Texas Tech Bug Bites Sooners

Now the football team, men's basketball team and the baseball teams have something in common other than being a representative of OU: they all left Lubbock, Texas, in defeat.

The No. 18 Sooners (26-10, 6-7 Big 12) lost two games of a three-game series against the Texas Tech Red Raiders after winning the series opener. The series loss was OU's second during Big 12 play.

The Sooners won the first game 12-1 with junior pitcher Zach Neal (5-1, 4.08 ERA) having a lights-out performance, but Texas Tech jumped on OU's starters in the final two games to take the final two games 7-3 and 8-3.

Even though the series ended in a loss, there are two positive things the Sooners can take away from Lubbock.

First, Neal's start.

Neal has had four straight quality starts, and in those starts he is 3-1 with the only loss coming when the offense provided zero run support against the Texas Longhorns in the first game of that series.

The most encouraging thing about Neal's start is that he's just about proven he truly is this team's ace.

For the most part, he has overpowered his opponents and has forced weak contact. Even some of the singles and extra base hits Neal has given up have come off well-placed, softly hit pitches that all Neal could do was tip his cap to the hitter.

It's not to say junior pitcher Bobby Shore has not pitched well over the past few weeks, even though he was touched up for seven runs in 4 2/3 innings in his start against the Red Raiders, but Neal has shown in both dominance and outing longevity that he is this team's true No. 1 starter.

The other good thing is that sophomore third baseman Garrett Buechele seems to be producing at the plate during conference play after struggling during the first couple Big 12 series with a .250 batting average.

Buechele went 7-13 with two doubles and three RBIs against Texas Tech, raising his Big 12 batting average to .342.

Buechele's only negative stats during conference play is that he is not hitting homers and driving in runs. He has one home run and six RBIs in 10 Big 12 games this year, which is significantly off pace from the stats he posted last year to earn him the honor of Big 12 Freshman of the Year.

Last year he launched three homers and drove in 16 runs.

Now the Sooners will try to right the ship at 7 tonight at L. Dale Mitchell Park against the Texas Christian Horned Frogs (27-7). OU won the last meeting between these two teams 4-2 two weeks ago.

Freshman pitcher Ryan Gibson will start for the Sooners. He has a 3-2 record and 4.88 ERA with 22 strikeouts in 24 innings of work.


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