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Conference Series Preview: Texas Tech

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Ryan Sluder’s heroics put the Cowboys back on a winning streak, but another top-25 matchup looms large this weekend.

The Breakdown

No. 9 OSU at No. 18 Texas Tech (26-15, 9-6 Big 12)
Rip Griffin Park, Lubbock, Texas
Tonight: 6:30 p.m., Fox College Sport
Saturday: 2:00 p.m.
Sunday: 2:00 p.m., Fox College Sport
All-Time Series: OSU leads 37-27
Last Season: 2-1 OSU

Tuesday’s 10-7, extra innings walkoff was huge for the Cowboys, beating the No. 1 RPI team in the country. OSU now has an 8-5 record against ranked opponents this year, and will get a chance to improve that in Lubbock this weekend.

However, Tech has won seven of its past eight games, and expects capacity crowds on hand. Can the Cowboys claim another series win and a stronger hold on the Big 12 crown? Or will the Red Raiders shake up the conference standings?

Offense
Advantage: Push

Tech has scored 51 runs in the past eight games, slightly better than the 5.63 runs/game they average. Freshman third baseman Orlando Garcia has a .381/.435/.524 slash line in conference games, giving TTU a threat towards the bottom of the lineup.

Meanwhile, the Cowboys have smashed 16 homers in 15 Big 12 games, but also have the second-most strikeouts (116). Maybe some of the guys could take some pointers from these coaches.

Pitching
Advantage: OSU

The Cowboys have a 1.94 ERA in conference play, almost a full run better than Tech. Thanks to future Pitcher of the Year Michael Freeman (0.92 ERA in 39 conference innings1) and a resurgent Tyler Nurdin (2.25 ERA in 5 conference games), OSU has a pitching advantage against almost any opponent.

That’s not to say Tech doesn’t have any good pitching. Senior right-hander Corey Taylor leads the nation with a 0.36 ERA in 50 innings, while Cameron Smith leads the team in wins (5) and innings pitched (63.2). However, this staff has allowed 169 walks this season, in which OSU’s offense happens to hold the conference lead. If the Cowboys can remain patient at the plate, they should be able to crack Tech’s pitchers.

Coaching
Advantage: TTU

Tim Tadlock is in his third season at Tech – similar to Holliday at OSU – but is one of the few coaches to have outperformed Holliday in that span. The reigning College Baseball Hall of Fame Coach of the Year took the Red Raiders to Omaha last season, after winning the first Regional and Super Regional in program history. Tadlock has his team positioned for its first Big   12 title since the inaugural 1997 season, and at just 46 years old, is one of the hottest names in the coaching carousel.

Prediction

The Pokes have struggled in road games this season (4-7 record) and a trip to Lubbock won’t make things easier. That said, I think this series is a coin flip. OSU is the better team, but I think TTU uses the home field advantage to take the series, 2-1.

Here are the updated conference standings. Right now it looks like a three-team race for the title, but TCU has played one fewer series than OSU, OU and Tech.

Team Conference Record Overall Record
Oklahoma State 10-5 27-13
Oklahoma 10-5 28-16
Texas Tech 9-6 26-15
TCU 7-5 31-8
Texas 8-7 22-19
West Virginia 5-7 23-15
Kansas State 5-10 18-21
Baylor 5-10 16-24
Kansas 4-8 17-24

 


1. As crazy as this is, he’s 3-2 in those games.

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