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Big 12 Weekly Roundup (Mar. 21-24): Another Newly Ranked Team

Big 12 Baseball

After weekend three of Big 12 Baseball action, we have more questions than answers as more teams are bundled together in the middle of the Conference standings. Kansas State at 5-1 is percentage points of Oklahoma at 7-2. There are five teams who have played nine Conference games at this point that are 4-5. Baylor at 3-6 and TCU at 2-7 round at the bottom of the standings right now. Five teams in the Big 12 have only played six conference games to this point.

A Look Back at Week 3 in Big 12 Baseball

BYU at Texas Tech

BYU took the opener in Lubbock on Thursday night, keyed by a Kuhio Aloy grand slam in the third inning. BYU right-hander Ben Hansen (3-2) earned the win with a quality start over six strong innings where he allowed just two runs on five hits.

Texas Tech came back to even the series on Friday night with a walk-off in the bottom of the 9th to win 4-3. BYU scored two runs in the top of the ninth inning to tie the game and set up the final frame theatrics where Texas Tech freshman Landon Stripling singled home the winning run.

The Red Raiders then claimed the series with a 10-1 victory on Saturday afternoon. Texas Tech pitching allowed BYU just two hits in the series finale. Jacob Rogers and Parker Hutyra combined to pitch five perfect innings to close out the game and the series victory while the offense was provided by Kevin Bazzell who went 2-for-4, hit his first home run of the season, and had 4 RBI.

TCU at Oklahoma State

Friday night the Horned Frogs got the Payton Tolle they had hoped for when they got him out of the transfer portal. TCU won 1-0 as Tolle racked up 15 strikeouts in a complete game shutout of Oklahoma State. Tolle only allowed two base runners over the final three innings of the game.

The Cowboys jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning on Saturday, thanks mostly to a Kollin Ritchie three-run home run. Brian Holiday pitched a complete game for Oklahoma State striking out 14 Horned Frog batters on 113 total pitches. The 6-2 Cowboys victory evened the series headed into Sunday.

TCU opened Sunday’s rubber game scoring one run in the first inning and one run in the second inning for an early two-run advantage. Right-hander Tommy Molsky took the mound for the Cowboys over the next four innings and pitched scoreless, hitless baseball at the Horned Frogs. Molsky struck out seven TCU batters of the 12 outs he recorded and picked up the win for his effort. The win clinched the first Big 12 series win this season for the Cowboys.

UCF at Kansas

Kansas behind Reese Dutton (5-1) took the opener 13-3. Dutton earned the win having allowed just two runs over seven innings and left the game having retired the final 11 batters he faced. Jayhawks shortstop Collier Cranford (4-for-5) was a one-man offensive machine on Friday night, hitting for the cycle and driving in seven runs. And Cranford did not just hit for the cycle, he hit a natural cycle; single, double, triple, and home run, in order.

Cranford was asked after the game about hitting for the cycle. “Yeah, I was walking up to my at-bat and I think some kid yelled and asked me if I was going to hit for the cycle and I ignored him," Cranford said. "At that point, I was thinking about it. I really don’t have any words."

Prior to the beginning of the weekend series, weather forced a change to the schedule and a doubleheader was played on Saturday. UCF took game one 6-2 to even the series.

The Knights then took game two of the doubleheader 4-1 to take the road series.

Kansas State at Houston

Kansas State opened their series in Houston with a 5-3 win. After falling behind Houston 3-0, a four-run sixth inning for the Wildcats was the difference in the ballgame. All-American Tyson Neighbors made his first appearance since he was sidelined by an injury in February, and he threw 18 pitches in a scoreless inning of relief work. The win was the 800th in the career of head coach Pete Hughes.

The Wildcats clawed back late to top the Cougars and take the series in Houston 6-5. Owen Woodward was solid in relief for Houston, with three scoreless innings to give the Cougars a chance. A balanced offensive effort by Kansas State while taking advantage of two Houston errors was the difference in the one-run victory to take the road series.

Brady Day was 5-for-6 on Sunday as Kansas State completed the road sweep with a 9-3 victory. The Wildcats pounded out 15 base hits in the win, their ninth straight. Neighbors (1-0), after returning from injury Friday night, worked two scoreless innings for the win on Sunday and threw 24 pitches while striking out two Houston batters.

Neighbors spoke with College Baseball Nation about his comeback weekend after the game on Sunday.

Talking about pitching for the first time in over a month when he made his Friday night appearance, Neighbors recalled his freshman season when he had difficulty at times finding the strike zone. Neighbors said that at the time, "I'd go 3-0 and come back and punch them out." Friday, facing his first opposing batter in over a month, Neighbors threw three balls to go 3-0. From the dugout he heard Coach Hughes yell out, “You got him right where you want him, kid.”

It was true. Neighbors got the strikeout, he said, "I punched him out after going 3-0, it just felt like old times, kind of like freshman year."

Neighbors spoke about his role right now and his mentality, "Just going out there trying to compete and win ballgames. If it's coming out in the sixth in tight situations or coming out of the pen in the ninth when we need it, whatever. I'm just being a team guy and doing my best to help the team win."

Asked if he was at full strength after his injury, Neighbors nodded in the affirmative and said, “I’m good.”

Baylor at Texas

Baylor stole the series opener in Austin 4-3 in 11 innings. Mason Marriott out-dueled Lebarron Johnson Jr. Marriott allowed just one earned run over six innings while Johnson Jr.. allowed three earned runs over seven innings, but neither pitcher was around when the game was settled. Baylor got a lights-out performance from Ethan Calder who pitched the final four innings of the game and was nearly perfect, yielding just one walk. A Daniel Altman RBI double in the top of the 11th inning proved to be the winning run as Calder slammed the door on Texas with the Bears third straight Big 12 victory.

Texas re-set the series to even with a 10-2 drubbing of the Bears on Saturday afternoon. Longhorns' left-hander Ace Whitehead tossed a complete game making his first ever weekend start. Whitehead struck out five batters and allowed just two Baylor runs. Jared Thomas led the Longhorns offense going 4-for-5 with two home runs and four RBI.

Texas then run-ruled Baylor on Sunday 11-1 in eight innings to claim the series on their home turf. Texas right-fielder Max Belyeu had himself a day. Belyeu went 3-for-4, those three hits were all home runs and he drove in six runs to lead the offense. Meanwhile, Max Grubbs pitched seven innings for the Longhorns allowing just one run on five hits.

West Virginia at Oklahoma

Braden Davis and Reid Hensley combined for a no-hitter and the Oklahoma offense had no problem getting to Mountaineers pitchers as the Sooners won 13-0. Davis struck out 12 batters over seven innings and Hensley struck out three batters over the final two innings to complete the no-no.

The Mountaineers responded in Saturday's first game to win 9-5 dealing Oklahoma their first loss of the season in Conference play. The Sooners, trailing 9-2 going into the bottom of the ninth inning, started to make things interesting, plating three runs and perhaps taking advantage of a tiring Derek Clark. The left-hander pitched a complete game for the Mountaineers to help his team even the series. Clark struck out seven and threw 127 pitches. The final out was recorded at third base on a bases loaded two RBI single into right field as the runner on first base attempted to stretch one base into two but a great throw from right field beat the runner in plenty of time to end the game.

West Virginia then took the second game of the day 8-3 to rebound and claim the road series. The Mountaineers jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the top of the first inning and never looked back. Kyson Withersoon was outstanding out of the Oklahoma bullpen as he cruised through 7 2/3 innings and allowed just one run while striking out 11 West Virginia Batters. Likewise, David Hagaman was equally great out of the Mountaineers bullpen as he pitched the final 6 2/3 innings and allowed just one run to go with 10 strikeouts. Five West Virginia home runs and a balanced offensive attack made the difference in the Mountaineers series-clinching victory.

Cincinnati was the only Big 12 team not to play a conference series this weekend.

New Rankings

After the weekend, there is still just one team in the new College Baseball Nation Top 25, but it is a new team now. The Oklahoma Sooners, previously ranked No. 20, dropped their series at home this weekend to fall out of the Top 25. Kansas State has now moved in to claim the No. 23 spot. The Wildcats are in the Top 25 for the first time this season.

Weekly Awards

Big 12 Players of the Week

Player: Max Belyeu, UT, OF

Pitcher: Payton Tolle, TCU, LHP

Newcomer: Payton Tolle, TCU, LHP


"I’m extremely grateful for this milestone win, but I’m only interested in 801.” - Kansas State head coach Pete Hughes after his 800th career win on Friday night.

"It was awesome. The guys were way into that and I think everyone that was watching the game kind of saw it building where it was single, double, triple. He comes up there and gets to two strikes and we thought if he could pound one to right here and then sure enough he did. Happy for Collier. He’s a heck of a player and a heck of a teammate. It’s fun when those guys have those awesome accomplishments.” - Kansas head coach Dan Fitzgerald on his team responding to Cranford's hitting for the cycle on Friday night.

“I thought it was a fantastic game from our club. I think that was exactly what we needed to do. I thought every guy on the team was competing to their utmost potential. It was a fun win. Mason Marriott was outstanding to start the game, Patrick Hail had some big outs and then Ethan Calder, how big was that. That was huge. Danny Altman had the big hit, but we had guys up and down the lineup getting things done so it was a lot of fun.” - Baylor head coach Mitch Thompson on his team's complete effort to win at Texas on Friday night.


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