By Wendell Barnhouse | firstname.lastname@example.org
Big 12 Conference athletic directors decided Tuesday morning to play the Phillips 66 Big 12 Baseball Championship. The format has been altered and play will start on Thursday instead of Wednesday.
The athletic directors met by conference call to discuss options following the devastating tornado that hit Moore, Okla., Monday afternoon. Three options were considered: Move forward with the schedule as is, alter the schedule/format or cancel the event.
"We debated canceling the tournament in deference to the devastating tragedy in Moore but were encouraged by Oklahoma City leaders and the Oklahoma City All-Sports Association to go forward," said Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby. "We believe the tournament can serve as a testament to the strong Oklahoma spirit and to the resiliency of the Oklahoma people."
Oklahoma City mayor Mick Cornett said, "We are very appreciative of the consideration by the participating teams and the Big 12 Conference. We encouraged and supported the decision to play the championship in a format comfortable to the Big 12."
The format, which has previously been used by the Big 12, will feature two pools. K-State, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Baylor will play in one pool with Oklahoma State, West Virginia, TCU and Kansas in the second pool. Each team will be guaranteed three games and the team with the best record in each pool will advance to the championship game on Sunday.
The format will feature games at 9 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 4 p.m., and 7 p.m., CT on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The championship game will be at 1 p.m., CT on Sunday.
The Big 12 Championship determines the Conference's automatic qualifier for the NCAA tournament. The NCAA requires that the automatic bid be determined by midnight Sunday.
Tim Brassfield, executive director and CEO of the Oklahoma City All Sports Association, the host agency for the event, said that his organization reached out with Oklahoma City officials and there was unanimous agreement that playing the games would help the area return to normalcy.
"We certainly wanted to be sensitive to all the people affected by this tragedy," Brassfield said. "But the overwhelming opinion of all the officials we talked with was that it would help with the healing, to try to get back to normal. And in the end, we were going to do whatever the Big 12 decided to do."
Emergency services management said that staging the tournament in Oklahoma City would have no impact on the relief effort that is ongoing in Moore, which is about 15 minutes south of OKC.
Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby contacted Oklahoma president David Boren, a former governor of the state. Boren agreed with the decision to play the games.
Oklahoma State coach Josh Holliday and Oklahoma coach Sunny Golloway spoke during the kickoff luncheon Tuesday.
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims," said Golloway. In our coaches' meeting, everyone was unanimous that baseball takes a back seat to what's going on in our state. The coaches were in agreement with the decision to go forward.
"On a personal note, we've had some of our athletic department staff members affected. Oklahoma is strong and will recover from this. I talked with one of the first responders on the way here this morning and the last thing he said was, 'Good luck this weekend, we're pulling for you.' He thought we were playing."
West Virginia closed its season at Oklahoma State Saturday and then bussed to Oklahoma City Sunday. After witnessing the coverage of the destruction, coach Randy Mazey and his team went to a local Wal-Mart Monday night to purchase clothes and supplies to donate to the victims.
"Baseball is trivial," Mazey said with tears in his eyes during an interview Tuesday. "We just feel so bad for all these people here. We ran into a lady shopping with her children … her house had been destroyed and they had lost everything.
"It doesn't matter if we win or lose games, our kids are benefitting from trying to help."
Team By Team Capsules
No. 1 Kansas State
Record: 39-16 overall, 6-8 in Big 12.
Last 10 games: 8-2.
Coach: Brad Hill.
Top hitters: Jr. IF Ross Kivett (.359, 30 RBI, 26 SB), Jr. OF Jared King (.342, 46 RBI, 6 HR), Soph. IF Austin Fisher (.358, 18 2B, 34 RBI), Soph. IF Shane Conlon (.340, 7 HR, 27 RBI).
Top pitchers: Fr. RHP Jake Matthys (8-0, 2.01 ERA, 6 saves); Soph. RHP Matt Wivinis (6-2, 5.01 ERA), Fr. RHP Blake McFadden (5-2, 3.93 ERA).
Extra bases: Kansas State led the Big 12 in hitting with a .324 batting average. … The Wildcats had 10 or more hits in 38 games. … K-State led the Big 12 in triples with 28 and was second in doubles with 96. … The Wildcats were third in the Conference in fielding percentage. … Ross Kivett has 63 singles, which is tied for third-most in school history. … This season's Big 12 championship was the school's first conference baseball title since 1933. … K-State was picked to finish seventh in the coaches' preseason poll.
No. 2 Oklahoma State
Record: 39-14 overall, 13-10 in Big 12.
Last 10 games: 7-3.
Coach: Josh Holliday.
Top hitters: Soph. IF Zach Fish (.287, 16 2B, 7 HR, 40 RBI), Soph. OF/C Gage Green (.294, 13 SB), Jr. IF Tanner Krietemeier (.329, 4 HR, 41 RBI), Sr. IF/P Randy McCurry (.321, 20 2B, 35 RBI).
Top pitchers: Soph. RHP Jason Hursh (6-4, 2.78 ERA), Soph. LHP Tyler Nurdin (4-2, 1.76), Jr. RHP Brendan McCurry (6-2, 1.52 ERA, 8 saves), Jr. RHP Vince Wheeland (8-1, 1.79 ERA).
Extra bases: The Cowboys have won 14 of its last 18. … Oklahoma State is second in the Big 12 in hitting (.289) and is third in pitching with a 2.79 ERA. … The Cowboys lead the Big 12 with 111 doubles. … Shortstop Randy McCurry is hitting .321 and also has a 2-1 record with a save and a 2.16 ERA. … Last season, opponents stole over twice as many bases (77) as the Cowboys (38). This season, Oklahoma State has 73 steals and has allowed just 37.
No. 3 West Virginia
Record: 31-25 overall, 13-11 in Big 12.
Last 10 games: 4-6.
Coach: Randy Mazey.
Top hitters: Jr. 1B Ryan McBroom (.272, 17 2B, 11 HR, 43 RBI), Jr. 3B Ryan Tuntland (.303, 30 RBI), Jr. OF Jacob Rice (.324, 13 2B, 27 RBI), Jr. DH Matt Frazer (.266, 13 2B, 37 RBI).
Top pitchers: Soph. LHP Harrison Musgrave (8-1, 2.14 ERA), Jr. RHP Pascal Paul (3-3, 2.76 ERA, 8 saves), Sr. RHP Dan Dierdorff (4-7, 5.23 ERA), Soph. LHP John Means (4-4, 3.64 ERA).
Extra bases: West Virginia surpassed 30 victories in a season for the first time since 2009 and for just the 13th time in school history. … Sophomore Harrison Musgrave, the Big 12 pitcher of the year, had a scoreless streak of 27.1 innings that stretched over four games vs. Liberty, Texas, Kansas and Oklahoma. … Opponents are just 30 of 41 in stolen base attempts and West Virginia has picked off 26 runners (23 by pitchers, three by catchers.
No. 4 Oklahoma
Record: 36-19 overall, 13-11 in Big 12.
Last 10 games: 3-7.
Coach: Sunny Golloway.
Top hitters: Jr. IF Matt Oberste (.389, 10 HR, 51 RBI), Sr. OF Max White (.299, 10 2B, 27 RBI), Fr. OF Craig Aikin (.288, 14 SB), Sr. IF Jack Mayfield (.257, 7 HR, 32 RBI).
Top pitchers: Jr. RHP Johnathan Gray (8-2, 1.69 ERA, Jr. LHP Dillon Overton (8-2, 3.08 ERA), Fr. LHP Jacob Evans (6-2, 1.38 ERA, 9 saves), Fr. LHP Adam Choplick (3-3, 5.74 ERA).
Extra bases: Matt Oberste led the Big 12 in total bases, in RBI with 51 and was second in doubles and home runs. … Oberste set a school record with a 30-game game hitting streak. … Pitcher Johnathan Gray passed the 100-strikeout milestone for the second straight season, becoming the sixth Sooner to do so in back-to-back years. … Among active players, Max White is the Big 12 career leader in games played, at-bats, hits, runs, home runs,, RBI, and total bases. … Oklahoma is one of just 16 programs to reach the NCAA Tournament in each of the past five seasons.
No. 5 Baylor
Record: 27-25 overall, 12-11 in Big 12.
Last 10 games: 5-5.
Coach: Steve Smith.
Top hitters: Sr. OF Nathan Orf (.380, 13 2B, 33 RBI), Sr. 3B Cal Towey (.302, 11 2B, 2 3B, 4 HR, 43 RBI), Sr. SS Jake Miller (.287, 12 2B, 29 RBI), Soph. OF Adam Toth, .(272, 18 SB).
Top pitchers: Sr. LHP Crayton Bare (6-2, 2.84 ERA, 5 saves), Jr. RHP Dillon Newman (3-3, 2.99 ERA), Soph. RHP Austin Stone (3-2, 3.58 ERA), Sr. RHP Max Garner (4-6, 4.19 ERA).
Extra bases: Baylor has had 12 or more wins in Big 12 play in all but two of 17 seasons. … Pitcher Dillon Newman had a streak of 40 innings and 164 batters without allowing a walk that ended in the final series of the season. … Adam Toth has reached base in a career-high 17 straight games, has a four-game hitting streak, had multiple hits in six of his last 10 games and has tied a career high with 18 stolen bases. … Jake Miller set a career with five RBI on Saturday at Texas Tech.
No. 6 Kansas
Record: 31-24 overall, 12-12 in Big 12.
Last 10 games: 4-6.
Coach: Ritch Price.
Top hitters: Sr. IF Alex DeLeon (.328, 17 2B, 10 HR, 45 RBI), Sr. IF Kevin Kuntz (.299, 26 sacrifice bunts), Soph. OF Michael Suiter (.308, 10 2B, 23 RBI, 17 SB), Sr. IF Jordan Dreiling (.276, 14 2B, 30 RBI, 16 SB).
Top pitchers: Sr. RHP Thomas Taylor (5-2, 2.35 ERA), Soph. LHP Wes Benjamin (4-6, 4.37 ERA), Jr. RHP Frank Duncan (3-4, 4.00 ERA), Jr. RHP Jordan Piche' (6-4, 1.85 ERA, 10 saves).
Extra bases: Following a six-game winning streak where it allowed a total of 16 runs, Kansas has lost six consecutive games allowing a total of 41 runs. … KU closed the regular season with a three-game series at Utah that concluded Monday. … The Jayhawks lead the Big 12 in stolen bases with 97 in a 122 attempts. It's the most steals for the team during the Ritch Price Era. … Kansas has played 20 one-run games, the second-most in school history. The Jayhawks are 11-9 in those games.
No. 7 TCU
Record: 28-26 overall, 12-12 in Big 12.
Last 10 games: 7-3.
Coach: Jim Schlossnagle.
Top hitters: Fr. C/OF Boomer White (.326, 13 2B, 26 RBI), Sr. IF Jantzen Witte (.276, 33 RBI), Soph. OF Cody Jones (.269, 13 SB), Jr. IF Paul Hendrix (.274, 10 2B, 29 RBI).
Top pitchers: Soph. RHP Preston Morrison (7-3, 1.22 ERA), Soph. LHP Brandon Finnegan (0-7, 2.90 ERA), Fr. LHP Alex Young (7-4, 2.09 ERA, 5 saves), Soph. RHP Trey Teakell (3-0, 0.91).
Extra bases: During a recent five-game winning streak, TCU scored 39 runs including a season high 16 in a victory at West Virgina. The Frogs averaged 4.4 runs per game. … TCU leads the big 12 in fielding percentage and is third in double plays. … In 24 Big 12 games, the Frogs led the Conference in ERA at 2.47. … Sophomore pitcher Brandon Finnegan has earned a roster spot on the 2013 USA Baseball Collegiate National Team that will be coached by TCU's Jim Schlossnagle.
No. 8 Texas Tech
Record: 25-28 overall, 9-15 in Big 12.
Last 10 games: 6-4.
Coach: Tim Tadlock.
Top hitters: Jr. IF Jake Barrios (.310, 4 3B 48 RBI, .454 slugging percentage), Fr. UTL Eric Gutierrez (.258, 10 2B, 6 HR, 27 RBI), Jr. OF Devon Conley (.290, 31 RBI), Fr. C Jarrard Poteete (.286, 24 RBI).
Top pitchers: Jr. RHP Trey Masek (5-1, 1.52), Jr. LHP Jonny Drozd (4-5, 3.69 ERA), Soph. RHP Dominic Moreno (3-3, 4.19), Fr. RHP Matt Withrow (4-3, 6.11).
Extra bases: In its final regular-season series, Texas Tech had 41 base hits in three games against Baylor, the most it had in any three-game stretch this season. … Eric Guiterrez homered in all three games. He's the first Red Raider to go deep in three consecutive games since 2007. … Brett Bell led the Big 12 in stolen bases with 31. … Kansas State, the Red Raiders' opponent in the opener, swept the season series that was played in early April. … Texas Tech has 4 active players with Big 12 Championship experience.