For those of us who love Texas baseball, this season has been the quintessential emotional roller coaster. Midway through the conference season, a national seed and conference championship looked like they were there for the taking. Some old problems began to resurface against the two best teams on the schedule as Texas went 1-5 against TCU and Oklahoma State, ceding control of the Big 12 to those two squads. They followed that up by dropping 2 of 3 at West Virginia, and suddenly the season appeared to be going up in flames. The best-case scenario was to go to Manhattan this weekend, dominate the sad-sack Wildcats, and maybe play their way back to the bubble of the hosting conversation.
Step one on that path has been accomplished, as the Longhorn bats woke up on the same night that Dillon Peters turned in his best performance of an already great season. It was one of those situations where you kind of wish they could save some of those runs for a time when they'll need them, as Texas put up 12 when 1 would have done the trick. But from a squishy, "confidence intangibles mental game back-in-my-day" perspective, getting hot tonight can only be a good thing going forward.
The Longhorns pounded out 19 hits and, encouragingly, managed crooked numbers in three separate innings. In a game full of great performances, Madison Carter and Kacy Clemens stood out. Both homered in the ninth (Carter nailed a solo shot followed by Clemens' three-run dinger a few batters later), and Carter was a perfect 3-for-3, adding an RBI single and a double to the home run. Tres Barrera also deserves special mention, as the freshman catcher went 3-for-4 with a walk and a double.
As for the pitching, well, Kansas State had 0 runs on 0 hits, so the pitching did ok I guess. Peters threw 94 pitches in his 7 innings of work, and at this point in the season--with the kid's long-term future also in mind--it's hard to fault Augie for pulling him despite the chance at a complete-game no-no. He walked three and struck out eight before yielding to Morgan Cooper's two innings of no-hit ball.
Okie State clinched a well-deserved outright regular-season Big 12 title last night with a walk-off win against OU, also clinching the series (which started Thursday night). The Longhorns' best-case finish is to sweep the Wildcats and have WVU pull off one win against Texas Tech today, thereby allowing the Longhorns to slip past the Raiders for the 4 seed in the Big 12 tourney. But for conference tourney purposes that's really quite irrelevant, as Texas-Texas Tech is mathematically assured of being the first matchup. It's just a question of who wears white.
The real reason Texas needs to finish the job started last night is to improve their NCAA Tournament position. A sweep tonight and tomorrow followed by a decent performance in OKC could mean an outside chance at hosting a first-weekend regional. Anything short of that likely means a two seed somewhere else.
Tonight's game is at 6:30 on Fox College Sports Atlantic, and Nathan Thornhill takes the hill with his 1.75 ERA. This is your open thread. Hook 'em!