No. 24 Texas Longhorns baseball (31-17, 12-6 Big 12) will look to make a statement in Lubbock this weekend, as the ‘Horns will take on Texas Tech (34-12, 11-7 Big 12). The first pitch will be on Friday at 6:30 pm CST, and you can catch the action on Fox Sports Southwest + or by listening to 104.9 the Horn.
Texas pitching has allowed an average of eight runs over the last four contests, and the ‘Horns lost two of those games as a result. Frankly, Texas is lucky to have taken any of those, as it took a comeback win in the series opener against West Virginia and a walk-off grand slam against Texas State to win.
Hopefully, the Texas arms can bounce back quickly because Texas Tech is absolutely lethal at the plate. The Red Raiders have scored in double digits 17 times and have knocked home 20 or more runs five times this season. The team holds a .312 batting average, and has hit a whopping 60 homers (compared to only 23 allowed by opponents).
A pair of sophomore infielders lead the way at the plate for Tech. Third baseman Josh Jung bats at the three and has hit for a team-best .398 average and has nine homers. Shortstop Grant Little follows him at cleanup and holds a .391 average with a team-high 10 dingers.
The ‘Horns will go with their usual starting rotation of Nolan Kingham on Friday (5-2, 4.38 ERA), Chase Shugart on Saturday (4-2, 4.43), and Blair Henley (5-6, 3.32 ERA) on Sunday rotation. None of them had very good performances last weekend against West Virginia, as no starter went more than six innings and all of them allowed at least four runs.
Thankfully, the Red Raiders do not have a dominant pitching staff either, though Tech’s 4.04 team ERA beats Texas’ 4.41 team ERA. Texas Tech will start a trio of right-handers this weekend with Davis Martin (6-3, 3.17 ERA) taking the hill on Friday, Caleb Killian (7-1, 1.75 ERA) throwing on Saturday, and John McMillon (4-2, 4.14 ERA) starting on Sunday.
Killian is clearly one to watch, as the sophomore has enjoyed a breakout season with hitters only batting .183 against him. In a 6-0 shutout of TCU last Saturday, Killian struck out nine and allowed only one hit in six innings as starter. Friday starter Martin has been vulnerable at times this season, but the junior will likely find himself drafted early in this year’s MLB draft.
This weekend will no doubt be one of the season’s biggest challenges, and it comes at a time where the stakes are very high.
A disappointing series loss against West Virginia in Morgantown will make it tough for Texas to catch up to red-hot Oklahoma State, but the ‘Horns are certainly still in the hunt for a Big 12 title. With two series remaining, Texas has already surpassed its 2017 Big 12 win total of 11 games.
Aside from conference title aspirations, this weekend also obviously has major postseason implications. Being swept by Tech would mean the ‘Horns still have work to do to even get into the NCAA tournament. If Texas can win the series, however, then David Pierce’s team will be back in position to host a regional.
Here’s to hoping the ‘Horns are up for a test.
The comments below can serve as your open thread for tonight’s game. Hook ‘Em!