The Big-12 did not fare well in the first round of the NCAA Baseball tournament. Six teams entered the arena, maybe one will still be alive after this evening. Texas A&M will meet Houston this evening in an elimination game. Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Oklahoma State and Nebraska saw their seasons end yesterday.
The early exits by Oklahoma State and Nebraska are surprising. I thought Nebraska was given the second toughest bracket, however as the games were in Lincoln I favored the Huskers. Nebraska took down Eastern Illinois 13-10 on Friday, but were knocked into the losers bracket on Saturday by eventual bracket champion UC – Irvine by a score of 3-2. Nebraska was paired up against a very good Oral Roberts team on Sunday morning and went down quietly 8-0. This was a disappointing end to Nebraska’s great season. The Huskers were a much better team this year than I had expected them to be.
Oklahoma State was dealt a huge blow on Friday when their staff ace Andrew Oliver was declared ineligible before he pitched in the tournament. The scuttlebutt on the internet regarding this story has to do with agent contact. Without Oliver the Cowboys knew they had their backs to the wall. They defeated Western Kentucky and TCU but lost both match-ups against perhaps their biggest non-conference rival Wichita State. The final elimination game was not decided until the 10th inning. That had to be a crazy scene in Stillwater. Oklahoma State achieved more this year than I had expected and there is absolutely no shame in being ousted by a team as accomplished as the Shockers, especially given the circumstances.
Texas entered the tournament as a two seed and was shipped to the home field of probably their biggest non-conference rival, the Rice Owls. The Longhorns did what was expected of them. They fought their way into the final game before going down to Rice 7-4. Texas had a very up and down season. In the final accounting their performance this year slightly leans towards the negative. The Longhorns did achieve some notable accomplishments this weekend. Their 4-3 victory over St. Johns in the early game on Sunday was the 3,000 win in school history. Only Texas and Fordham have reached that level in college competition. In the game Kyle Russell hit his 18th homerun of the season making him Texas career leader in the category. He hit one more in the nightcap and to rise his total to 57. After Russell’s atrocious start to the season he was red hot during the final month. He finished 2008 with a line of .296/.432/.655 with 19 home runs and 56 RBI’s. Look for him to go early in the draft.
Oklahoma made a surprising run by eliminating pre-season favorite Vanderbilt on Sunday. Arizona State finally ended their season with a 12-0 shutout late Sunday.
Missouri went 1-2 in the tournament. Aaron Crow pitched a shutout on Friday before the Tigers dropped their next two games.
A few days ago I published a story regarding what I see as a pro-SEC bias in college baseball. The article attracted a good deal of attention in other blogs. The Big-12’s performance takes the edge off my argument, however; the SEC performed as poorly as I expected they would. Of the nine SEC teams invited only LSU has advanced to round two. Georgia might join LSU if they get past Georgia Tech this evening. The big winners so far are the ACC, Pac-10 and C-USA.