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Series Preview: Texas Tech will face OSU in Lubbock Super Regional

Red Raiders welcome a familiar foe to town, this time for a chance at Omaha.

Brad Tollefson/AP

The Red Raiders will have to put the Cowboys away for a fourth and fifth time this season if they want a chance to be one of the eight teams in Omaha.

I’d simply be lying to you if that sentence doesn’t worry me a little.

I say a little because, by trade I am in the financial industry and ratios, numbers and probabilities are my every day. Acknowledging Tech swept this Oklahoma State squad in a conference series in Lubbock does give me comfort; however, it’s highly unlikely that this newly confident OSU team will go down in two straight games without a fight. The revenge factor they will bring to Lubbock, knowing what is at stake if they win, and the general rarity of a five game sweep of a conference opponent has me....a little worried.

Now, put down the pitchforks and let me explain why it’s only a little.

Oklahoma State was given a No. 9 seed in this tournament, largely based on it’s play down the stretch. After the sweep Tim Tadlock’s boys put on them in late April, the Cowboys went on to sweep reigning National Champion Oregon State Beavers in Corvalis, sweep the Percentage Points Baylor Bears, take two out of three from TCU, beat WVU for the Big 12 consolation tournament championship, and won the Stillwater/Oklahoma City regional against UConn.

By my count, that is at least 10 wins against tournament teams towards the tail end of their season....HOWEVAAAAH (say it like Stephen A. Smith, please), Oregon State was not who we thought they were, Baylor is still searching for percentage points and how they can spin it to where they actually won the Big 12, TCU was a pity pick from the tournament committee and a bad one, and WVU...well, they got Aggie’d.

Let’s get to the breakdown.

Offense:

Overall as a squad, Oklahoma State boasts a .269 average on the season, which ranks them fourth behind Baylor, Texas Tech and TCU. At face value, in a conference with pretty decent ballparks to hit in, that’s nothing to write home about. But, Oklahoma State does bring in a lineup that has combined for 86 home runs on the year. A full 21 home runs more than the second best team in the conference, TCU.

Typically, as a baseball analyst, you would correlate high amounts of home runs with a high slugging percentage or a lot of runs scored, right? Well, that’s where the Cowboys don’t fit that bill. The Cowboys rank fourth in runs scored on the season and third in slugging percentage. They even rank fourth in base on balls. What does that tell us?

A lot of solo home runs, not a lot of patience at the plate and a lot of strikeouts. How does that benefit Tech? Well, solo shots wont hurt you (unless you give up like 8 in an inning) and getting ahead in the count on hitters will decide a lot of this series.

For comparison’s sake, Texas Tech conference ranks in the same categories:

  • First in Base on Balls
  • Second in Slugging percentage
  • Third in Home runs
  • First in Runs
  • Second in Batting Average

Advantage: Texas Tech Red Raiders

Pitching:

In the three main categories you judge a pitching staff on, Oklahoma State ranks just about in the middle of the pack in almost every category amongst their conference foes.

Oklahoma State ranks fourth best in conference in Opponent’s Earned Run Average, a full 18 percentage points off Texas Tech, which ranks second. The Cowboys also rank sixth in Hits Allowed per Nine Innings, while Tech ranks fifth. Walks per Nine Innings ranks third best in the conference, so at least their pitchers aren’t giving any free passes.

Now, keep in mind, pitching stats are a bit harder to analyze, as there are so many more things involved with a pitcher giving up a hit (was a shift on? Did the catcher relay the correct sign from the dugout?), so this will be the thing to watch this weekend, in my opinion. Still, I’m going with Texas Tech, just due to the overall rest factor (yes, playing one day more early in the week DOES matter), and the depth of available arms.

Advantage: Texas Tech Red Raiders.

X-Factor:

Tim Tadlock. Do you think for one second Coach Tadlock isn’t going to have his boys prepared? Do you think Tadlock is just going to let these Raiders mosey around all week because they are playing a team they swept in late April? Absolutely not. I mean, come on, who wouldn’t want to go to battle for this man?

This team knows the work isn’t over. Every team from here on out is going to be a tough out. There are still 7 more wins to get. And it starts this weekend. Gimme Texas Tech with this one.

Again, while I am a bit worried, I still pledge my blind faith in Tim Tadlock and this team. He’s got a good feel for his team and the message, from top-down, is crystal clear. We’re not here to make a Super Regional. We’re not here to dogpile in Lubbock, Texas.

We’re here to dogpile in Omaha. Let’s. Go.

Advantage: Texas Tech Red Raiders