In just a short while, the Cowboys will face off with the Texas Tech Red Raiders on the black infields of Rip Griffin Park in Lubbock.
Here are the quick hits for this weekend’s series:
Oklahoma State (21-15, 4-8 Big 12) at No. 4 Texas Tech Red Raiders (32-8, 8-4 Big 12)
Friday: 6:30 p.m.
Saturday: 2 p.m.
Sunday: 2 p.m.
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LISTEN: Cowboys Radio Network
Texas Tech is having another great year as we have come to expect out of the College World Series regular participants. The Red Raiders are second in the conference behind in-state rival TCU and are only one game back of tying for the lead.
This season, Tech’s defense is stellar as they try to make up for the non-existent defense in football. (I couldn’t help myself.) The team as a whole boasts a .981 fielding percentage, which is good for 12th best in the nation.
Hunter Hargrove leads the Red Raiders on the offensive side of the ball, owning a .337 batting average, while hitting 17 doubles, two triples and four home runs. He has knocked in 36 RBIs and crossed the plate himself 35 times. If the Cowboys want to limit this Texas Tech offense that averages more than seven runs per game, shutting down Hargrove would be a good place to start.
Steven Gingery leads the Red Raiders’ pitching staff. The southpaw is a perfect 7-0 on the year, owning a 1.48 ERA. He has only surrendered 12 runs in the 60.2 innings worked this season, and has an impressive 67:15 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Expect Gingery to take the bump in Saturday’s game.
RHP Ryan Shetter is expected to pitch the final game of the series Sunday. Shetter is 2-0 on the season with a 3.86 ERA. He has given up 20 runs in 42.0 innings pitched, and has allowed five HRs on the year.
Friday’s starter will be Erickson Lanning. Lanning owns a 2-0 record with 13 appearances. Another LHP, Lanning has a 2.81 ERA on the year, but only 25.2 innings pitched. Look for the Red Raiders to use a pitch-by-committee technique that Cowboy fans are accustomed to.
Coach Josh Holliday has released two of the three starters, with Joe Lienhard getting the nod for Friday’s game. Lienhard has made 14 appearances on the season, mostly out of the bullpen. The righty is 2-0 on the season with a 3.48 ERA in his 31.0 innings pitched. He has struck out 31 batters while walking 17, and has only given up five extra-base hits on the year.
Cowboy ace Tyler Buffet will duel with Gingery Saturday. Buffett is a 5-2 record on the season. His ERA is less than great (4.12), but he has been forced to stay in some tough situations due to the depleted pitching staff. Buffett leads the team in strikeouts thrown (50), but also leads the team in runs given up (27). Regardless, he is still Holliday’s go-to guy, and look for him to turn Saturday’s game into a pitchers’ duel.
At the plate, Garrett McCain continues to be lead dog for the Cowboys. His .368 batting average leads the team, with Ryan Cash coming in second owning a .317 average. McCain is responsible for roughly 14 percent of the team’s runs this season, driving in 23 and scoring 37 times. He walks almost as much as he strikes out, so he has good discipline at the plate.
Colin Simpson is playing well in Big 12 games. The sophomore catcher is batting .349 and has hit six home runs against conference opponents. His .791 slugging percentage is head-and-shoulders above anyone else on the team. Simpson is responsible for 22 percent of the runs in conference play, and has hit home runs in each of the last two games.
If the Cowboys can get the series win in enemy territory, their postseason dreams may not be dead yet. However, if they drop the series, I’d be willing to bet they will stay home for the first time in Josh Holliday’s tenure.