Big 12 Baseball: Ranking the Top 3 Series in Week 4 of Conference Play
Big 12 Conference play is now well underway, and things are starting to take shape. Four league teams remain in the D1Baseball Top 25, led by Oklahoma State at No. 16. 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. 8, which happens to be the fourth weekend of conference play. Here are three series that you absolutely cannot miss if you are a Big 12 baseball fan.
3. Kansas (13-14, 3-3 Big 12) @ No. 24 West Virginia (22-7, 2-1 Big 12)
Date: Friday, April 7 | Time: 5:30 p.m. CT | Location: Morgantown, W.Va. | TV: ESPN+
The Jayhawks have suddenly rattled off five in a row. That’s with a pair of wins against Creighton and Missouri State sandwiched around a three-game sweep over Baylor in Lawrence last weekend. The Mountaineers, however, are obviously a more formidable foe than what they saw a few days ago in conference play. They welcome their opposition to town after claiming an initial league series win at Kansas State, and they’ve only dropped one series so far this season.
Slugger JJ Wetherholt is a large reason that’s the case. He’s crushed seven home runs and is hitting .463 with 33 RBI and 93 total bases. Caleb McNeely actually leads the team with eight bombs, and Braden Barry has left the yard six times, as has Grant Hussey. So, that’s plenty for Kansas ace Collin Baumgartner to deal with. He carries a 3-0 record with a 3.69 ERA and 35 strikeouts to seven walks into the matchup.
2. Kansas State (19-12, 5-4 Big 12) @ No. 21 Texas (21-9, 4-2 Big 12)
Date: Friday, April 7 | Time: 6:30 p.m. CT | Location: Austin, TX | TV: LHN
The Wildcats will be looking to bounce back from a Big 12 series for the second time in three weekends after losing two of three to West Virginia. Their only series win so far, in fact, is a three-game sweep over Oklahoma. The Longhorns, on the other hand, have to their collection a sweep over Texas Tech and a best-of-three loss at Oklahoma State a week ago. So, they’re trying to bounce back as well.
Lucas Gordon has been stellar on the hill this season, fanning 45 batters while issuing only 16 free passes and notching a 2.04 ERA and 1.06 WHIP. Charlie Hurley has been outstanding in his own right, with a 2.25 ERA and 30 strikeouts to 11 walks. A hit or miss set of bats for Kansas State will have that challenge in front of them. The bats for Texas, which have also been hit or miss, are starting to come into form, with Eric Kennedy, Peyton Powell and Porter Brown leading the charge. Wildcats ace Owen Boerema (4-0, 2.61 ERA, 39K, 13BB) will try to keep them at bay.
1. No. 16 Oklahoma State (22-8, 6-3 Big 12) @ TCU (18-11, 5-4 Big 12)
Date: Thursday, April 6 | Time: 6 p.m. CT | Location: Fort Worth, TX | TV: ESPN+
This pits the top pair of teams in the preseason poll and only two squads who received first-place votes entering the 2023 campaign. Both have spent time in the Top 25, but TCU, the preseason favorite, has been out of it for multiple weeks following a series loss at Oklahoma. Oklahoma State, meanwhile, has held steady and appears to be rightfully pegged near the top of the standings. It’s won two series, one a sweep, and lost another in league play.
As for the actual matchup between these two Big 12 contenders, it’s about explosion offensively for the Cowboys. Their lineup is good enough to power a run to Omaha, featuring the likes of Nolan McLean, David Mendham, Roc Riggio and Nolan Schubart, all of whom have belted eight homers. That’s a tall task for any pitching staff, but Horned Frogs duo Cam Brown and Kole Klecker could be up to it, boasting a combined 7-3 record with 63 strikeouts, both below a 3.50 ERA. They’ll need some help from their offense, though, which means Brayden Taylor, Austin Davis and Cole Fontenelle, a trio with 24 combined jacks, will be relied on.