The good news for Texas baseball is it’s still in good shape to win the Big 12 Conference title following the winless weekend against Kansas State. The bad news is there is very little room for error now that the Horns have fallen from the top spot in the league standings.
Texas would be tied with Texas A&M for first place had pinch-runner Jordan Etier not been thrown out at the plate in the bottom of the ninth Sunday against the Wildcats. It ended the frame, and the contest remained deadlocked after 10 innings because of the league’s curfew rule for the third game of a weekend series. The result is that Texas trails not only the Aggies but also the Oklahoma team that it swept the previous weekend. In short, that was one helluva tie.
The Sooners benefited the most from Sunday’s stalement. Oklahoma (11-7) claims the conference title by winning eight of its nine remaining Big 12 games. The Sooners must still face Kansas, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M, but every contest will be played within the state of Oklahoma. The Horns could very well clinch the Big 12 title by taking two-of-three in their remaining sets against Baylor and Texas A&M. Texas has won 12 of the past 13 against the Bears and Aggies, respectively. The regular season winner of the log-jammed league, however, will probably not be determined until A&M travels to Oklahoma (May 15-17).
“I think it will go to the last day, last pitch maybe,” Texas head coach Augie Garrido said Monday.
It will be a tougher road to hoe for the Aggies, who hit the road for five of their six remaining league games. The last two contests between Texas and Texas A&M are slated for Austin, Saturday and Sunday, May 9-10, with the series opener in College Station on Friday, May 8.
Texas swatted 36 hits against Kansas State in the three-game set (including two games that went into extra innings). The problem for the Horns was that it had every kind of hit except ‘clutch’, stranding base runners like they were overbooked airline passengers, scoring just 12 runs in the series. The improved Wildcats entered the series with a Big 12 batting average second only to Oklahoma, and the Cats’ touched Texas’ staff for 12 hits Friday. The Horns, though, may have found another solid reliever on Tuesday vs. Texas State in RHP Stayton Thomas. The sophomore picked up his second win of the season following a career-best five innings against the Bobcats. The 12-2 decision raised Texas’ mark to 30-11-1 but, more importantly, reversed a dispiriting trend where the Horns had not tasted sweet victory in four consecutive home games.
Over the next two weekends, Texas is gunning for its fourth conference title in six years and 75th, overall. The Horns remain a favorite to host an NCAA Regional, beginning May 29, and are still in the mix for a potential top 8 national seed.
The Texas-Baylor series is set for an 8 p.m. start, Friday, in Austin. The game is set for an ESPNU telecast. The series then shifts to Waco for the final two contests. Big 12 Standings
Texas A&M 13-8
Kansas State 10-7-1
Texas Tech 9-12
Oklahoma State 6-11