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Big 12 Conference Play Opens, Mayhem Begins

Half of the Big 12 Conference opened its limited conference schedule this weekend, and the premier series featured Oklahoma State (15-3) as the Cowboys made their way to Lubbock this weekend to face Texas Tech (16-3).

Texas Tech was sporting their St. Patrick’s Day green caps and socks on Friday night, an unusual if distinguished look as the green clashed with the black and red of the pants and jerseys.

The Cowboys were the team that came out guns blazing to start the game though, scoring two runs in the opening inning and forcing Texas Tech to the bullpen in the fourth inning as they tagged starter Brendan Girton for six runs over 3 2/3 innings.

Oklahoma State built a 7-1 lead and seemed in control of things in Lubbock. But Texas Tech rallied for a big eighth inning to tie the game at seven. The Red Raiders played small ball in the frame, taking advantage of walks, a batter hit-by-pitch, and hits no greater than a single to plate four runs.

The game moved into extra innings after neither team accomplished anything in the ninth.

With two outs in the bottom of the tenth inning, Gavin Kash hit an opposite field drive deep into the left field corner that seemed like it was going to be caught, but left-fielder Nolan Schubart simply over-ran the ball as it fell into fair territory behind him to allow Kevin Bazzell to score the winning run easily from second base.

Texas Tech head coach Tim Tadlock was happy for the Friday night win after the game, but he was quick to downplay the game's final play. “He [Kash] hit it high, don’t get me wrong, but usually those get caught.” This one was not caught and Texas Tech escaped with an 8-7 victory. Nolan McLean suffered the tough-luck loss to fall to 0-1 on the season, though he entered the weekend in a two-way tie nationally in saves.

Oklahoma State got a measure of revenge on Saturday when they once again grabbed the lead, but this time they did not surrender it. Baseballs were flying out of Rip Griffin Park in Lubbock as the two teams combined for seven home runs in the contest, two of them by Cowboys designated-hitter Tyler Wulfert.

Three of the four Texas Tech runs came via solo home runs.

Red Raiders lefty Mason Molina (2-1) suffered the loss, going 5 1/3 innings and allowing just three runs. His counterpart, Ben Abram (3-0), was extremely effective in his spot start, allowing just one run over six innings to remain perfect on the year.

A five-run eighth inning for the Cowboys was the difference as they distanced themselves from the Red Raiders, the big blow coming off the bat of Roc Riggio who hit a three-run home run to center field.

A ninth inning rally by Texas Tech added a run to their tally, but they still came up short in the middle game with a 9-4 loss, which also snapped their six-game winning streak against Oklahoma State.

Sunday's deciding game got a jolt when Oklahoma State announced that Juaron Watts-Brown, who was supposed to start for the Cowboys on Saturday but had been scratched, would make the mound start.

Taber Fast took the mound for the Red Raiders and paced the team over 3 2/3 innings allowing just one run. Fast was followed by Brandon Beckel (3-0) who tossed a scoreless 2 1/3 innings.

The Red Raiders offense, already leading 2-1, exploded for ten runs in the bottom of the fifth inning. Austin Green hit a grand slam for a 6-1 lead. Right-fielder Damian Bravo followed a few batters later with a two-run blast of his own to chase Watts-Brown (2-1) as he was right at 100 pitches. Green added a two-out RBI double later in the frame, his fifth RBI of the inning, the final run of the inning for Texas Tech as they took a 12-2 lead.

The game ended via the run-rule after the seventh inning.

Around the rest of the Big 12 this weekend, Oklahoma hosted TCU and took the series 2-1 despite losing a lopsided opening game 13-5; Kansas State trekked down to Waco and dropped their series to Baylor 2-1, losing two games by the same score, 8-4.

Texas Tech, Oklahoma, and Baylor stand at 2-1 after the first weekend of conference play, while Kansas State, Oklahoma State, and TCU are all at 1-2.

Kansas, Texas, and West Virginia did not play conference games this weekend.


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