519 obp., 19 runs, 13 RBIs, 4 doubles, 2 triples, 2 HR, 10 stolen bases); Josh Jung (.373 avg., 22 runs, 3 HR, 7 doubles, 2 triples, 20 RBIs); Cameron Warren (.404 avg., 2 HR, 4 doubles, 13 runs, 17 RBIs

Baylor Players to watch: Andy Thomas (.375 avg., HR, 2 doubles, 6 RBIs, 6 runs); Davis Wendzel (.286 avg., 2 HR, 5 doubles, 6 RBIs, 10 runs, 10 BB); Richard Cunningham (.333 avg., 2 doubles, triple, 4 runs, 4 RBIs)

Probable Matchups:

Friday: RHP Davis Martin, Jr. (3-0, 2.00 ERA) vs. LHP Cody Bradford, Sr. (2-1, 2.55 ERA)

Saturday: RHP John McMillon, So. (3-0, 3.43 ERA) vs. RHP Hayden Kettler, So. (2-2, 2.13 ERA)

Sunday: TBD vs. LHP Tyler Thomas (0-0, 0.68 ERA)

College of Charleston (13-5) at Kansas State (10-6)

The Wildcats take on a solid program in College of Charleston this week. The Cougars have had some slip-ups now and then, but they’ve also swept SEC team Georgia in a three-game set. Believe me when I say, this will be anything but a breeze for Kansas State. This team is managed by former South Carolina skipper Chad Holbrook. Charleston is just four years removed from making an appearance in the Super Regionals.

The Wildcats need to keep racking up as many wins as they can. This is currently a team that does not seem like it will make an NCAA Regional. However, the offense is starting to come alive. If they keep building, there could be a few eyebrows raised. A series victory over Charleston would certainly help.

Charleston Players to watch: Dupree Hart (.369 avg., 10 BB, 9 RBIs, 11 runs, 8 doubles, home run); Luke Morgan (.333 avg., 3 HR, 4 doubles, triple, 12 runs, 13 RBIs, 4 stolen bases); Danny Wondrack (.262 avg., 4 HR, 4 doubles, triple, 5 RBIs, 11 runs, 11 BB)

Kansas State Players to watch: Will Brennan (.472 avg. 22 runs, 13 RBIs, 8 doubles, triple, 10 stolen bases); TK McWhertor (.381 avg., home run, 6 runs, 6 RBIs); Drew Mount (.328 avg., 7 home runs), 12 stolen bases, 11 BB, 18 runs, 29 RBIs); Jake Biller (.323 avg., 3 HR, 6 doubles, triple, 15 RBIs, 11 runs

Probable Matchups:

Friday: LHP Evan Sisk, Jr. (3-1, 3.27 ERA) vs. RHP Kasey Ford, So. (3-0, 4.74 ERA)

Saturday: RHP Griffin McLarty, So. (3-0, 0.76 ERA) vs. RHP Gabe Littlejim, Jr. (1-2, 7.23 ERA)

Sunday: RHP Jacob Frishmuth, So. (3-0, 1.96 ERA) vs. RHP Justin Heskett, Sr. (1-1, 5.49 ERA)

 

Minnesota (12-7) at No.11 TCU (9-5)

The Horned Frogs are on something they aren’t used to: a losing streak. It was a rough weekend in California. TCU destroyed USC as expected, but fell to Vanderbilt. A tilt with a good UCLA squad was cancelled. On top of this, Rice defeated the Horned Frogs in a midweek game. They’ll try to get back to their winning ways this weekend when they host Minnesota. While Minnesota is a northern team, they can’t be taken lightly. The Golden Gophers are that sneaky northern team that will beat the teams that look ahead. Expect TCU to finish pre-conference play with a four-game winning streak. However, TCU must come to play or else find themselves scratching their heads after dropping a series to a less talented team.

TCU Players to watch: Luken Baker (.349 avg. 4 HR, 2 doubles, 11 BBs, 16 runs, 14 RBIs); Josh Watson (.385 avg., 16 runs, 4 doubles, triple, 4 HR, 14 RBIs, 11 BBs); Zach Humphreys (.356 avg., 2 triples, double, 6 runs, 10 RBIs)

Minnesota Players to watch: Terrin Vavra (.92 avg., HR, 2 triples, 4 doubles, 19 runs, 19 RBIs) (Ben Mezzenga (.377 avg., triple, 2 doubles, 11 runs, 8 RBIs); Toby Hanson (.350 avg., 8 doubles, 17 RBIs, 11 runs)

Probable Matchups:

Friday: RHP Jared Janczak RS Jr. (1-1, 2.08 ERA) vs. RHP Reggie Meyer (1-2, 3.57 ERA)

Saturday: LHP Nick Lodolo, So. (3-1, 4.74 ERA) vs. LHP Nick Lackney (1-0, 3.86 ERA)

Sunday: RHP Sean Wymer, Jr. (0-0, 6.75 ERA) vs. RHP Patrick Frederickson (1-0, 2.84 ERA)

Kennesaw State (8-10) at Oklahoma (12-7)

The Sooners should have plenty of confidence right now. Oklahoma has won eight of their last 10, including series victories over a then-undefeated Alabama team and a rising Texas A&M Corpus Christi squad. Steele Walker and Kyle Mendenhall seem to have busted out of their slumps, and the Sooners are back on the winning side of things. One final warm-up before conference play puts the Sooners up against a dismal Atlantic Sun team in Kennesaw State. This Owls team has seen less-than-stellar results. Anything but a sweep here would be a disappointment for Oklahoma. If the Sooners don’t have at least 20 wins before they travel to Fort Worth April 6-8, then Oklahoma fans will have every right to hit the panic button. Until then, Skip Johnson is steering this program down the right path.

Kennesaw State players to watch: LaDonis Bryant (.354 avg., 8 runs, 5 RBIs, 2 doubles, 2 triples); Jake Franklin (.310 avg., 2 HR, 4 doubles, triple, 13 runs, 11 RBIs); Jaylen Smith (.259 avg., 3 HR, 13 RBIs, 5 runs, 2 doubles)

Oklahoma players to watch: Cade Harris (.343 avg., 10 doubles, 2 triples, 10 runs, 13 RBIs, 9 BBs, .505 obp.); Brady Lindsly (.409 avg., .500 obp., 10 runs, 13 RBIs, 4 doubles, triple); Steele Walker (.316 avg., 2 HR, 5 doubles, 13 runs, 15 RBIs); Kyle Mendenhall (.311 avg., 21 RBIs, 12 runs, 3 HR, double, triple)

Probable Mathcups:

Friday: RHP AJ Moore, (1-0, 1.83 ERA) vs. RHP Jake Irvin, Jr. (2-0, 3.63 ERA)

Saturday: RHP Brooks Buckler, Jr. (1-0, 2.74 ERA) vs. RHP Devon Perez, Sr. (1-0, 3.12 ERA)

Sunday: RHP-Jake Rothwell (0-1, 8.15) vs. TBA

 

Canisius (10-4) at West Virginia (7-8)

West Virginia took the road series against Middle Tennessee State, but they were swept in two midweek games against one of the best hitting teams in the nation with Tennessee Tech. Canisius had seen success so far this season, and I don’t expect West Virginia to sweep them. However, the Mountaineers really need to win this series. Right now, I don’t think West Virginia will get into an NCAA Regional. That would be a major disappointment for the expectations of this team entering the season.

West Virginia Players to Watch: Andrew Zitel (.317 avg., 3 doubles, 6 RBIs, 7 runs); Kevin Brophy (.268 avg., 6 HR, 12 RBIs, 11 runs) Jimmy Galusky (.268 avg., 5 HRs, 13 RBIs, 11 runs, 4 doubles); Kyle Gray (.308 avg., 5 HR, triple, 10 runs, 9 RBIs, 2 doubles, 2 triples)

MTSU Players to Watch: Liam Wilson (.333 avg., 2 HR, 8 doubles, triple, 15 runs, 11 RBIs); Mark McKenna (.326 avg., 3 doubles, 9 runs)

Probable Matchups

Friday: LHP Jared Kennedy, Jr. (1-0, 1.47 ERA) vs. RHP BJ Myers, Sr. (0-0, 4.64 ERA)

Saturday: RHP Charlie Sobieraski, Sr. (2-0, 4.26 ERA) vs. RHP Alek Manoah, So. (0-2, 5.40 ERA)

Sunday: LHP J.P. Stevenson, Sr. (2-0, 1.54 ERA) vs. RHP Kade Strowd, So. (2-1, 3.20 ERA)

Oklahoma State (8-7) vs. Seton Hall (6-8), Missouri State (10-5)

What happens when you commit eight errors in a three-game series? You lose the series. It’s time for Cowboys fans to realize this team is not going to be good defensively this season. I can’t even remember the last time errors were not a part of my conversation about Oklahoma State. This is not a regional team, and it will stay this way until they clean up. Errors in conference play will be the death of this team.

This week brings Seton Hall to town for two games. It’s another northern team with a losing record. If Oklahoma State plays defense, they will take care of Seton Hall. Missouri State will be playing a doubleheader Saturday. Oklahoma State will see them in their second game. The bullpen might be a little thin for the Bears, which would give the Cowboys an advantage.

Oklahoma State Players to watch: Matt Kroon (.283 avg., 2 HR, 3 doubles, 11 RBIs, 12 runs); Colin Simpson (.333 avg., 4 home runs, 16 RBIs, 7 doubles, 12 runs); Andrew Rosa (.318 avg., 17 runs, 3 doubles, 2 triples)

Probable Starters:

Friday: RHP Jonathan Heasley, So. (2-1, 5.48 ERA)

Saturday: RHP Joe Lienhard, Jr. (1-1, 6.28 ERA)

Sunday: RHP CJ Vanela, So. (1-0, 2.45 ERA)

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