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No. 19 Texas baseball hits the country roads for showdown in Morgantown

The Longhorns are in a tight race for the top spot in the conference and the West Virginia Mountaineers will be a tough hurdle in Texas’ quest for a Big 12 Championship.

Ryan Reynolds
Texas Sports // @TexasBaseball Twitter

No. 19 Texas Longhorns baseball (29-14, 11-4 Big 12) travels to Morgantown this weekend to face the West Virginia Mountaineers (20-18, 4-8 Big 12) in a three-game conference test. The first pitch of the series will be on Friday at 5:30 pm CST. You can listen to the game on 104.9 the Horn and watch here, at WVU Sports.

West Virginia was ranked fifth in the Big 12 preseason coaches poll, only four votes behind Texas at third. The Mountaineers, however, have had a tumultuous season thus far. WVU is in seventh in the Big 12 with a 4-8 conference record, and sits at 20-18 overall.

Interestingly enough, the Mountaineers still hold the No. 33 RPI in the nation despite the poor record, and there’s evidence that WVU is better ball club than the win-loss column shows. The Mountaineers have had a top 10 strength of schedule and have taken a game against No. 4 Texas Tech in Lubbock and won a game at home against No. 23 Ok. State.

The confirmed pitchers for WVU this weekend are righty BJ Myers (0-1, 4.89 ERA) on Friday and righty Kade Strowd (4-3, 4.24 ERA) on Saturday. Myers has allowed hitters to bat .302 against him and can get wild, with 12 hit by pitches on the year. Command will also be key for Strowd, as the sophomore has allowed the most walks on the team with 26 free passes in 46.2 innings pitched. Despite their flaws, both guys have huge strikeout potential — Myers has 40 K’s, while Strowd has a team-best 46.

At the plate, West Virginia posts very similar numbers to Texas. The Mountaineers have a .269 team average, compared to Texas’ .270 mark, and have bashed 34 homers compared to Texas’ 38. Texas walks much more, which explains why the ‘Horns have a .382 OBP, while West Virginia sits at .354.

The Mountaineers have a trio of dangerous hitters in the 3-4-5 spots. Right-fielder Darius Hill bats third and holds a .311 batting average, team-best 15 doubles, and four home runs. First baseman Marquez Inman follows at clean-up and has a team best .347 average with five homers. Second-baseman Kyle Gray is the last of the triple threat and has a .331 average with a team-high seven dingers.

The Longhorn starters opposing WVU’s hitters will be the usual Nolan Kingham (5-2, 4.29 ERA) on Friday, Chase Shugart (4-2, 4.12 ERA) on Saturday, and Blair Henley (5-5, 3.05 ERA) on Sunday. Kingham faced trouble yet again in the early going last weekend against New Orleans, and ultimately allowed nine hits and six runs in his seven complete innings (though Texas would go on to win). His big brother Nick will be getting his first MLB start tonight for the Pirates, so maybe that big league magic will rub off on Nolan.

With only three conference series remaining on the schedule, every game down the stretch is pivotal for Texas’ chances at hosting a regional and winning the Big 12.

The ‘Horns are currently in second place in the conference, as Oklahoma State leads the Big 12 with a 12-3 record (two of those losses came against Texas). The Cowboys will host Oklahoma this weekend.

Needless to say, it’s another big weekend for the ‘Horns. You can discuss in the comments below — Hook ‘Em.