Photo: Steven Branscombe, USA TODAY Sports
The #10 Texas Longhorns host the #8 Oklahoma State Cowboys this weekend in a Top-10 matchup at Disch-Falk Field in a high-stakes series. Both teams need wins for postseason positioning down the stretch, but do the Longhorns have enough in the tank to take the series from Oklahoma State? Here are three things to watch for in the 'Horns vs. Pokes matchup.
1. Will Texas give Friday night starter Pete Hansen some run support?
Hansen hasn’t lost a game at the Disch all season and only one game overall. This will be arguably his biggest test of the season, but he is more than capable of matching the competition. Hansen is one of the best pitchers in the country and I expect to see more of that on Friday night. He hasn’t always had great run support this year, such as in his complete game win vs TCU in which the offense scored just two runs. The bats need to get started early for David Pierce's team to have success.
2. Which Tristan Stevens will we see?
Last season Stevens was solid all year and was a reliable starter. He was a one of the reasons Texas had the season they did last year. If they want to reach Omaha again, he will need to regain that form. He has won just one of his last five starts. Without Tanner Witt in the rotation, Stevens is arguably the biggest X factor on the team.
3. Will the bullpen continue to improve?
The Longhorns had a quality bullpen last year to compliment their starting pitching, which made them very tough to beat. With Lucas Gordon unexpectedly taking over the Sunday starter role, the bullpen is even more important this year. The bullpen has struggled much of the year but has started to look a better. Last year Aaron Nixon was lights-out and he has struggled this season, but he needs to get back to his rhythm if Texas is going to beat good teams such as Oklahoma State this weekend.