Oklahoma baseball: Sooners take on a Texas team that’s not that good

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 02: The shoes of Nicholas Castellanos #9 of the Detroit Tigers in the first inning as he stands at first base at Yankee Stadium on April 02, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 02: The shoes of Nicholas Castellanos #9 of the Detroit Tigers in the first inning as he stands at first base at Yankee Stadium on April 02, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

The 2019 Oklahoma baseball season has been inconsistent with plenty of highs and lows, but the Sooners have the chance to close out the regular season on a high note with a series win this weekend over Red River rival Texas.

The Sooners (31-20, 9-12) could be catching their archrivals at a good time. The reigning Big 12 champion Longhorns (26-25, 6-14) are currently in last place in the Big 12 standings and experiencing one of their worst seasons in the past decade.

Oklahoma needs just one win against Texas over the weekend to guarantee a spot in the Big 12 Championship next week. Texas, on the other hand, must sweep the three-game  series with the Sooners to have a chance to make the conference tournament. And that is exactly what makes this perhaps not the best time to be going up against their longtime rivals from south of the Red River.

Beware of a wounded and angry Longhorn — or, in this case, a herd of them. Especially when they are at home and with their season on the line. Anything short of a sweep will send the Longhorns home and waiting for next year.

As the ninth-place team in the Big 12, they would be left out of the Big 12 Tournament as well as NCAA postseason play, something that is highly uncharacteristic of a Texas program that historically is considered one of college baseball’s blue bloods, with six national championships, third most all-time.

This may be an unusual off year for Texas baseball, but the Longhorns have been dominant all-time against Oklahoma. The Horns own an overall 134-54-2 record against the Sooners, including series wins in the last two regular-season meetings.

Because of expected inclement weather in the Austin area over the weekend, the two teams will play a single game on Thursday and a doubleheader on Friday and conclude the series with a single game on Sunday afternoon.

What to know about Oklahoma

  • The Sooners have lost five of their last six games and back-to-back Big 12 series.
  • They are batting .264 as a team, fifth in the Big 12, and averaging 5.5 runs per game.
  • Oklahoma pitching ranks 31st in the nation with a staff ERA of 3.68. The Sooners are giving up 4.1 runs per game and a .242 opponents’ batting average.
  • First baseman Tyler Hardman continues to lead OU in hitting with a .303 average, but senior third baseman Brylie Ware has been the hottest Sooner lately.
  • Ware led the Sooners last week against Oklahoma State with a .333 batting average. He has hit safely in five consecutive games and needs just 11 hits to reach 200 for his three seasons at OU.
  • Sophomore infielder Tanner Tredaway leads OU in Big 12 play this season with a .327 batting average, 12 runs scored and a .431 on-base percentage.
  • Junior right-hander Nathan Wiles (7-3, 3.81 ERA) and sophomore left-hander Levi Prater (6-4, 2.93) will pitch for the Sooners in Friday night’s doubleheader. The starter for Sunday is still to be determined.
  • Freshman reliever Jason Ruffcorn leads all Big 12 closers with 10 saves.
  • The Sooners are No. 43 in the current NCAA RPI rankings. They are 13-10 in true road games this season and are 16-15 against teams in the RPI Top 100.

What to know about Texas

  • The Longhorns are 54th in the latest NCAA RPI rankings
  • Texas has been going through a difficult stretch, losing 10 of its last 12 games. Five of those losses came in the ninth inning.
  • There are seven freshman on the Texas pitching staff. Although the staff has issued 235 walks and dialed up 56 wild pitches, opponents are hitting just .235 against Longhorn pitching.
  • Outfielder Eric Kennedy leads Texas in hitting, as a freshman, with a .310 batting average.
  • Outfielder Todd Austin and designated hitter Zach Zubia wield the power bats in the Texas lineup. Austin leads the Horns with 38 runs batted in. Zubia has hit five home runs and driven in 34.

The bottom line

Forget the season records or the history. This is a rivalry series, and these two schools do not like each other. Expect a dogfight and that both sides will give everything they’ve got to get a win. The Oklahoma pitching should make the difference in the series. The Sooners are 20-68-1 against Texas in games played in Austin. Not this year, though. Look for OU to win two of three and turn the tables on their archrivals for a change.