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Big 12 Baseball Weekend Preview: March 23-25

Phillips 66 Big 12 Baseball Championship, May 28, 2017
Scott D. Weaver Photography LLC

Kansas (13-8, 0-3 in Big 12) at Baylor (11-7, 2-1 in Big 12)

Game 1: 6:35 p.m. CT Friday on Fox College Sports

Game 2: 2:05 p.m. CT Saturday on Fox Sports Southwest +

Game 3: 1:05 p.m. CT Sunday on Fox Sports Southwest

Away Radio: Kansas Jayhawks app

Home Radio: 101.3 FM in Waco (Friday/Sunday); ESPN Central Texas (Saturday); Baylor All-Access ($ub$cription)

These are two teams who started conference play in completely opposite directions. Kansas entered 12-4, went to Austin and was swept by Texas fairly easily. Since then, the Jayhawks split a midweek road series against a solid Grand Canyon team

Baylor, on the other hand, finished pre-conference play 8-6 and seemed to experience some growing pains. It seemed that gaining one victory while hosting Big 12 Conference favorite Texas Tech would have provided Baylor with some momentum. The Bears went above and beyond. Ace Cody Bradford tossed a complete game shutout, and the Bears offense followed it up with a 12-2 drubbing of the Red Raiders to take the series. Baylor is clearly one of the hottest teams in the nation, winning eight of its last 10. Both losses have come at the hands of nationally ranked teams, and they scored a road win against Dallas Baptist on Tuesday.

These two teams are going to battle for an NCAA Regional spot. While it’s early in the season, this series could be the determining factor if only one of them makes it. Kansas is off to an 0-3 road conference start. Baylor needs to continue its momentum, and Kansas is a team it must defeat at home.

Kansas Players to watch: Jaxx Groshans (.383 avg., 3 HR, 2 triples, 7 doubles, 20 RBIs, 11 runs); Devin Foyle (.319 avg., 2 HR, 15 RBIs, 17 runs, 8 doubles); Brendt Citta (.333 avg., 13 runs, 11 RBIs, 8 doubles, triple, home run); Owen Taylor (.328 avg., 10 runs, 3 HR, 14 RBIs 4 doubles, triple)

Baylor Players to watch: Andy Thomas (.426 avg., HR, 3 doubles, 9 RBIs, 8 runs); Davis Wendzel (.290 avg., 2 HR, 7 doubles, 10 RBIs, 12 runs, 12 BB); Richard Cunningham (.314 avg., 3 doubles, triple, 7 runs, 5 RBIs)

Probable Matchups:

Friday: RHP Tyler Davis, Sr. (0-1, 4.50 ERA) vs. LHP Cody Bradford, Sr. (3-1, 1.89 ERA)

Saturday: LHP Taylor Turski, Sr. (1-3, 5.06 ERA) vs. RHP Hayden Kettler, So. (2-2, 2.03 ERA)

Sunday: RHP Ryan Zeferjahn, So. (3-1, 3.25 ERA) vs. LHP Tyler Thomas, Fr. (0-1, 2.76 ERA)

 

West Virginia (9-9) at Oklahoma (14-9)

Friday: 6:30 p.m. CT on Fox College Sports

Saturday: 4 p.m. CT on Fox Sports Oklahoma

Sunday: Noon CT on Fox Sports Oklahoma +

Away Radio: Mountaineer IMG Sports Network on TuneIn Radio App

Home Radio: KREF 99.3 FM/1400 AM in Norman

Kyle Mendenhall, Steele Walker and Brandon Zaragosa have each raised their average over 100 points since the calendar flipped to March. This is the core of the Sooners offense. If those guys are on their game this weekend with Harris and Lindsly also contributing, it may be a rough weekend for West Virginia. The Mountaineers haven’t had much success on the mound this season. Much of this series will be about who can outscore the other team. But as you see, the top two rotation starters for Oklahoma are a combined 5-0. West Virginia must figure out how to break that up.

West Virginia Players to Watch: Andrew Zitel (.306 avg., 3 doubles, 8 RBIs, 9 runs); Kevin Brophy (.250 avg., 6 HR, 12 RBIs, 12 runs, 9 BB) Jimmy Galusky (.266 avg., 5 HRs, 13 RBIs, 13 runs, 4 doubles); Kyle Gray (.279 avg., 5 HR, 2 triples, 12 runs, 10 RBIs, 2 doubles, 8 BB); Braden Zabinsky (.405 avg., .519 obp., 9 BB, 6 stolen bases, double, triple, also pitches)

Oklahoma players to watch: Cade Harris (.306 avg., 10 doubles, 2 triples, 24 runs, 12 RBIs, 26 BBs, 5 stolen bases); Brady Lindsly (.362 avg., .12 runs, 14 RBIs, 5 doubles, triple); Steele Walker (.316 avg., 2 HR, 5 doubles, 13 runs, 15 RBIs); Kyle Mendenhall (.345 avg., 23 RBIs, 14 runs, 3 HR, 2 doubles, triple)

Probable Mathcups:

Friday: RHP BJ Myers, Sr. (0-0, 5.55 ERA) vs. RHP Jake Irvin, Jr. (3-0, 2.83 ERA)

Saturday: RHP Alek Manoah, So. (1-2, 3.58 ERA) vs. RHP Devon Perez, Sr. (2-0, 2.22 ERA)

Sunday: RHP Kade Strowd, So. (2-2, 3.68 ERA) vs. RHP Nathan Wiles, So. (1-1, 5.49 ERA)

Kansas State (12-9) at No.20 TCU (11-7)

Game 1: 6:30 p.m. CT on GoFrogs.com ($ub$cription)

Game 2: 2 p.m. CT on Fox Sports Southwest +

Game 3: 1 p.m. CT on Fox Sports Southwest +

Away Radio: KMAN 93.3 FM/1350 AM in Manhattan, Kans.

Home Radio: KTCU 88.7 FM Saturday and Sunday; GoFrogs.com ($ub$cription) Friday

It’s the Big 12 opener for both of these teams and neither enters with momentum. Kansas State has dropped five of its last eight, virtually something the Wildcats could not afford to do. Meanwhile, TCU dropped a home series to Minnesota. With all due respect to the Golden Gophers, TCU is supposed to contend for the Big 12 Championship. It’s not quite time for Horned Frogs fans to hit the panic button, but try not to go bald scratching your head from the Minnesota series. On paper, TCU should easily win this series. However, what’s transpired this season has been anything except what’s on paper. Kansas State loves offense. If they bring the bats to Fort Worth, they can very well walk out with a series victory. If you don’t believe me, look at the Wildcats players to watch below. TCU’s pitching is talented enough to keep this Kansas State offense in check, but it has not performed as well as we know it can. Will Kansas State take advantage of a vulnerable TCU team? Or will the conference-play alarm wake up a sleeping giant in TCU?

Kansas State Players to watch: Will Brennan (.430 avg. 27 runs, 14 RBIs, 9 doubles, triple, 12 stolen bases); TK McWhertor (.357 avg., home run, 6 runs, 10 RBIs); Drew Mount (.292 avg., 7 home runs, 30 RBIs, 22 runs, 18 BB, 15 stolen bases)

TCU Players to watch: Luken Baker (.293 avg. 4 HR, 2 doubles, 14 BBs, 12 runs, 13 RBIs); Josh Watson (.343 avg., 18 runs, 4 doubles, triple, 4 HR, 16 RBIs, 13 BBs); Zach Humphreys (.300 avg., 2 triples, double, 7 runs, 12 RBIs)

Probable Matchups:

Friday: RHP Kasey Ford, So. (3-1, 5.57 ERA) vs. RHP Jared Janczak RS Jr. (1-1, 2.32 ERA)

Saturday: RHP Gabe Littlejim, Jr. (1-3, 6.84 ERA) vs. LHP Nick Lodolo, So. (3-1, 4.15 ERA)

Sunday: RHP Justin Heskett, Sr. (2-1, 5.19 ERA) vs. RHP Sean Wymer, Jr. (0-1, 5.60 ERA)

 

Oklahoma State (10-8-1) at Texas (13-9, 3-0 in Big 12)

Friday: 7 p.m. CT on Longhorn Network/Watch ESPN app

Saturday: 2:30 p.m. CT on Longhorn Network/Watch ESPN app

Sunday: 1:30 p.m. CT on Longhorn Network/Watch ESPN app

Away Radio: KSPI 93.7 FM in Stillwater

Home Radio: 104.9 The Horn/1260 AM in Austin

Texas is hot right now, especially at home. After playing six games against top 10 opponents, the Longhorns are on a four-game winning streak. In those four games, they’ve outscored opponents 26-10. Not to mention, this comes after the passing of legendary coach Augie Garrido. The angel in the dugout has provided a new spark to this team.

Meanwhile, Oklahoma State has committed 23 errors in its first 18 games. If the Cowboys want any chance of leaving Austin with one victory, they better play their best defense of this entire season. Otherwise, Texas could easily be looking at a 6-0 record to start Big 12 play. Would Texas be “back” then? Not in my estimation, but they’ve definitely got the schedule to make people think that.

Oklahoma State Players to watch: Matt Kroon (.265 avg., 3 HR, 4 doubles, 15 RBIs, 17 runs); Colin Simpson (.347 avg., 5 home runs, 19 RBIs, 8 doubles, 15 runs); Andrew Rosa (.326 avg., 17 runs, 3 doubles, 2 triples, HR)

Texas Players to watch: Kody Clemens (.370 avg., .505 obp., 6 HR, 2 doubles, 2 triples, 21 runs, 22 RBIs, 21 BB, 3 stolen bases); Masen Hibbeler (.333 avg., 12 RBIs, 20 runs, 5 doubles, triple, HR, 10 BB, 7 stolen bases); Zach Zubia (.297 avg., 4 HR, 4 doubles, triple, 23 RBIs, 9 runs, 12 BB)

Probable Starters:

Friday: RHP Jonathan Heasley, So. (2-2, 6.49 ERA) vs. RHP Blair Henley, So. (3-1, 1.80 ERA)

Saturday: LHP Carson Teel, Jr. (3-0, 1.05 ERA vs. RHP Nolan Kingham, Jr. (3-2, 4.28 ERA)

Sunday: RHP CJ Vanela, So. (1-0, 2.75 ERA) vs. TBA

Northeastern (11-5) at No.10 Texas Tech (17-5)

Game 1: 6:30 p.m. CT on Texas Tech TV ($ub$cription)

Game 2: Noon CT on Texas Tech TV ($ub$cription)

Game 3: 4 p.m. CT on Texas Tech TV ($ub$cription)

Game 4: 12:30 p.m. CT on Texas Tech TV ($ub$cription)

Radio: 100.7 FM/97.3 FM in Lubbock; Texas Tech Sports Network on TuneIn Radio App

If you think Texas Tech is just going to walk into Rip Griffin Park and have their way with Northeastern, think again. The Huskies are scrappy and they have earned their 11-5 record. This team has gone 3-4 against SEC teams, including a road victory at a then-ranked Auburn team. They’ve only played one home game, a 3-1 victory over Hartford.

Not to mention, they’ve got a heckuva coach. Mike Glavine is the brother of first-ballot Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Glavine. He’s got a tremendous baseball I.Q. and knows how to develop players. Additionally, Glavine is a Northeastern alum. He’s committed to taking this program to the top.

Although Northeastern is looking to raise a few eyebrows, Tech might have recharged its batteries. March has been grueling for the Red Raiders with nine games against ranked teams. Five of those came on the road against Kentucky and Louisville. Tech opened Big 12 play last week and struggled mightily against Baylor, dropping two of three.

Will Tech get back on track? Or will Northeastern come hit the Red Raiders with their first home loss of the season?

Northeastern Players to watch: Charlie McConnell (.406 avg., 2 triples, 6 doubles, 13 runs, 8 RBIs, 12 stolen bases); Max Burt (.368 avg. 2 doubles, 12 RBIs, 10 runs); Jake Farrell (.368 avg., 3 HR, triple, 7 doubles, 13 runs, 16 RBIs)

Texas Tech Players to watch: Grant Little (.398 avg., 3 HR, 10 doubles, 2 triples, 22 runs, 20 RBIs,); Gabe Holt (.379 avg., 22 runs, 14 RBIs, 5 doubles, 2 triples, 2 HR, 10 stolen bases); Josh Jung (.379 avg., 23 runs, 3 HR, 7 doubles, 2 triples, 22 RBIs); Cameron Warren (.353 avg., 2 HR, 4 doubles, 13 runs, 17 RBIs)

Probable Matchups:

Friday: RHP Tyler Brown, (1-1, 6.75 ERA) vs. RHP Davis Martin, Jr. (3-1, 2.16 ERA)

Saturday Game 1: RHP Brian Christian, (1-3, 7.17 ERA) vs. RHP Caleb Kilian, So. (1-1, 0.83 ERA)

Saturday: TBD vs. RHP John McMillon, So. (3-0, 3.16 ERA)

Sunday: LHP Sean Mallen, (5-0, 1.09 ERA) vs. RHP Ryan Shetter, Jr. (3-0, 2.25 ERA)

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