Here’s the good, the bad and the ugly from the past weekend of Big 12 baseball.
Texas schools starting with the letter “T”
These three schools combined for an 8-1 record. All three started the year in the Top 10. After a disastrous opening weekend in Arlington, these three teams are a combined 51-11. Texas Tech is 19-1 since its 0-3 start. The one loss came at the hands of another top 20 team in Oklahoma State to open Big 12 play. The Red Raiders are back on a five-game winning streak after the pokes snapped their previous 14-game winning streak. TCU made Baylor look like a high school team, scoring 21 runs in the final two games of the series. Texas is off to a 4-2 start to Big 12 play. These three teams expect to be in Omaha. Excluding the cancelled 2020 season, the last time a College World Series did not showcase at least one of these teams was in 2013. Texas Tech has advanced to Omaha each of the past two seasons and made it to the semifinals in the most recent tournament. TCU appeared in four consecutive College World Series from 2014-17. Of course, Texas has appeared in the College World Series nine times since the turn of the new millennium. The Longhorns have won it all twice and appeared in the finals two more times. Their last finals appearance came in 2009.
After back-to-back weekends taking on top five teams, the Cowboys let off some steam. The Gap Band played over the loud speakers four times, including twice to the tune of Christian Encarnacion-Strand’s bat. Poor Kansas State had no answer for the Cowboys this weekend as the pokes erupted for 14 runs Friday and 26 total on the weekend. The guns were blazing and the Cowboys layethed the smackdown all over Kansas State during the three-game sweep. It was the first time O’Brate Stadium hosted a Big 12 Conference series. The student section was packed and the fans were not disappointed one bit. It was a party in the outfield bleachers.
Lanny Frattare, Big 12 Now broadcaster
The worst series this weekend was Kansas vs. West Virginia. Three blowouts filled with horrible baseball. Yet, I wanted to stay tuned because Lanny Frattare kept me entertained. While the pitchers in this series were either walking batters, hitting batters, or giving up home runs, Frattare was telling stories. He also worked both games of the Saturday doubleheader while his color analysts only did one.
Some of the things I learned: Going down the slide at Milwaukee’s American Family Field (formerly Miller Park) will get you prosecuted for trespassing. Bob Ueker requires extra security in the press box because of his popularity. What a book-rule double is and why people are wrong to consider it a ground-rule double. Stories about Brooklyn Dodgers broadcaster Red Barber, and that he wrote a book. He also managed to get a younger color analyst to backtrack on calling Yadier Molina “the greatest defensive catcher of all-time”. The youngster was so taken aback, he forgot misnamed Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez and said Ivan Gonzalez. Interestingly enough, Ivan Gonzalez was an integral part in Randy Mazey’s success building up the West Virginia program. In case you were wondering, Gonzalez is still in the Chicago White Sox organization after spending the 2019 season in Rookie League.
The Sooners bats were frozen in extra innings of a Friday game at Texas. If Oklahoma scratches that victory out, they open up conference play with a massive series win on the road. Instead, they drop to 13-10 and their schedule is softer than the top teams in this league. I’m not big on the Sooners this year. I think they’ll make a regional. April should be a breeze for this team. After the TCU series, the Sooners have Kansas and Kansas State before hosting a non-conference weekend series against Georgia Southern. There is no reason Oklahoma shouldn’t win double-digit games next month. I’m not sold they will be competitive in May though. They will need to work out some kinks.
Yes, they won the series. Yes, they run-ruled Kansas in game three. Yes, if the rules permitted, they would have run-ruled Kansas Friday night. Game one on a Saturday was a stinker for this ball club though. Overall, the series was horrible for baseball fans. The only people who enjoyed watching this series were West Virginia fans. Why? If you take out game two, West Virginia looked dominant. In reality, the pitchers for Kansas in those two games were downright awful.
Horrible. That’s the first word that comes to mind when I hear the word “Kansas” right now. It goes for both schools. They combined for a 1-5 weekend record. Kansas fans should send some fan mail to Cole Larsen praising him for the lone victory. He dominated the Mountaineers with an eight inning performance, tossing 123 total pitches. Outside of Larsen’s performance, the entire weekend was a disaster for the Jayhawks. By the way, West Virginia is currently without their head coach Randy Mazey. So, the Jayhawks just lost to a team who entered the series with a .500 record and an interim coach. Oh, and they got run-ruled in their final game.
I kind of feel sorry for Kansas State. I can’t think of a much worse situation to enter into. Oklahoma State had a lot of motivation this weekend. Two weeks ago, they played the No.1 team in the nation. One week ago, they faced another top-five team. The Cowboys were competitive, but had every reason to be frustrated against better competition. Oklahoma State is no slouch, being a top 20 team. Add in the fact that it was the first ever Big 12 Conference series at O’Brate Stadium, which COVID-19 delayed a full year. There is a reason Kansas State gave up 14 runs on Friday. It’s not completely their fault. The train was coming and it was going to wreck whatever team was in its way. Still, the Wildcats got swept. The series was one-sided. Better luck next time.
This team is officially behind the eight ball. They dropped two out of three at home to Texas and just got swept by their arch-rivals in TCU. Two of the games were over before they got started. TCU was up 10-0 by the end of the third inning in both Saturday and Sunday games. The Bears are now on a 4-game overall losing streak and have dropped six of their last seven. Luckily for Baylor, their weekend series is a four-game set against North Carolina A&T. After that, it’s a home series vs. West Virginia and a road series against Kansas. Baylor could place itself right back into the mix entering the Texas Tech series. If they have momentum and confidence, who knows what could happen in Lubbock?
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