After 12 games and eight finalists whittled down to just two, the 2015 Big 12 baseball tournament is ready for its conclusion with the championship game on Sunday.
Saturday's semifinals saw No. 5 Texas end No. 8 Baylor's dream run by a 4-0 scoreline, while No. 2 Oklahoma State defeated in-state rival No. 3 Oklahoma 5-1 to advance to the conference championship tilt. It made for a tidy final four, as wins from Baylor or Oklahoma would have meant extra baseball in this double-elimination tournament.
Overall, the Big 12 tourney played out as one might have expected, with upstart Baylor and No. 1 TCU's early flame-out supplying the only major surprises.
Here's a look at the schedule, TV info, predictions and preview for the big game.
What: 2015 Big 12 baseball tournament championship, No. 2 Oklahoma State vs. No. 5 Texas
Where: ONEOK Field in Tulsa, Oklahoma
When: 12 p.m. CT
Watch: Fox Sports 1
Texas' starting pitching has been uniformly excellent in this tournament, so much so that the Longhorns have yet to trot out a relief pitcher in three games.
|May 20||Parker French||Texas Tech||9||8||1||1||1||6|
|May 21||Ty Culbreth||Baylor||9||5||3||3||3||6|
|May 23||Connor Mayes||Baylor||9||2||0||0||3||10|
While it's highly unlikely that Texas will get another nine-inning effort from it's championship starter, it does lend them a certain air of impunity. Having a supremely well-rested bullpen at this stage in the season is a major advantage, but this doesn't necessarily mean Texas has the overall advantage when it comes to pitching.
The Cowboys have given up just two runs in the Big 12 tourney, while Texas has allowed four. OSU head coach attributed the team's stinginess to excellent defensive play.
"We continue to play tremendous defense, which when you watch these games you appreciate how one play here or there could change an inning," Holliday said, via OKState.com. "Our kids have been awesome on the infield, making play after play. That's been a big piece of why we've been able to pitch so well."
Oklahoma State's offense has also been in fine form this tournament, putting up totals of three, 10 and five runs on their way to the championship game. Texas, meanwhile, has scored just 10 runs total.
The Cowboys are also 3-0 on the season against Texas, outscoring them 17-7 in those games. However, Oklahoma State will have to be mindful of Texas catcher Tres Barrera, who is 3-for-7 over the last two contests with three runs scored and three RBI. His efforts also included this early home run, via Big 12 Sports:
Oklahoma State has received excellent offensive contributions from shortstop Donnie Williams and first baseman Dustin Williams in tourney play.
While the Cowboys could go in any number of directions for their championship starter, Ryan Autullo of the Austin-American Statesman points to Parker French or freshman Kyle Johnston as possibilities for Texas.
French last pitched on Wednesday, while Johnston's last appearance came on May 17, where the righty scattered three hits and allowed no earned runs in five innings of work in a win over Baylor. Johnston hasn't had much work as a starter, making French a very appealing option for Texas and a daunting task for Oklahoma State.
Sunday's game could have implications beyond Big 12 supremacy. Oklahoma State is ranked 11th in the nation in RPI and should be able to host a regional in the NCAA tournament. However, the Cowboys could join TCU—seventh in RPI and second in the latest USA Today Coaches Poll, per NCAA.com—as super regional hosts, assuming both teams survive and Oklahoma State is high enough in the rankings.
A conference-title win for OSU would go a long way toward that possibility, and two super regional hosts would go a long way toward reminding people of the talent in the overlooked Big 12.
Prediction: Oklahoma State 3-2 Texas