"No matter how good you are, you're going to lose one-third of your games. No matter how bad you are, you're going to win one-third of your games. It's the other third that makes the difference."
― Tommy Lasorda
I don't know who this "Lasorda" guy is, but forget him! We're going undefeated! That's right, Baylor Baseball may never lose again... Well, okay, we will (and it's true... probably at least a third of our games), but 3 and 0 is a pretty good way to start. Our series with Oral Roberts couldn't have gone any better, as we defeated them 3-2 on Friday night and 3-2, 8-1 in our Sunday doubleheader. Quality pitching and timely hitting were the keys to our success, and they will continue to be throughout the season. I'll have some thoughts on our team after the jump, but first, some details about the weekend.
In Game One, Bears starter Josh Turley went 4.2 innings, giving up 5 hits, 1 walk, and 2 runs while striking out 2. The runs were unearned because of throwing error by 1b Max Muncy (who totally redeemed himself in the batter's box). It was a strong start, and hopefully, one that Turley can build on. Turley was relieved (very well) by Trent Blank, who didn't allow a run in 3.1 innings, and Dillon Newman, who closed the game with a perfect one-two-three inning, including 2 strikeouts.
On the offensive side, Muncy had a typically productive game going 2-2 with 2 walks and a run scored. Muncy is easily our best player this year, and you'll be reading his name a lot in recaps (and probably in the MLB draft this summer). Backing Muncy up was catcher Josh Ludy, who went 2-4 with a double and 2 RBI. The rest of the offense was pretty quiet.
In Game Two on Sunday, the Bears used a trio of pitchers (Max Garner, Tyler Bremer, and Joey Hainsfurther) to hold Oral Roberts to 2 runs on 7 hits. I was excited to see Hainsfurther's name in the box score, but I'm a little surprised that he didn't play more this series. He has been a real weapon for us with the bat the last few years. I have to wonder if he's coming off an injury. Hopefully, we'll see him in the lineup as the season progresses.
The offense was very similar to Game One of the series: Muncy 1-3, run, RBI. Ludy 2-4 with a run scored. One thing that I love to see is Logan Vick getting in on the action with a 1-2 with 2 walks and an RBI performance. I'll have some more thoughts on him after the jump.
Game Three on Sunday was a very different affair. Starter Brad Kuntz was very impressive, going 5 innings and allowing 1 run on only 2 hits and a walk. Oh, and he struck out 6. That's good stuff. Kuntz, a lefty, was a reliever last year. Hopefully he can make a successful transition to starter and give us another quality lefty to follow Turley.
Offensively, we straight up brought out the lumber. Muncy (3-4, 3 RBI, Run, Double) and Ludy (2-3, 2 RBI, Double) both had great games at the plate (where have I heard that before?). They were joined by Freshmen Outfielders Michael Howard (1-2, 2 Runs, 2 walks) and Adam Toth (2-3, 2 Runs, RBI, Triple) and Sophomore 2b Lawton Langford (2-4, Run, RBI, Double).
Now, a few thoughts (questions) about the coming season:
- Max Muncy - Can Mad Max keep up his torrid hitting from the past few years and lead our team? I very much believe he can.
- Logan Vick - Can Logan come back from a down year in 2011 and be the player he showed us in 2010? In 2010, Vick was a beast. Dude put up a .329/.473/.553 triple slash line with 17 doubles and 10 homers. For those of you who don't speak baseball... that is beast mode. He wasn't the same player in 2011 after a hamstring injury. If he can regain that form, he can take us a long way.
- Pitching: As StoneRanger mentioned in his opening day post, we lost two very talented pitchers to the MLB draft last year. Logan Verret was our ace, but he and Brooks Pinckard are now reporting for Minor League Spring Training. Can our remaining pitchers step up and fill the void? A lot of that will depend on newcomers. I was very excited by what Kuntz showed us on Sunday. He's a lefty who struck out over a batter an inning in relief last year, and that's a good thing. Hopefully, he can cement our rotation with more performances like his first. As far as Turley, he's a very good command lefty who uses deception and pinpoint control (see: incredibly low walk rates) but lacks "stuff", specifically velocity on his fastball. He'll never light up radar guns or strike out many batters, but I do think he's poised to lead our staff with a solid year.
- Power: Where will it come from? We have several really talented hitter on our team this year, but we definitely lack in the power department. You won't be seeing many longballs in recaps. Muncy can certainly hit one out of park (11 homers in 2010; 9 homers in 2011 after the NCAA changed to the new "power sapping" bats), but beyond him there isn't much pop to be had. Josh Ludy is our cleanup hitter and he has hit a total of 5 home runs in the his last 3 years at Baylor. That's right... 5. As I mentioned above, if Logan Vick can be the player he was in 2010 that will add instant power, but if not, we're going to need to string together hits and play some "small ball" to be successful offensively.
- Finally, I wanted to mention that after our sweep this weekend, Baylor Baseball moved up to #25 in the Baseball America Rankings. Congrats to Steve Smith, the coaches, and the players! Sic 'em Bears!