AUSTIN (KXAN) — Texas baseball leads the nation in a dubious category that sums up just how difficult this season has been for the Longhorns and head coach David Pierce.
Texas has been walked off five times this year— more than any other Division 1 college baseball team in the country. The frustrating stat shows just how a team that spent time in the top 10 of the national polls is fighting for its life at the end of the regular season.
On March 31, No. 12 Texas completed a three-game sweep of Xavier for a 20-11 overall record and readied itself for the stretch run of conference expecting to compete for another Big 12 regular season title. From that point forward, the Longhorns are 6-14 losing in the opponent’s final at-bat four times. Add in two more loses during that span where Texas gave up a tie/lead in the top of the ninth inning and it explains how the Longhorns are in ninth place, dead-last, in the conference standings.
To reach next week’s Big 12 Tournament next week in Oklahoma City, Texas needs to move up to at least eighth in the standings, which is still mathematically possible, but it requires solid results against rival Oklahoma this weekend in Austin.
Texas must win at least two out of its three games in the series against the Sooners and more than likely will need a sweep.
“As ugly as the last month and a half has been, we’re still playing the last weekend and it means something. OU-Texas– it’s the best rivalry in college athletics,” Pierce said.
Oklahoma comes to UFCU Disch-Falk Field with more to play for than just ruining Texas’ season. If the Longhorns were to sweep, Oklahoma could fall to last place in the standings and miss out on tournament play. A Texas sweep could be enough to move the Longhorns as high as seventh place in the conference.
If Texas wins two out of three games, they would need help from Kansas. The Jayhawks would need to sweep Kansas State in its three-game series in Lawrence. In that scenario, the Longhorns would finish eighth and Kansas State would be the odd team out for the tourney.
“It comes down to one series. Playing quality baseball and doing whatever it takes, within the rules, to win the game. Utilize all personnel in just about any situation is what it basically comes down to,” Pierce said.
Any other result for Texas this weekend spells the end of the season. The Longhorns would miss the NCAA Tournament for only the sixth time in 40 years, but it would be the fourth miss in the last decade.