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Texas travels to Stillwater for key series against Oklahoma State

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The Cowboys sit in second place in the Big 12 standings after a series loss to the Jayhawks.

NCAA Baseball: College World Series-Arizona vs Oklahoma State Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

In a highly-competitive Big 12, little separates the first-place Baylor Bears and the seventh-place Texas Longhorns — at 5-6 in conference, the Longhorns are only three games behind the 8-3 Bears.

The Oklahoma State Cowboys sit in second place at 7-5, affording Texas a big opportunity to move up in the standings during a pre-Easter series that begins in Stillwater on Thursday evening at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium. Based on the Massey Composite rankings, the series is well matched, with Texas ranking No. 29 nationally and Oklahoma State ranking No. 32.

Coached by Cowboys alum Josh Holliday, Oklahoma State is coming off a disappointing weekend series loss to Kansas in Lawrence — after winning the first game 27-6, the Pokes dropped the next two by a total of three runs.

Seven of 11 players who earned all-conference honors on last season’s second-place team returned this year. The experienced trio of Trevor Boone, Christian Funk, and Colin Simpson is rather boom or bust, with Boone leading the group with a .272 average. However, they do have plenty of power — each player has at least eight home runs, with Boone leading the way with 10, three of them coming during Friday’s rout of Kansas. Andrew Navigato has nine of his own and Oklahoma State has 49 as a team, overall, in stark contrast to a pitching staff that has allowed only 17 home runs this season.

The staff has a solid 3.95 ERA by holding opponents to a .248 batting average. Oklahoma State has not announced the Friday and Saturday starters yet, but junior right-hander Jensen Elliott (4-2, 4.53) will take the mound on Thursday. Elliott isn’t a strikeout pitcher and has allowed opponents to bat .279 against him. Four other pitchers have started five games this season, with big redshirt freshman right-hander Brett Standlee closing out the Kansas series after senior right-hander Joe Lienhard only went three innings on Saturday.

Holliday owns a 15-9 mark against the Longhorns, though Texas did win the final two games to take the series in Austin last year.

First pitch on Thursday is now scheduled for 7:40 p.m. Central on FS1 due to rain in the Stillwater area that pushed the start time back 35 minutes. Stay tuned for any additional updates.