MY THOUGHTS ABOUT THIS WEEK:
It was another humdinger of a weekend for the good guys! The Red Raiders secured their second conference sweep in a row and their first road sweep of the season over the Sooners of Oklahoma in Norman. While pitching and strikeouts were the storylines of the Oklahoma State series, it was offensive production that headlined the sweep in Norman. The Red Raiders combined for 17 extra base hits on the weekend including 13 doubles (7 on Sunday alone), 1 triple, and 3 dingers. Senior first baseman Cameron Warren was named Big 12 Player of the Week for the second time this season. Warren led the conference in hitting, slugging, and on-base percentage for the week. He hit .583 in his home state with four of his seven hits on the weekend going for extra bases. He is the current Big 12 RBI leader with 60, slightly ahead of the pace set by Josh Jung in his 2018 All-American season.
Friday night the Red Raiders found themselves trailing 6-3 to the Sooners and Cameron Warren hit a dong in back-to-back innings to lead the rally for Texas Tech’s 10-6 victory. He finished the night 4-4, 4R, 4RBI, 2B, 2HR, BB. Josh Jung also had a big evening going 3-4, 4R, 2 2B, BB. On Saturday the game remained scoreless until the Sooners took a 2-0 lead into the 6th. Tech answered with one in the 6th on a Cole Stillwell RBI walk and then poured it on in the 7th with a Gabe Holt single, Brian Klein 2 RBI double, and a Josh Jung 2-run jimmy jack. An RBI double from Gabe Holt in the 8th and an unearned run in the 9th gave Tech the 7-3 victory. On Sunday the Sooners rallied late but the Red Raider lead proved too strong as they won 8-4. Gabe Holt reached base five out of six at-bats going 3-4, 2R, 2B, BB, HBP, SB and Josh Jung went 4-5, 1R, 2RBI, 3 2B. Brian Klein and Cody Masters both also notched multi-hit, multi-RBI games as well.
The Red Raiders also split a two-game midweek with UTRGV, they dropped the Tuesday game 6-3 but rallied after giving up a 9 run 2nd inning on Wednesday with 19 unanswered runs to win 19-11. Tech has pushed back into the top 10 in RPI and things look favorable for them from here on out. They’ll face FIU in a doubleheader on Tuesday, May 7 and then will be off for the finals break until hosting TCU in their regular season finale the weekend of May 16-18. The Red Raiders only trail Baylor by 1/2 a game in the Big 12 after the Bears dropped their Sunday match against Kansas State in Waco 10-3. Texas Tech will need the sweep over TCU to put themselves in the best position to win the conference. Baylor will finish their season on the road against the Pokes in Stillwater, if they drop one of those road games Texas Tech can win the conference.
Oklahoma State went on the road this weekend and swept the Oregon State Beavers in Corvallis. That’s a huge road victory for the Cowboys and a strength of schedule boost for the Red Raiders who swept Xerox U themselves two weeks ago. The Michigan Wolverines, one of Tech’s two Top 25 sweeps this season, have swept three series in a row, at home against Northwestern and Rutgers and on the road over Maryland. A strong late season showing by the Wolverines also boosts the Red Raiders’ resume, particularly road victories to finish the season over Nebraska, who Tech dropped a game to in Frisco. The Oregon Ducks can also help build Tech’s resume, they have home series remaining with #12 Oregon State and #1UCLA, the Ducks have lost 10 of their last 12 but did beat the Beavers in a one-game midweek on April 9th. The Red Raiders took two of three from the Ducks to open the season in Lubbock.
All of this is to say that every little boost to Tech’s resume, strength of schedule, and RPI are important at this point. We are 20 days from selection Monday and the Red Raiders have a resume for a Top 8 National Seed if they take care of business in their final five games. They are 15-6 against RPI Top 25 teams and 27-12 against RPI Top 100, 33-14 on the season, 14-7 in Big 12 play, and can grab more Top 100 wins over TCU. The Oklahoma State sweep of Oregon State is also significant in that it dropped their RPI to 23, the Beavers have also dropped a two-game midweek at #128 Nevada, and a midweek at home to #74 Gonzaga. Their slippage as a projected #6 national seed will be huge for the Red Raiders to slide up into the Top 8.
A few things about the rankings:
DO THEY ALL MATTER?
No, absolutely not, most of them are worthless and only exist because a baseball/statistics nerd decided to make them. Some are an attempt by various outlets to keep RPI live rather than updated weekly by the NCAA. Many are wholly subjective in the case of those from various news outlets or composites of many rankings affected by outliers. Some also update at odd times, like on Friday.
DOES THAT MEAN I WON’T INCLUDE THEM?
Also, absolutely not. I’m going to include every ranking, RPI, composite, and strength of schedule I can find. It doesn’t matter how “legit” they are, I’m going to put them on the list. I like seeing them change and move fluidly over time. It’s also nice to see that even some of the top recognized lists are subject to knee-jerk reactions.
WHY INCLUDE IT IF IT DOESN’T MATTER?
Because we count everything in baseball.