It seems as if the college baseball season began just a few weeks ago. Yet, at the one-month anniversary of the start of the 2019 season, Texas will play its first conference game — and its biggest game of the young season. This weekend, the No. 12 Texas Longhorns will play host to the No. 11 Texas Tech Red Raiders in a series that should certainly hold weight once the end of the season arrives.
Texas enters this series having already gone through a relative gauntlet of opponents.
The Horns past two weekend series included then-No. 2 LSU and at then-No. 6 Stanford. Those tough out of conference games against ranked opponents have been of value to the Horns, going a combined 4-3 and gaining valuable game time against some of the nation’s top teams. That experience helped Texas out tremendously last year en route to a conference championship — the Longhorns hope this year’s tough schedule can do the same.
They’ll get their first chance at repeating as Big 12 Champions against a more-than-capable Texas Tech. The Red Raiders may not have won the Big 12 last year, but had their fair share of successes, pacing the Big 12 in the rankings all year long and also making a College World Series appearance alongside Texas. That success was expected to be carried over into 2019, earning the Red Raiders a preseason No. 4 ranking and the honors of pre-season Big 12 favorite.
Texas Tech hasn’t gotten off to the start it would have hoped, but still enters this series as the top-ranked team in the Big 12 at No. 11. Sporting an overall record of 11-3, Texas Tech has really only played one marquee opponent this season, No. 6 Mississippi State in Frisco, and lost that game 2-4.
This weekend series will ultimately come down to which of the respective team’s biggest strengths — Texas Tech’s hitting or Texas’ pitching — can win out over the other. Texas Tech boasts the fifth-highest runs per game mark in the nation, averaging a score of 9.1 each game on the season. The Red Raiders also possess lethal power in their lineup, as their 20 home runs are tied for 16th best in the NCAA and their team slugging percentage of .511 is seventh nationally.
Meanwhile, the Longhorns excel in their own respective way — patience and finesse. Texas is tenth in the country in walks drawn and 16th in the nation in allowing just 6.64 hits per game. And yes, that includes playing 7-of-19 games against ranked opponents.
And speaking of pitching, you can expect the usual suspects to start Friday and Saturday’s games for the Longhorns. Though Sunday’s starter hasn’t been officially announced, it’s a good bet that Fr. RHP Coy Cobb will see another Sunday start.
Friday (6:30 p.m. Central) — So. RHP Bryce Elder (2-1, 1.54) vs. R-Jr. LHP Erickson Lanning (0-0, 1.69)
Saturday (2:30 p.m. Central)– Jr. RHP Blair Henley (2-0, 4.79) vs. Jr. RHP Caleb Kilian (0-2, 9.19)
Sunday (1:00 p.m. Central)– TBA vs. Fr. LHP Mason Montgomery (2-0, 5.02)
Though Texas leads the all time series 114-48, there are some weird trends going on between these two schools as of late. According to the BON stats and info department, (aka google) since 2012 the road team has won the series each year, with the overall record between the schools sitting at 12-11. Also, Texas Tech has won their last five games in Austin, including a series sweep in 2017.
If you’re in Austin, you should try to get out to the Disch to support the burnt orange and white in what is likely their biggest conference series of the season. If you can’t make it out, you can catch the games on the Longhorn Network, or listen in on 104.9 FM The Horn/1260 AM.
Win the series for Augie.