Baseball: Horns one win from Big 12 championship

One win. It's now as simple as that.

Although Texas (39-13 overall) didn't take the field at all this weekend, its path to a first-ever Big 12 baseball title came into clear focus with the results from around the league. Going into the weekend, seven teams still had a shot at the '02 conference championship. That number is down to six -- UT (16-8), Nebraska (16-11), Baylor (13-10), A&M (13-11), Tech (13-11) and OU (13-11) -- after the Ags' series win over Oklahoma State in Stillwater. By losing one to the Cowboys (12-11), though, A&M now needs help to win the league title, leaving the Horns as the only team completely in control of its own destiny.

A single victory by Texas over the Ags in this coming weekend's three-game series will clinch the outright title for the Horns. UT's best Big 12 finish in the league's previous five years of competition was a third-place mark last spring. One win either in Austin on Friday night or on Saturday night or Sunday afternoon in College Station (or this Tuesday vs. Rice in Houston) would also push the Horns over the 40-win mark during the regular season for the first time in Augie Garrido's six seasons on the Forty Acres. UT's '00 College World Series qualifier finished the season with 46 wins after a 39-win regular season. Texas could also equal its highest league-win total (19), despite a three game shorter schedule, with a sweep of A&M.

Priority No. 1 for the Horns, though, is securing the regular season title.

Baylor is the only team aside from Texas with a shot at an outright title. The Bears could earn the conference crown with a weekend sweep of Tech in Lubbock combined with an Aggie sweep of the Horns. The Huskers, Ags, Red Raiders and Sooners can only hope for a share of the title. Three A&M wins over Texas combined with at least one Baylor loss to Tech would set up a three-way tie at the top of the final standings at 16-11 between the Ags, Cornhuskers and Horns, with the possibility that two other teams could join the bunch. A Raider sweep of the Bears would add Tech to the title group and an OU sweep of OSU in Tulsa and Oklahoma City would do the same for the Sooners.

With so many teams still in contention, the final standings uncertainty will last until Sunday. Texas, though, hopes the top spot is settled on Friday night after the Horns and the Ags square off at the Disch.

Notes: Texas moved up one spot to No. 8 in the latest Baseball America poll but dropped two notches to No. 9 in the Collegiate Baseball rankings released Monday. The Horns are still in a relatively strong position to receive one of 16 NCAA Tournament subregional hosting spots and, depending on the outcome of the final four regular season games and the Big 12 Tourney in Arlington next week, Texas could also snag an overall top eight seed, which could mean a subregional and superregional at the Disch. . . . The playing status of UT second baseman and leading hitter Tim Moss is still unknown. Moss was arrested last week and charged with assault causing bodily injury and evading arrest. Garrido issued the following statement last Friday after Moss's early Thursday morning arrest: "Tim is a fine person as well as student-athlete. We have been made aware of the situation that occurred the other night and are now gathering as much information as we can. With this being a legal situation, we obviously cannot comment on it. Discipline to us is a team matter and we will handle it within our team."

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