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Series Preview: A&M

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Photo Attribution: Flickr: bjoelio

When: Tonight – 6:30 PM, Friday – 6:30 PM, Saturday – 1 PM

Where: Allie P. Stadium in Stillwater

Big 12 Standings:

Baylor – 18-3
A&M – 13-8
Texas – 13-8
Oklahoma State 13-8
OU – 13-10 (one game against KU cancelled, finished with Big 12 schedule)

What’s at Stake: A top four finisher in the Big 12 has never missed the NCAA Tournament. Even though the Big 12 is a little down this season, unless OSU gets swept and falls below OU in the standings, they should be safely in. So, don’t get swept.

Pitching Matchups: Tonight is going to be a classic. You guys know the Andrew Heaney story – probable top 15 pick, second in the country in Ks, two-time Big 12 pitcher of the week, but A&M counters with their own blue-chip prospect in Michael Wacha.

In its latest draft projections, Baseball America had Wacha going #14 to the Reds, one pick before Heaney. The two have combined to go 16-1 with 215 Ks and five shutouts on the year. Translation: if you show up 30 minutes late, be prepared to do the 7th inning stretch.

Tomorrow and Saturday will be just as solid. A&M and OSU have the only two staffs with sub-3 ERAs in the Big 12 (mid-2000s college coaches would have sacrificed small domestic animals for this number) and both have strong #2 and #3 starters. For OSU it will be Vince Wheeland and Randy McCurry (combined 6-3 with 98 Ks in 110.1 IP) and for A&M, Ross Stripling (9-2, 97 Ks in 103 IP) and Rafael Pineda (no relation to Michael but a strong 5-1 record with a 2.51 ERA anyway).

Also of note, A&M and OSU have both surrendered exactly 171 runs and 143 earned runs.

Oh, Hitters Too!: Neither team is real keen on the power dept. A&M sports a decent .769 OPS while OSU counters with a probably-below-average .721. A&M has fewer home runs this year (18) than Josh Hamilton while the Cowboys only have a few more (23). The Aggies love to run though, their 112 SB lead the Big 12 where as OSU likes to run about as much as Robert Allen likes to run (37 SB on the season).

A&M does have the best hitter in the Big 12, and another probable first round pick, in Tyler Naquin. The junior has a hefty 1.008 OPS with 15 2B and 43 RBI on the year. OSU, on the other hand, only has one player who barely cracks the top ten in the Big 12 in batting with Robbie Rea (21 multi-hit games and a .900 OPS).

Prediction: OSU is 24-4 at home this year (6-0 in the Big 12) but this series will be their biggest test to date. They need another jewel from Heaney tonight because their #2 and #3 starters aren’t as good as A&M’s #2 and #3 starters. I expect nothing less than a Gallagher-Iba-sized crowd (hey, that fills up Allie P!) out for blood the next three days. Take the series, lock up an NCAA tourney bid in the process, and send A&M along their way to that other conference. 2-1, good guys take the series.

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