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Big 12 Weekly Roundup (Mar. 14-17): A Newly Ranked Team



By the time the last out was recorded in the Big 12 on Saturday night, the weekend already had everything: one series was already complete (Houston at BYU); one game had been postponed after 4 innings to be continued Sunday (Texas Tech at Baylor); there was one series that was even (Kansas at Cincinnati); there was a walk-off in the bottom of the 9th on a hit-by-pitch (Oklahoma State at UCF); and two series were at 2-0.


In addition to all of that, of the four new teams in the Big 12 this season, only Houston had won a Big 12 series before this weekend. By the close of business on Saturday night, two of the new teams had won their first Big 12 series, with the fourth team having the possibility on Sunday.


This does not include the rocket that took off into the night sky on Friday in Florida beyond the right field wall providing quite the scene for those attending the Oklahoma State and UCF game in Orlando. The spectacle, in the top of the eighth inning, was a momentary distraction from the UCF 10-2 lead.


And there was still baseball to play on Sunday.


Oklahoma State at UCF

The starting pitching for both teams was solid the first time through the order on Friday evening. Lex Boedicker broke a scoreless tie in the bottom of the fourth inning with a two-run home run off of Cowboys left-hander Sam Garcia. It was the first of five Knights home runs on the night on their way to a 13-2 romp. UCF starter Ben Vespi allowed just two runs over six innings.


Oklahoma State right-hander Brian Holiday was dominant on Saturday night. Holiday racked up 11 strikeouts and left after eight innings leading 3-2. The Cowboys looked poised to even the series. Andrew Sundean tied the game in the bottom of the ninth inning with a solo home run to right-center field, a real show of power going the opposite way. 


Still in the bottom of the ninth, the Knights loaded the bases.


Matt Prevesk was hit by a pitch with two outs and UCF walked off 4-3 winners and claimed their first Big 12 series win with eyes on a Sunday sweep.


“I was just trying to put the ball in play and make something happen,” Prevesk said. “I took a deep breath after the first pitch, and I was fired up to take one for the team.”


Sunday afternoon Oklahoma State staved off a sweep by outscoring UCF 16-10. Aidan Meola hit a three-run home run to cap a seven run second inning. A six-run fourth inning for the Cowboys gave them a 13-4 advantage, which proved to be enough for their only win of the weekend.


Kansas at Cincinnati

Kansas drubbed Cincinnati 14-4 to open the series on Friday. Chase Diggins and Kodey Shojinaga each had four hits and four RBI for the Jayhawks while Reese Dutton had another great outing over six innings to get his fourth win of the season.


Little did anyone know that the Jayhawks would only score one run the rest of the weekend.


On Saturday, Cincinnati right-hander Tommy Boba took a no-hitter into the 9th inning. A lead off bunt by John Nett ended no-hit bid and Boba’s day. After a double put runners in scoring position for the Jayhawks, the Bearcats closed the door stranding runners on 2nd and 3rd for a 1-0 win. Kansas starter Dominic Voegele, who opposed Boba, was the hard luck loser having pitched six quality innings and allowing just the one run on an Alec Jones RBI single.


Cincinnati returned the Friday drubbing with a lopsided win of their own on Sunday, 10-1 to claim the series, their first in the Big 12. Nathan Taylor tossed six scoreless innings while his offense scored a run in every inning except the eighth (the Bearcats did not bat in the ninth). The Cincinnati offense was a model of balance, with just two players with multiple RBI, and they each had two in the game.


Oklahoma at TCU

Oklahoma opened up the weekend in Ft. Worth with a statement win on Friday, 7-3. A serviceable start by Oklahoma’s Braden Davis over four innings, was followed by an outstanding performance by Kyson Witherspoon out of the Sooners bullpen. Witherspoon did not allow a run over the final five innings to preserve the road win.


The victory snapped TCU’s 17 game home win streak and was also the 200th win for head coach Skip Johnson at Oklahoma.


Trailing 2-1 in the top of the fifth inning on Saturday, Oklahoma's Bryce Madron, who was 3-for-4 in the Friday opener, destroyed a baseball that landed somewhere beyond the right field wall for a three-run home run off of TCU starter Kole Klecker. TCU tied the game at five in the bottom of the eighth inning.


Carter Frederick led off the top of the ninth inning with a pinch-hit home run to center field and the Sooners had the lead right back. Oklahoma manufactured another run to put the game away and secure the series with a 7-5 win.


Sunday was all Oklahoma as they rolled to the series sweep on the road. The Sooners built a 6-0 lead in the fifth inning. TCU responded with home runs by Kurtis Byrne and Karson Bowen to get within two runs at 6-4. Oklahoma plated three runs in the top of the ninth inning to essentially put the game away at 9-4.


Oklahoma’s statement win on Friday night turned into a statement series sweep on Sunday afternoon.


Texas Tech at Baylor

Texas Tech got their road trip to Waco started with a 2-0 shutout on Friday night. Red Raiders starter Kyle Robinson and reliever Josh Sanders combined to four-hit the Bears.


Baylor was leading 5-0 in the fourth inning on Saturday when the skies opened up and forced the postponement of the game until Sunday. This meant both teams would have to manage 15 innings of baseball on Sunday afternoon.


The Bears held on to win the game once it continued on Sunday, 5-1.


Then Sunday brought another challenge: a one hour and 26 minute rain delay in the top of the seventh inning with Baylor leading 3-0. An already soggy field, got more water to work with as a light rain continued to fall even after the resumption of play.


The 2024 Baylor team is a young team and that was on full display as freshman pitchers combined to throw 14 1/3 innings with 13 strikeouts in Baylor’s two wins over Texas Tech. The Red Raiders offense only scored five runs all weekend.


Houston at BYU

This series started Thursday and ended Saturday, and with both teams having Cougars as mascots, it is best to stick with calling them by their school name in recaps like this.


Houston walked away with a game one victory in Provo 9-2. Houston basically threw a bullpen game on Thursday and kept their Friday and Saturday starters on schedule. The usual Houston Sunday starter ended up throwing two solid innings in relief in Saturday’s finale.


BYU bounced back from dropping game one to take the series, their first in the Big 12. Despite a six inning 13 strikeout performance by Houston right-hander Jaxon Jelkin, BYU got to the Houston bullpen and wound up with a 4-2 victory on Friday. Bryce Robison pitched six strong innings for BYU in Friday's series-tying win. BYU then won a 10-8 slugfest on Saturday. BYU third baseman Easton Jones hit a home run in each game of the series.


Three Big 12 teams did not play Conference opponents this weekend: Kansas State, Texas, West Virginia.


New Rankings

After the weekend, there is still just one team in the new College Baseball Nation Top 25. The Oklahoma Sooners check in this week at No. 20, and back in the Top 25 for the first time since they were No. 24 in week one.


Weekly Awards

Big 12 Players of the Week

Player: Bryce Madron, Oklahoma, OF

Pitcher: Tommy Boba, Cincinnati, RHP

Newcomer: Mason Green, Baylor, LHP


Quoted

“I knew it was going to take something completely different than it did last night to beat these guys, and we went sac fly, safety squeeze, home run and walk-off hit by pitch with the bases loaded. That, I didn’t have on my Bingo card for how we were going to score our four runs, but I’m sure glad that we did.” - UCF head coach Rich Wallace after Saturday's walk-off win.


Baylor head coach Mitch Thompson was asked about the mindset of his team after resuming the suspended game on Sunday against Texas Tech.

“The [rain delay] part of it stunk, to be honest with you. We were off to a good start, but there was a lot of ballgame left. To run out there today and go with 14-plus innings of freshman pitching, that was exciting. They handled themselves against a really good club in a really good environment, and we got out of there with two wins, so it was a big deal,” Thompson said.


Houston head coach Todd Whitting was doing an in-game interview on ESPN+ on Thursday night during their game at BYU. With runners on the corners, a botched stolen base attempt resulted in an out at second base and with the runner on third base going nowhere. Whitting said, “I didn’t put that play on, by the way,” which brought laughter and affirmation from the broadcast duo.

 

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