Big 12 Baseball

Big 12 Baseball: Ranking the Top 3 Series in Week 3 of Conference Play

Longhorns baseball coach David Pierce

A few weekends of baseball are already in the books for the 2023 season, and Big 12 play is well underway. Four league teams are in the D1Baseball Top 25, led by Oklahoma State at No. 17. Texas, Texas Tech and West Virginia check in at Nos. 21, 22 and 24, respectively.

With that said, there are some intriguing matchups for weekend No. 7, which happens to be the third weekend of conference play. Here are three series that you absolutely cannot miss if you are a Big 12 baseball fan.

 

3. No. 24 West Virginia (19-6, 0-0 Big 12) @ Kansas State (18-9, 4-2 Big 12)

Date: Friday, March 31 | Time: 6 p.m. CT | Location: Manhattan, KS | TV: ESPN+

The Mountaineers will finally get a chance to play a conference series. That’s after they’ve spent their time in the non-conference while every other league team has played at least one or even two Big 12 series to this point. The Wildcats have been quite successful in their first two such series, including a sweep of Oklahoma at home a week ago. They’ll look to continue that momentum against a ranked foe this time around.

West Virginia comes to the Little Apple boasting arguably the best hitter in the entire league in JJ Wetherholt. He’s batting at a ridiculous .462 clip with six home runs, 12 doubles and 30 RBI. The dude is simply on fire. Braden Barry (.307), Caleb McNeely (.303) and Dayne Leonard (.295) complement him nicely. There’s been some concern about the depth of Kansas State’s pitching staff behind ace Owen Boerema (4-0, 2.61 ERA), and it’ll truly be put to the test against the boys from Morgantown.

 

2. TCU (16-9, 4-2 Big 12) @ No. 22 Texas Tech (18-8, 2-4 Big 12)

Date: Friday, March 31 | Time: 6:30 p.m. CT | Location: Lubbock, TX | TV: ESPN+

TCU responded off a Big 12 opening series loss to Oklahoma with an emphatic three-game sweep of Kansas. It outscored Kansas 40-11–you read that right–in the manhandling. Texas Tech, on the other hand, is licking its wounds from a three-game sweep at the hands of Lone Star State rival Texas, followed by a loss at New Mexico in the midweek.

One reason the Red Raiders can respond the way they need to this weekend is because they can really rattle the bats. Gavin Kash, Austin Green and Kevin Bazzell–the three main cogs–have combined for 18 home runs and 103 RBI thus far and are all hitting above the .350 mark. Nolen Hester is also hitting .349, with a team-high 26 walks for a .535 on-base percentage. He, pun intended, is a walking base runner. The Horned Frogs, though, have the quality kind of rotation that can slow him, and them, down. Kole Klecker and Cam Brown have been outstanding so far. Klecker, 2-0, carries a 2.08 ERA with 34 strikeouts to 13 walks in 30.1 innings. Brown is 4-2 with a 2.30 ERA and greater than 5:1 strikeout to walk ratio (25:4). Brayden Taylor brings the pop, with already eight homers.

 

1. No. 21 Texas (19-7, 3-0 Big 12) @ No. 17 Oklahoma State (20-6, 4-2 Big 12)

Date: Friday, March 31 | Time: 6 p.m. CT | Location: Stillwater, OK | TV: ESPN+

All factors included, this is definitely the series of the weekend. Texas is riding a nation-long 15-game winning streak after a poor 4-7 start. Oklahoma State, despite losing Tuesday at Dallas Baptist, has already eclipsed the 20-win plateau. Both teams have aspirations of winning the Big 12, and this series will go a long way towards deciding that.

Lucas Gordon has emerged as a true ace for the Longhorns’ pitching staff, compiling a 1.65 ERA with 41 strikeouts to 15 walks in 32.2 innings. He’s 2-0 while limiting opponents to a .170 batting average. And if he’s the true ace, well, Charlie Hurley isn’t too far behind him. He’s an equal 2-0 with a 1.86 ERA and 27 K’s to 10 walks in 29 innings pitched. They’ll face a Cowboys offense that’s absolutely loaded. Nolan McLean, David Mendham, Roc Riggio and Nolan Schubart have combined for a loud 31 homers, with eight each for Mendham, Riggio and Schubart and seven for McLean. It’s must-see dominance on the hill vs. can’t miss power at the plate.

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