On Saturday, the bats of the No. 22 Oklahoma State Cowboys were as hot as they could be, as the Cowboys cranked out seven home runs en route to an 11-6 victory in Waco over the Baylor Bears.
*Note: All rankings in this article are from the D1Baseball.com Poll*
Trevor Boone was unbeatable, batting a perfect 4-for-4 on the afternoon, including three home runs in his first three at-bats, then settled for an infield single. He rounded out his day with a walk (which is not technically considered an official AB) for a perfect 1.000 on-base percentage.
With the impressive display of power, Boone joins 13 other former Cowboys to have three home runs in one game. This was the first occurrence since 2012, when Robbie Rea accomplished the feat.
Colin Simpson added two more home runs to bring his team-leading season total to 17. Simpson was 2-for-4 with two HRs, three runs, five RBIs and a walk.
Carson Teel didn’t have the best outing, but did pick up the win to move to 7-2 in 18 appearances on the season. In five innings of work, he gave up five runs (all earned) on nine hits, five walks and only striking out three.
With the win, the Cowboys are slowly moving closer to their first conference championship since 2014 and the second of Josh Holliday’s tenure at the helm of the program.
The Cowboys are currently at the top of the Big 12 with a 16-4 conference record. Texas is currently residing in second place with a 14-7 conference record, with OU just a game behind at 13-8.
- Oklahoma State has four games left on its conference schedule, with the series finale and rubber game with the Baylor Bears tomorrow. The Cowboys will then return home to take on the No. 12 Texas Tech Red Raiders (35-15, 12-9) next week. The first game gets started at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, with the series finale taking place Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. from Allie P. Reynolds Stadium. The “magic number” for the Cowboys is at 2, meaning they need two games to fall their way for an outright conference championship.
- Texas has three conference games left, as they take on the surprisingly disappointing TCU Horned Frogs (27-19, 8-10 Big 12) next weekend in Austin.
- Oklahoma also has three conference games left. For the Sooners’ regular season finale, they will head to Lawrence to take on the Jayhawks in a 3-game series.
The race for the Big 12 regular-season conference title is down to the Cowboys and the Longhorns. Surprisingly, the two teams that split the preseason coaches’ poll votes - TCU (5) and Texas Tech (4) are both mathematically eliminated. Texas was picked to finish third, while the Cowboys were tied for sixth place with Kansas.
Let’s look at the scenarios as to how the Big 12 baseball regular-season title could shake out. (Note: any games not mentioned for victor’s scenario are considered losses.)
- Oklahoma State wins with: 2 victories in the final four conference games (1 at Baylor, 3 vs. Texas Tech) (outright)
- Oklahoma State wins with: 1 victory and 1 Texas loss (3 vs. TCU) (outright)
- Oklahoma State wins with: 2 Texas losses (outright)
- Oklahoma State wins with: 2 Texas losses, 3 Oklahoma wins (3 at Kansas) (tiebreaker)
- Texas wins with: 3 wins and 3 Oklahoma State losses (tiebreaker)
- Texas wins with: 3 wins and 4 Oklahoma State losses (outright)
- Texas wins with: 2 wins and 4 Oklahoma State losses (tiebreaker)
To the best of my knowledge and my understanding of the tiebreaker rules, these are the only seven scenarios that can happen in the final games of the regular season.
Let’s break it down.
- The first three scenarios for the Cowboys are relatively simple and straightforward. They control their own destiny. Win two games and nothing else matters.
- If Texas drops one game and the Cowboys pick up one of their final four games, that will clinch the outright title for OSU.
- If Texas drops two games, it doesn’t matter if the Cowboys lose all four, the Longhorns will still end up a game behind the Cowboys for the lead.
- Here’s where it starts to get a bit tricky. We’ve already established that with two losses, the Longhorns will be eliminated. However, OU could still finish with the same conference record as the Cowboys at 16-8 (if the Cowboys drop their final four games). However, thanks to a 3-0 conference dismantling of OU, Josh Holliday’s squad owns the tiebreaker over the in-state rivals, thus clinching the title. This would also mean the Sooners would finish second in the Big 12 race as the Longhorns slide to third.
- If Texas sweeps the TCU Horned Frogs next week and the Cowboys can’t go .500 over their final four games, the two teams will finish the season with identical 17-7 conference records. If this happens, Texas will steal the title away, thanks to the 2-1 season series win that happened way back in the Pokes’ conference opener in March.
- If the Cowboys cannot win a single game in the next seven days and Texas completes the sweep, they will win the conference title outright by a single game.
- This is essentially the same scenario as #5, just with the numbers a bit different.
Oklahoma State cannot finish lower than second place, thanks to a tiebreaker over OU and no other team being close enough to finish tied.
Oklahoma cannot win the conference, even with a 3-way tie at the end of the season, as both the Cowboys and the Longhorns have the tiebreaker over the Sooners.
Texas Tech cannot win the title, as they are currently sitting 4.5 games back of the Cowboys with just the three in Stillwater left.
In the long term, there may not be a ton of postseason implications to winning the regular season title, as it’s the Big 12 tournament champion that receives the auto-bid to regionals and not the regular season champion. The Cowboys have already secured a first-round bye in the Big 12 tournament, which will be hosted in Oklahoma City at the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark.
Still, it’s fun to be able to go through the title-clinching scenarios - especially considering the Cowboys’ preseason poll placement. Not bad for a team that had to replace so much after last season and was expected to have a rebuilding year, huh?