Cowboys, Longhorns Prepare For Showdown

Oklahoma State baseball fans have been waiting for weekend. Cowboys fans can go back to what many like to call the "Decade of Dominance" and the glory days that current OSU head coach Josh Holliday watched as a young boy. Many of those fans remember some of the classic match-ups usually in Omaha but on occasion in an NCAA regional when the Cowboys and the Texas Longhorns met on the diamond.

In the all-time series, Texas leads Oklahoma State 50-34, but last season the Cowboys took two out of three from the Horns in Stillwater.

This weekend brings back memories because you have two top-10 teams (OSU is No. 9 in the NCBWA poll and Texas is No. 10). Oklahoma State leads the Big 12 with an 11-4 record, and Texas is in third at 9-6.

The conference title, Big 12 Tournament seeding, a possible NCAA seeding, and possible regional and super regional hosting is on the line at Disch-Falk Field this Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

The difference between the old days and today is the BBCOR bats and the somewhat dead baseballs. The equipment has brought all the teams closer together and an example is this match-up.

Oklahoma State is hitting .267 as a team and the Cowboys opponents are hitting .251. Texas is batting .262 as a team and its opponents are hitting .223. The Cowboys score six runs a game; the Longhorns average scoring 4.6 runs. Texas's team ERA is a sizzling 2.15, but Oklahoma State is not far off with a team ERA of 3.35.

"The bats really have made it even, and you are right, it comes down to being able to execute the bunt game like we did last Friday against Kansas with four bunt singles, getting a key out with runners on base, or getting that base hit at the right time," Josh Holliday said. "Texas has been good in those games and so have we. It will be a great series."

Holliday knows Texas is a good team and a proud program. With players like centerfielder Mark Payton, who has been on base a national best streak of 81 games in a row and is hitting .342 with 27 RBI, and leftfielder Ben Johnson, who is hitting .292 and leads the team in stolen bases and home runs with five, the Longhorns will be resolute after being swept by TCU and scoring just one run last weekend in front of their home fans.

"They have tremendous pitching and Payton is a candidate for National Player of the Year," Holliday added. "Look at what he has done with his on-base streak and you could say he has been struggling some but he is still hitting .342 and he is a catalyst for what they do offensively. That pitching is fantastic and they are very good in front of their crowd in Austin."

The Cowboys are coming off a miserable 15-8 midweek loss in Tulsa against Oral Roberts on Tuesday. Second baseman Tim Arakawa, the hero in last weekend's sweep of KU with two big home runs, and middle-to-late innings eater Vince Wheeland on the mound, say the Cowboys will bounce back.

They are looking forward to playing at Texas in a huge series.

"I love going on the road with this team and I've never played in Austin," said Arakawa. "We know it is important and we've shown we like playing in situations like this."

"I'd do anything for these guys," said Wheeland. "I don't care about credit and neither do the other guys on this team. We are about winning and we need to keep doing what we have been the last two weeks. Everything is coming together for us, pitching, defense, and offense."

Oklahoma State and Texas will meet at 7 p.m. on Friday, 1 p.m. on Saturday, and 3 p.m. on Sunday. A bonus for both teams is the NCAA selection committee members will be able to see the games on the Longhorn Network.

Below is a look at the starting pitching match-ups for the weekend.

Friday night
OSU-Jon Perrin, rhp, 5-2, 2.11 ERA, won two in a row and a complete game shutout of Kansas last Friday,
Texas-Parker French, rhp, 4-3, 2.27 ERA, lost a 3-0 decision vs. TCU last Friday.

Saturday afternoon
OSU-Tyler Buffet, rhp, 2-1, 1.85 ERA, no decision last Saturday vs. Kansas,
Texas-Dillon Peters, lhp, 5-3, 2.70 ERA, lost a 2-0 game to TCU last Saturday.

Sunday afternoon
Texas-Nathan Thornhill, rhp, 6-1, 0.97 ERA, lost a 3-1 game last Sunday vs. TCU.

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