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Big 12 Weekly Roundup (April 28 - May 1, 2022): Statement made in Austin

The Big 12 remains full of surprises, and there were plenty of those this past weekend, as well as a number of notable results, that shifted the league standings and the national rankings. Oklahoma State is back atop the conference after dominating in Austin, Texas Tech took care of business at Baylor, and TCU saw the excitement from consecutive series wins over Texas Tech and OSU quickly fade in northern Florida. All that and more coming up in this week’s Big 12 recap:

No. 4 Oklahoma State sweeps No. 29 Texas on the road

On the heels of last weekend’s series loss to TCU, Oklahoma State left nothing to doubt. The Cowboys regained their position atop the Big 12 standings, playing with unmatched intensity in Austin, as they swept a talented, yet underperforming Texas ballclub on the road.

It was just what OSU needed to leap TCU for the conference lead, moving to 13-5 in Big 12 play, with their lone series loss coming at the hands of the Horned Frogs. And for the Longhorns, the recent series loss at Kansas State was bad enough. Being swept in conference action for the first time since 2019, and at home of places, was to be avoided at all costs.

But the Longhorn pitching staff was no match for OSU’s bats. Not in game three. Not at any point during the weekend. The Cowboys outscored Texas 30-17, including a decisive 10-8 result on Sunday afternoon.

For the first six innings of game three, it looked as if Texas would avoid the dreaded sweep. After all, a sold-out crowd of 7,139 filled the stands at Disch-Falk Field, and Lucas Gordon fanned a career-high 11 batters in a remarkable start. But once the Longhorns went to their bullpen, the lead instantaneously unraveled and OSU broke through, with a 10-run seventh. Zane Morehouse recorded just one out, and neither Coy Cobb nor Jared Southard tallied even one out, before Luke Harrison finally got the hosts out of the seemingly endless inning.

Just four hits produced what ended up as a 10-7 lead for OSU, but that was because of four walks and two hit-by-pitches that added fuel to the fire as the Cowboys put on an offensive showcase. Griffin Doersching’s grand slam put OSU in front, 8-7, and for the first time, it seemed all the momentum was pushed into the direction of the Cowboys.

It was virtually the same storyline in the series opener, a 8-6 OSU win, as Texas tied the score at six in the eighth before Zach Ehrhard’s two-run home run won it for OSU in the ninth. A 14-3 victory for the Cowboys followed as they scored in every inning from the fourth to the eighth.

David Mendham hit safely in all three contests for OSU, tallying four RBIs, while Bryce Osmond turned in one of the best starts of the week in the Big 12, firing 5.1 scoreless innings in game two, with just one hit and three walks allowed. He also struck out six, and has now recorded five strikeouts in three of his last four starts.

No. 35 Oklahoma rolls on

Two weeks ago, the Sooners dropped arguably their most critical series of the season at the hands of Oklahoma State. Since that point, they have lost just three times, defeating Texas Tech in a midweek duel, sweeping Kansas on the road, and on this weekend, notching a series win over Kansas State.

Oklahoma opened the series swinging, and against a pitching staff with an ERA of 6.06, the Sooners hit above .415 in consecutive games, winning 14-2 on Friday, and 22-10 on Saturday. Tanner Tredaway’s 15-game hitting streak was snapped in game two, but in the series opener, he was one of three Sooners with three hits, swatting a double, a triple, and a two-run homer, as he drove in five runs. Peyton Graham connected on two home runs in the victory, and on Saturday, was 2-for-5 with a pair of RBIs.

The superior hitting made up for a challenging weekend for the pitching staff, which posted a 6.67 ERA, KSU took the series finale in another high-scoring duel on Sunday, winning 8-7, as a ninth-inning double play turned by the Wildcat infield snapped a four-game losing skid.

The series win comes at a critical point for OU, currently No. 29 in CBN’s CBR ranking. The Sooners’ spot in the NCAA Tournament is by no means locked, and they face a daunting week in the Lone Star State, battling mid-major power Dallas Baptist on Tuesday, before facing TCU in a three-game series in Fort Worth over the weekend.

No. 23 Texas Tech dominates in first two games of series at Baylor

Texas Tech has lost its last five midweek games. But perhaps the upside to that is the losses have kept the Red Raiders hungry entering their Big 12 series each weekend, and as a result, Tech remains in the top half of the conference pecking order, third in the league with a 11-7 mark.

That comes after back-to-back series wins, last weekend at home against West Virginia, and this past weekend in Waco, Texas, where they took the first two games of the series from Baylor.

Truth be told, the Red Raiders have had difficulty in closing out their weekend schedules, perhaps due to the week-to-week uncertainty when it comes to the game three starter, having dropped their last three series finales. But Tech has found success because the hard work is done on the front end, with top-level starters Andrew Morris and Brandon Birdsell continuing to gain momentum as the season has progressed. The duo allowed just one run each in the first two games of the series at Baylor, as Tech won 7-1, and 11-1, respectively.

Morris’ first season in Lubbock has more than lived up to expectations, as the right-hander moved to 6-0 on the year, giving up just four hits in a seven-inning outing on Friday night. Birdsell picked up where Morris left off, with another solid seven-inning performance in game two, He allowed nine baserunners, but gave up only a single run as the bullpen closed it out over the final two innings and Tech led from start to finish, completing its fifth conference series win of the year.

Trendan Parrish’s shaky start (1.1 IP, 7 ER) on Sunday was the only bit of inconsistency for the Red Raiders on the mound, but the offense just was not enough to make up for it. Baylor won 11-7, and credit to the Bears, who after scoring just once in the first two contests, took a 7-0 lead by the second inning.

Tech’s Kurt Wilson, a 47-game starter this year, paced the Red Raider hitting corps with consecutive three-hit games to open the weekend, recording five RBIs in the process.

No. 38 West Virginia responds to series-opening loss with series win at Kansas

West Virginia has cooled off some since its conference-opening upset of TCU and ensuing sweep of Baylor, but the Mountaineers have been much better than their projected eighth-place finish in the Big 12 preseason poll, currently fifth in the standings with a 9-6 mark.

Part of that was playing national powers Texas Tech and Oklahoma State on consecutive weekends, but WVU was not all that sharp in the series opener against last-place Kansas, either, falling 7-3 on Friday.

But a switch flipped for the Mountaineers in Lawrence, as they came back with two 10-run games on Saturday and Sunday, and claimed the series with a pair of victories, remaining in the Big 12 title hunt with three weekends left on the schedule.

Hitting controlled the script in the majority of those victories, though WVU relievers Chris Sleeper and Chase Smith deserve credit, having held KU scoreless for the final four innings of Saturday’s 10-7 victory, after the Jayhawks took a 7-6 advantage in the fifth. A three-run sixth for WVU put the Mountaineers in front, and they continued that momentum into Sunday’s 10-8 win.

In that one, a similar pattern played out, as KU went up 4-2, hitting well early on, before WVU’s three-run fifth gave the Mountaineers the lead. The Jayhawks rallied in the ninth, as Caleb Upshaw swatted a three-run homer, but were unable to complete the comeback. Trey Braithwaite was brought on to record the final out, and needed just two pitches to do so, as he earned his sixth save of the year.

The balance of WVU’s lineup has been one of the team’s biggest strengths throughout the year, and proved key again. Eight of the nine starters tallied at least one hit in Sunday’s finale.

No. 19 Florida State stuns No. 22 TCU

Just two of the series’ games could be played, but even still, a statement was made. In a higher-profile non-conference series late in the year, TCU traveled to Tallahassee for a set of weekend duels with Florida State. Though it featured two top 30 opponents, it was very much one-sided before rain canceled the series finale on Sunday.

FSU opened the series with a 10-0 victory on Friday, as Parker Messick turned in an astounding seven-inning shutout that saw him allow just two hits, zero walks, and strike out 14. Ross Quinn was just as dominant, striking out five of the six batters he faced over the last two frames.

Then, on Saturday, TCU began hitting, but struggled to score with runners aboard, standing eight baserunners over the first six innings. FSU won 7-3, with the Horned Frogs’ high point coming on Porter Brown’s two-run homer in the fourth. The pitching was not there for TCU, who posted an 8.50 ERA and gave up 19 hits in the abbreviated weekend.


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