This is a huge weekend for the No. 14 OU baseball team and the Oklahoma State Cowboys.
The Sooners (33-12, 10-9 Big 12) are still fighting Kansas State and Texas Tech for second place in the conference standings, OU is fourth, and the Cowboys (26-18, 7-11 Big 12) are fighting to make the Big 12 Tournament at Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City later this month.
If OU wants to have a shot at that No. 2 seed, then it's most likely going to have to sweep Oklahoma State this weekend. That is a hard task for many reasons.
You know the Cowboys, who hold the eighth and final seed for the Big 12 Tournament – aren't going to go down without a fight. They have always played the Sooners tough – 30 of the last 43 games have been decided by three or less runs – and currently have a psychological edge over the Sooners.
Oklahoma State has won two straight games against OU. It won the series finale last season to avoid being swept and won a midweek game earlier this season in Stillwater marking the first Bedlam game since 1996 to be played on either team's home field.
That 7-6 extra-innings loss has stayed with the team and has left a bitter taste in the players' mouths, sophomore third baseman Garrett Buechele said. But that bitter taste should not linger for much longer.
The Sooners' offense has been on a tear in its last six games. OU has scored 76 runs while allowing its opponents to plate at least six runs just twice during that six-game period.
If the offense struggles to score runs in the series, then head coach Sunny Golloway should feel comfortable with whom he's sending to the mound.
Junior pitchers Zach Neal and Bobby Shore are making their regular Friday and Saturday starts, and senior pitcher J.R. Robinson will start Sunday. This weekend will be Robinson's third consecutive where he'll be in the starting rotation, and he started against the Cowboys earlier this season.
He gave up five runs (one earned) in 5 1/3 innings against Oklahoma State and did not earn a decision in the game.
There shouldn't be any doubt that Neal won't have a good start because he's been lights out since the beginning of conference play. His control has been almost pin point and even though his strikeout numbers have gone down in his last few games, he has forced weak contact for easy outs.
Shore has struggled in his past couple starts, and the team is looking for him to get out of his funk this weekend.
The first game of the series will be at 7:35 tonight in Tulsa, and the final two games of the series will be 7:05 p.m. Saturday and 4:05 p.m. Sunday in Oklahoma City.