It’s been 744 days since the Oklahoma State baseball team beat Texas Tech.
That victory came in the opening game of the 2017 Big 12 Conference Tournament when No. 8-seeded OSU knocked off top-seeded Texas Tech en route to winning the championship three days later.
It was an improbable victory for the Cowboys, who needed to win the tournament to earn a postseason berth. They won 3 of 4 against Texas Tech that season.
Fast forward more than two years, and the Red Raiders (42-17) have won the past seven contests against OSU. They have outscored OSU 63-23 in those games.
Now, the Cowboys must win two of three games at Rip Griffin Park in Lubbock, Texas, to keep their season alive and earn a College World Series berth.
“I’m pumped,” OSU senior catcher Colin Simpson said. “We’ve got this thing going on in the locker room – it’s hard to beat someone five times. They’ve beat us three times. … They’re a really good team and we’ll have a strong plan together to attack them. It should be a very fun and exciting series.”
OSU (39-19) was swept in Lubbock in late April. Since those three losses, OSU has won 14 of 17 games. OSU coach Josh Holliday said his team turned its season around following the frustrating losses.
“Well, you know, we were playing pretty decent before we came out here, and we got out here and these guys played great,” Holliday said. “They played great. Day after day, we ran head-to-head with them and they played great baseball against us, and they had a great comeback on Sunday where we were ahead I think into the sixth or seventh inning, and they had a couple kids get some big clutch hits, and it was just good baseball.
“Definitely a turning point for sure because any time you get beat, you've got to see what your response is, and if your response is correct, you have a chance to move forward, and if your response is not positive, then yeah, you could find yourself going the wrong direction. So our kids just responded well to being challenged.”
The OSU-TTU matchup is one of three Super Regionals to pit two conference foes against each other. Both Big 12 coaches discussed playing a familiar opponent this late in the season for a spot in the CWS.
“It sounds to me that the NCAA committee seeded the teams that were on the board 1-16 and didn’t pay any real geographic consideration to it, but rather just ranked the teams in order,” Holliday said. “So, that’s how we fell with Tech and that’s our draw. I suppose there is familiarity with this trip. We made it five or six weeks ago. From that standpoint, it’s a good thing. We know what we’re getting into, where we’re going and we know we’re playing a really good team.
“… We would have taken this opportunity had you told us back at the start of the fall that you’re going to get a chance to go back to Lubbock, Texas, for a second trip and play for a trip to the World Series. Are you gonna take it? The answer is yeah, we’re gonna take it, we’re going to go compete our tails off and embrace the opportunity. From that standpoint, that’s the only way you can look at it.”
TTU coach Tim Tadlock also didn’t seem bothered by facing a conference foe this weekend.
“Well, the good thing is he and I get to sit in the dugout, and it's really up to the kids,” Tadlock said. “I think the kids are excited about the competition. He said it in his opening statement; we're both fortunate. We don't take it for granted that we're playing this weekend, and probably at this point you need to play good baseball, you've got to go earn the right to win whoever you're playing.”
Tadlock announced he will have Micah Dallas (6-0, 3.36 earned run average) on the mound for Friday’s opener, which begins at 2 p.m. on ESPN2. Dallas threw 5 1/3 innings in the series opener in April and allowed nine hits and four runs.
The Cowboys haven’t announced their starter, but it’s likely Jensen Elliott (10-3, 3.33 ERA) who faced Dallas in that April 26 matchup. Elliott lasted only two innings, allowing five hits and seven runs in the loss. It was his shortest outing of the season.