Texas Tech begins crucial Big 12 stretch against Oklahoma State

The Texas Tech baseball team plays perhaps its most important stretch of the season over the next two weekends — beginning Friday with a three-game series against Oklahoma State.


The next weekend? No. 6 TCU. Both opponents were in the College World Series last season along with Texas Tech.

The fifth-ranked Red Raiders and Cowboys get underway at 6:30 p.m. Friday with Saturday’s and Sunday’s games scheduled for 2 p.m.

Oklahoma State is only 21-15 this season and is in eighth place in the Big 12 standings with a 4-8 league record. But, Texas Tech coach Tim Tadlock knows better than to take the Cowboys lightly.

“Really, on any given weekend you can get caught up in what the other team is doing and no focus as much on what we need to do to get better,” he said. “Really, the biggest thing we have to do is get better each day and let the chips fall where they may.

“The one thing you can’t do is win a Big 12 championship tomorrow. There is a lot of baseball to be played and you can get off track thinking about things you don’t need to think about. We need to do all the cliches all you guys have heard and continue to play the game the right way.”

Scouting the Cowboys

The Cowboys are coming off a 43-22 season in which they advanced to the College World Series for the 20th time in program history, making their first trip to Omaha since 1999 and finishing tied for third.

Seven starters returned from a year ago, led by corner infielders Garrett Benge and Dustin Williams, while Preseason All-American Tyler Buffett, along with Trey Cobb and Jensen Elliott, returned to anchor the pitching staff.

Led by Garrett McCain’s Big 12 Conference-best .368 batting average. Oklahoma State ranks second in the Big 12 conference with a .382 on-base percentage despite ranking sixth with a .273 batting average, while the pitching staff owns a 4.17 ERA.

Colin Simpson is also having a breakout sophomore season for the Cowboys. The catcher and designated hitter is tied for the team lead with eight home runs and is second with a .315 batting average, 29 RBIs and .559 slugging percentage.

Simpson has done the majority of his damage against Big 12 competition as in 12 conference games he’s hitting .349 with six homers and 18 RBIs — no other Cowboy has more than one homer or nine RBIs in league play.

But, all of that hasn’t led to as many wins as the Cowboy faithful might have hoped for. Oklahoma State has been hit hard by the injuries this season, with four position starters missing key time and two-thirds of the expected weekend rotation — Parker Scott and Jensen Elliott — pitching briefly before being lost for the season.

“(OSU pitching coach)Rob Walton does a good job with whoever he has,” Tadlock said. “He has been doing this a long time and he has plenty of guys who can pitch. What were they calling him (in the CWS)? The magician? Those guys were making him look like one at that time.

“Everyone’s weekend starters in this league are going to give them an opportunity.”

Probable starters

6:30 p.m., Friday: Tech RHP Erikson Lanning (2-0, 2.81 ERA) vs. Oklahoma State RHP Joe Leienhard (2-0, 3.24 ERA)

2 p.m., Saturday: Tech LHP Steven Gingery (7-0, 1.48) vs. Oklahoma State RHP Tyler Buffett (5-2, 4.12 ERA)

2 p.m. Sunday: Tech RHP Ryan Shetter (2-0, 3.86) vs. Oklahoma State LHP Cole Hearrean (0-3, 4.34 ERA)



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