Baseball vs Kansas State Preview and Open Thread

Parker French, doing his best with what the offense provides. - Photo courtesy Tim Irby

The Texas baseball team continues to spiral from "disappointment" to "utter embarrassment" as the Wildcats of the Little Apple come to Austin.

First, we apologize for being MIA the past week. One of us got married last weekend, and work and life commitments have kept us from writing since then. But really, what would there have been to write? Every week for the last month or so, we have been writing that Augie Garrido needs to find a way to get his team on track by winning every remaining Big 12 series, preferably with a sweep or two thrown in, to have a chance at the NCAA Tournament.

Instead, Texas took a step in the opposite direction: whereas until last weekend they had lost two of three in every conference series, they got swept by Baylor in Waco. The lone bright spot for the past month had been the excellent, one-man-team Saturday performances on the mound by Dillon Peters; in Waco, the offense was so terrible that even another such outing couldn't secure a victory. Baylor took the Saturday game 1-0 (on a bases-loaded walk by Peters) after winning Friday's 6-2, and at that point Sunday's display of ineptitude was a mere formality.

There's not much to say about it except that, if Augie were to replace the entire batting order with the Texas UIL 5A state champion, it would surely be more productive than this bunch.

Normally a midweek game doesn't tell you much, but this week's edition spoke volumes. Texas hosted Prairie View A&M--the sixth-place team in the SWAC--and eked out a 1-0 win in which PVAMU out-hit Texas 8-5. An unearned run in the seventh inning was all that stood between the mighty Longhorns and extra innings with the in-state Panthers.

Augie was reduced to praising Jacob Felts for his hustle down the first-base line on a ground ball to second, which he credited with spooking the second baseman into making an error and letting Felts aboard. Felts came around to score on Jeremy Montalbano's RBI single, hence the unearned nature of the game's lone run.

So here's where Texas now stands. It's now pointless to talk about what they can do to get an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament; that is, quite simply, off the table. Even if they won the remainder of their games, they'd finish the season at 31-20 overall, 11-13 in conference.

The goal now is to avoid the unthinkable: if the season ended today, Texas would still be the one and only team left out of the Big 12 Tournament. By virtue of getting swept by Baylor while Texas Tech managed to steal a win from OU, Texas sits alone in the league cellar. If the Longhorns can't make up their one-game deficit vis-a-vis the Red Raiders in their final two series (Texas plays K-State and TCU, while Tech takes on Oklahoma State and Baylor), they will finish dead last in a middling conference and watch the Big 12 Tournament on TV.

This is obviously not a year where Omaha is in the cards, but if this team has even an ounce of pride they'll fight like hell to avoid bringing that level of shame on the program.

Meanwhile, K-State is having a nice year. They sit at 9-6 in the Big 12, which is good for a tie for tihrd place at the moment. Their starting pitching is solid but hittable, and their lineup is the definition of balance. There's not one guy who jumps out at you as the one you need to be careful with, but eight of the Wildcats' starters are batting over .300.

Compare that to a whopping two for Texas (and Erich Weiss is barely hanging on at .309). Jared King and Shane Conlon are KSU's power hitters, combing for 13 dingers and 20 doubles on the year. Compare that to Texas' 12 dingers, total.

You can see it start tonight at 6:35 on LHN, and this is your open thread. Your probable pitching matchups:

Friday - RHP Levi MaVorhis (4-0, 3.00) vs. RHP Parker French (3-4, 2.51)

Saturday - RHP Matt Wivinis (6-1, 4.65) vs. LHP Dillon Peters (4-3, 1.75)

Sunday - RHP Blake McFadden (4-2, 4.17) vs. RHP Nathan Thornhill (2-5, 2.54)

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