Big 12 Weekly Roundup (May 5-8, 2022): Race to the Finish Line

Only three inter-conference series played out in the Big 12 this weekend, but those three certainly lived up to the hype that emerges in these final weeks of the regular season. Texas bounced back from the Oklahoma State sweep over 1,300 miles away from Austin, Oklahoma continued to make its mark as a dark horse contender in the conference, and Kansas State and Kansas made this year’s sunflower state showdown one worth watching. All this and more is covered and recapped in this week’s Big 12 recap.



No. 22 Texas beats No. 44 West Virginia with doubleheader sweep

In the cool air of Granville, West Virginia, the baseballs went flying, right over the outfield fence and nearly onto the road, which sits behind it. Playing at West Virginia for the first time since 2018, several of those well-hit home runs were credited to Texas, who entered the weekend with considerable drive coming off Oklahoma State’s sweep of the Longhorns a week ago.


It was evident from the first pitch on Saturday, and led the visitors from Austin to a 2-1 series win, a key result as the Big 12 Tournament seedings begin to come into the picture. Texas now holds an 11-10 mark in the conference play, but interestingly enough, WVU’s 8-6 victory in the series finale kept the Mountaineers in the top half of the league standings, now sitting fifth, at 10-8.


In Saturday’s doubleheader, which Texas swept, the Longhorns displayed why they had already broken the program record for home runs in a season, hitting three in game one, followed by five in the nightcap. Ivan Melendez was stellar at the plate, extending Texas’ lead in game one to 2-0 in the sixth inning with a long homer to left field, and came up with a pair in the 11-0 run-rule victory in game two.


The series opener, a 5-2 win for Texas, saw Pete Hansen bounce-back from a nine-hit, six-run performance last weekend, firing 8.2 innings against the Mountaineers with eight strikeouts. He allowed just two runs, both of which came on Dayne Leonard’s home run in the seventh, and walked just one batter. Lucas Gordan pitched nearly to perfection in game two, with a complete seven-inning effort as he limited the WVU lineup to just two hits, zero walks, and zero runs.


WVU was not to be held back for all three games, however, as a competitive duel played out Sunday, tied 3-3 after two innings. Douglas Hodo III’s two-out single drove in a pair of runs in the fourth, breaking the tie, but the Mountaineers took their first lead and never looked back, pushing three across in the sixth on Leonard’s RBI double.



Hodo led Texas’ lineup, hitting safely in all three games with a 5-for-12 performance on the weekend. Leonard, critical in game three, had six RBIs on four hits and scored six runs in the series.


No. 24 Oklahoma continues its rise, takes down No. 31 TCU on the road

TCU was riding a high after taking down Oklahoma State on the road two weekends ago. But the following Tuesday, a 6-5 loss to Dallas Baptist initiated four losses in the next five games.


Oklahoma, on the other hand, has been on the rise, and showcased it against the Horned Frogs, pulling out the Sooners’ third Big 12 series win.


In game one, it appeared that the Horned Frogs had shed whatever was holding them back in a pair of losses at Florida State a week ago, as TCU took a 9-7 win. Playing at home, TCU responded to a 3-0 first-inning deficit with a seven-run fifth, sending 12 batters to the plate, producing seven hits. OU simply did not have enough hitting to counter, Brett Walker, Augie Mihlbauer, Luke Savage, and Garrett Wright combined for three innings with just one run allowed, as the lead was protected.


But the TCU pitching staff did not match up well against the Soone lineup, as the Horned Frogs lost by four runs in each of the series’ next two games. TCU tallied two more hits than OU in game two, but was unable to capitalize, stranding 10 runners on base to the Sooners’ five. Peyton Graham did a little bit of everything for OU in the contest, as he went 2-for-3, recording the only triple of the game for either team, and stole two bases.


The momentum continued into Sunday’s series finale, as the Sooners’ shocked the Horned Frog faithful with four runs in the first inning, all of which came with two outs. Trevin Michael was exceptional out of the bullpen, picking up the save with three scoreless innings of relief, striking out five with zero hits and just one walk allowed.


OU is now tied with Texas Tech in the Big 12 standings, at 11-7. TCU sits second, at 13-8.



In-state rivalry produces a series win for Kansas State

In a sunflower state showdown, Kansas State and Kansas battled closely, with no more than three runs deciding the result in either of the series’ three games.


KU pulled out a 5-3 victory in the series opener, but playing at home, KSU came away with wins in the next two, which marked the Wildcats’ second Big 12 series win over the last three weekends.


The home run was the name of the game in the series opener, with homers producing the game’s first four runs. KSU went up 3-1, but by the eighth inning, the Jayhawks tied the score at three apiece. Maui Ahuna almost single-handedly led KU to victory, hitting the home run that tied it, the RBI single that gave the Jayhawks a 4-3 lead in the ninth, and scoring on a wild pitch later that inning for the 5-3 result.


But that sort of offensive wizardry ran out for KU as the series progressed, as KSU’s pitching won out. Blake Adams struck out eight over the first 6.1 innings for the Wildcats in a 5-2 win in game two, and despite allowing a total of 11 hits in game three, Connor McCullough and Tyler Ruhl held KU to just three runs. KSU won the series finale 6-3, breaking a 3-3 tie with a pair of home runs in the seventh.


The series win by no means puts KSU in the title discussion, or near the top half of the standings, but for the league’s bottom three teams- Baylor, KSU, and KU- these final weeks of the season become important to even reaching Arlington and the conference tournament, as the team that finishes in last-place is left out of the eight-team tournament. Currently, that is KU, at 4-14, but Baylor is just a game ahead, and KSU is only ahead by two.


Two of those teams will clash next week, when the Wildcats host Baylor in their final home series of the season, while Kansas has the daunting task of hosting TCU.


No. 4 Oklahoma State sweeps strong mid-major SEMO

It was a predictable result, a series sweep for Oklahoma State in its final non-conference series of the season, and while it did not impact the Cowboys’ Big 12 mark of 13-5, it was certainly a statement weekend.


The Cowboys took it to Southeast Missouri State, outscoring the Redhawks 30-9, which was notable considering SEMO is currently in the hunt for an NCAA Tournament bid. Tied with Belmont atop the Ohio Valley Conference standings, SEMO entered the weekend at 30-13, boasting a series win over Dallas Baptist and a 13-3 defeat of Ole Miss on April 19.


But there were to be no notable wins for the Redhawks in Stillwater. OSU opened the series with a 4-0 win on Friday night, as starter Justin Campbell moved to 7-1, striking out 12 with six hits allowed in seven innings.



Saturday’s 11-6 win saw SEMO go up 1-0 in the top of the first before OSU countered with four runs for a 4-1 lead by the second inning. Caeden Trenkle had a double and a triple in the victory for OSU, while Marcus Brown drove home three runs in a 3-for-5 performance.


The margin of victory grew to 12 runs by Sunday, as a 15-3 run-rule win for the Cowboys was highlighted by Trevor Martin’s strong start. The sophomore moved to 3-2, facing 15 batters over four innings, with a total of three baserunners allowed. Griffin Doersching swatted a pair of home runs in a 3-for-4, four RBI day at the plate.


OSU closes out the non-conference schedule at Dallas Baptist Tuesday, before looking to defend its place atop the Big 12 standings over the final two weekends of the season in matchups against Texas Tech and Baylor.

 

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