Texas Baseball: Are the Longhorns in play to host a regional?

David Pierce, Texas baseball
David Pierce, Texas baseball /

What has been a whirlwind of a season for Texas baseball has culminated in a weekend of incredible highs followed by an apathetic loss to open the Big 12 Tournament.

The Horns went into last weekend’s series knowing they needed to sweep the then No. 6 ranked West Virginia Mountaineers to even have a chance to claim a share of the 2023 Big 12 Regular Season title. Texas emphatically dispatched the Mountaineers in three consecutive games by a combined run margin of 29-9 and raised the Big 12 Regular Season Champion trophy on Saturday afternoon on Disch-Falk Field.

The weekend sweep of West Virginia moved Texas into D1Baseball’s final host spot in their May 22nd “Field of 64 Projections.”

Unfortunately, that was very short-lived as the Longhorns dropped their first game of the Big 12 tournament 6-3 to No. 8 seed Kansas on Wednesday. Texas was not badly outplayed, but a two-out grand slam in the seventh by the Jayhawks’ Janson Reeder proved to be the difference. The loss dropped the Longhorns’ RPI to 26.

What does David Pierce and Texas baseball have to do to get back into regional hosting position?

Similarly to the March Madness tournament bracket, nothing in college baseball is guaranteed. There is no magic win number Texas has to eclipse this week in Arlington to put themselves in a hosting position.

Texas should start by beating Kansas State on Thursday morning. The fifth-seeded Wildcats are coming off a 16-3 loss at the hands of TCU. The Horned Frogs outhit the Wildcats 17-3 and controlled the game from the first pitch.

The Longhorns won two of their three meetings against Kansas State six weeks ago in Austin. Despite their rough showing in the opening round of the Big 12 Tournament, expect the Wildcats to enter this battle energized and ready to solidify their spot in the field of 64. Texas must match that energy and keep their Big 12 Tournament hopes alive if we want to talk about potentially hosting a regional.

If Texas were to beat the Wildcats tomorrow, that would set up a Friday meeting against the loser of TCU/Kansas. This is another must-win if Texas wants to be considered for a regional host position. I would be cautiously optimistic going into this matchup regardless of the opponent. Texas has the superior pitching depth and should like its chances in a rematch against Kansas or against a TCU team it took two games from earlier this year in Fort Worth.

From there, it would take two wins on Saturday (over whichever team is left between TCU and Kansas) to make the Big 12 Tournament Championship Game on Sunday. This would ask the Longhorns to win four consecutive games in three days. While not impossible, it is not the likely scenario.

Like any bracket selection process, what happens around the country also matters for Texas. Longhorn fans will want to be rooting against teams like Auburn, Campbell, East Carolina, Dallas Baptist, Oklahoma State, Southern Miss, and West Virginia in their respective conference tournaments.

Texas baseball and its fans should take games in Arlington as they come with the sole goal of stacking wins and boosting their RPI.

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If the Longhorns do not win their next two games, I would be hard-pressed to imagine they find themselves as a regional host site this year. If, however, they move into Saturday play in Alington, the margin becomes very thin. If I had to guess, wins on Thursday and Friday move Texas back into hosting position, and an appearance in the Big 12 Championship Game on Sunday guarantees it.

Texas Baseball is looking to host a regional in Austin for the fourth time in the last five tournaments.