Following a close loss to Texas A&M on Tuesday, the Longhorns will have a chance to redeem themselves against another top rival.
Texas Longhorns baseball (22-13, 9-3 Big 12) will take on the No. 16 Oklahoma Sooners (25-11, 8-1 Big 12) in Norman this weekend. The first pitch of the three-game conference series will be at 6:30 pm Central on Friday evening.
Oklahoma is currently first in the Big 12, and playing the Sooners on their home turf will be a tall task. Road wins in general have been tough to come by for Texas this season — the ‘Horns are only 4-7 on the road, including a series loss to lowly Kansas State.
OU has been a very balanced team thus far, led by both excellent hitting and pitching. Junior outfielder Steele Walker, who was a First Team All-Big 12 selection last season, headlines the hitters. Walker is hitting a team-best .328 with a team-high eight homers on the year.
The Sooners are consistent throughout their lineup, as the team is hitting .284 as a group. Kyler Murray (ever heard of him?) is batting .306.
On the pitching side, Oklahoma’s Friday and Saturday pitchers have not recorded a loss yet this year. Friday arm RHP Jake Ervin (5-0, 2.77 ERA) has 55 K’s to his name in his 48.1 innings pitched, and batters are only hitting .176 against him. Saturday RHP Devon Perez (4-0, 2.61 ERA) provides act two of the dangerous 1-2 punch, as the 6’5 senior was an All-Big 12 Honorable Mention last season and is having another solid year.
Sophomore righty Nathan Wiles (2-2, 4.04 ERA) will get the call on Sunday to round out the weekend rotation.
Texas will be rolling with its regular weekend starters — Nolan Kingham (4-2, 4.14 ERA) on Friday, Chase Shugart (3-2, 4.86 ERA) on Saturday, and Blair Henley (5-3, 2.92 ERA) on Sunday.
Shugart and Henley were excellent last weekend against Baylor, as both went seven complete innings and allowed only one run between them (a solo shot on Henley).
Kingham, however, only made it through two innings before he was pulled in his Friday start. The ‘Horns ultimately pulled out a 9-5 victory, but Kingham allowed seven hits, a walk, and four runs (two earned) in what was another head-scratching performance from a guy who was on the Golden Spikes Award preseason watch list.
When Texas has occasionally faltered from the mound this season, the team’s offense has been able to keep the group in it. The ‘Horns, hitting .272 as a team, have been led by Kody Clemens. Clemens’ breakout junior year has resulted thus far in a team-best .367 average and team-high nine homers.
The stakes are high for this series, as Texas could potentially overtake Oklahoma for the top spot in the Big 12 and land in the top 25 nationally with an excellent weekend. Oklahoma is the hotter team right now and will have home-field advantage, but on paper the series is pretty evenly matched — the ‘Horns are ranked No. 27 in Boyd’s World’s Iterative Strength Rankings, while the Sooners sit at No. 23.
You can catch tonight’s game by listening to 104.9 the Horn. Saturday’s game will be featured on ESPNU and the Sunday finale will be on ESPN2.
This post can serve as the open thread for tonight’s game. Hook ‘Em!