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Week Four Series Preview: vs. The Okie State Pistol Petes

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You’re going to have to spend the $6 on ESPN+ for the month for this one. Luckily, Rocker, Leiter, and Schultz are appointment viewing.

NCAA Basketball: Kansas State at Oklahoma State Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports

Week Four (3/12-3/14): at. Okie State

Friday @ 6:00pm CT on ESPN+

Saturday @ 6:00pm CT on ESPN+

Sunday @ 1:00pm CT on ESPN+

To say they’re our toughest competition to date would be one hell of an understatement. Beyond that, we’re on the road for the first time all year, missing our middle of the order thumper Dom Keegan (Covid), and will be without our closer Luke Murphy (also Covid).

The good news is our weekend rotation is finally back in order after the opening week snowstorm messed everything up. We’ll need the A game from Rocker, Leiter, and Schultz, respectively, this weekend.

2020 Record: 13-5. Former Vanderbilt assistant coach Josh Holliday’s Pokes squad opened their 2020 season in an ignominious fashion—dropping 2 of 3 to the Grand Canyon University Fightin’ Online Bryce Drews. The also dropped contests to UCLA (understandable), Illinois (less understandable), and Mizzourah State (spits). On the plus side, they did beat Arizona State and fellow Big XII foe aTm.

2021 Record: 10-0-1. Though the Pokes have yet to play anyone (they did beat the Oral Roberts team who took 2 of 3 from LSU, but it was a midweek game, which mitigates things a bit, as they’re not facing ORU’s top pitchers), wins are wins, and the baseball writers agree. D1Baseball has them at #13 (of course, they have us at #2); Baseball America has them at #19 (us at #3); and the USA Today Coaches’ Poll has them way up at #9 (us at #2).

Player to Watch: I’d watch out for the prodigious power bat of #24 So. 3B Christian “The Hyphen” Encarnacion-Strand (.289/.347/.689). The sophomore hot cornerman has 5 HR 3 2B and 13 RBI through 11 games.

Though he has been on a cold streak to start the 2021 season (.200/.314/.333), I’d also keep an eye on #7 Sr. INF/C Max “Packard” Hewitt. The Connors State Juco transfer took advantage of the extra year of eligibility, and will likely be getting a graduate degree in animal husbandry or some such Okie State major. He’s from Ontario, CA, so he has already likely apologized for this. In 2020, he slashed .410/.479/.525 with 5 2Bs and a 3B.

Anchor of Gold Tiger Beat Hottest Player: #17 Jr. INF Jake “Homer” Thompson (.364/.522/.606). Thompson, formerly of Terror Lake, has moved to Stillwater, OK after his Witness Protection cover was blown. He wanted to go to Ice-Creamville, but decided on Stillwater after the agent informed him the town’s name was actually “Screamville.”

Confidence Level: Relatively high. Normally, when Okie State has a good team, it’s on the backs of their power bats. This year, their offense is putting up near fellow Big XII team Missourah Tigers (spits) numbers. The entire team has only one regular (Homer Thompson of Terror Lake) hitting north of .300. As a whole, the Okies are slashing .242/.356/.453 with 25 2B, 2 3B, and 16 HR through 11 games (that’s bad!), though their pitchers are holding opponents to .227/.322/.304 with 15 2B, 2 3B, and 3 HR through 11 games (that’s good!).

For comparison’s sake, the Dores have slashed .332/.444/.570 with 30 2B, 6 3B, and 16 HR through 11 games (that’s good!), and our pitchers are holding opponents to .173/.274/.249 with 14 2B, 0 3B, and 4 HR through 11 games (that’s also good!).

Keep in mind the red hot bat of Dominic Keegan will be out of our lineup. We should still be favored in the series, but it will not be easy.

On the Mound

Friday @ 6:00pm CT on ESPN+

#80 Vanderbilt Jr. RHP Kumar “White Castle” Rocker (3-0; 0.00 ERA)

vs. #6 Oklahoma State Jr. LHP Parker “Scott Parker” Scott (3-0; 1.06 ERA)

Saturday @ 6:00pm CT on ESPN+

#22 Vanderbilt So. RHP Jack “Leits Out” Leiter (3-0; 0.60 ERA)

vs. #32 Oklahoma State So. LHP Justin “Wrobble Wrobble” Wrobleski (1-0; 0.69 ERA)

Sunday @ 1:00pm CT on ESPN+

#66 Vanderbilt So. RHP Thomas “The Mayor” Schultz (1-1; 1.74 ERA)

vs. #3 Oklahoma State Fr. RHP Bryce “A Little Bit Country” Osmond (1-0; 3.21 ERA)

*Will update when lineups are posted.

See you in the comments.