Wait, what's that? Our Baseball team has won its first five games while scoring 26 runs and only allowing 7? And four of the five games were against perennial NCAA Tournament Teams Oral Roberts and TCU? Maybe the best first week of College Baseball ever? Yup.
The Bear's continued their hot start Tuesday night with a masterful 7-1 victory over #15 TCU. A single win over a highly ranked opponent in Baseball isn't as big a deal as it is in Basketball or Football. A series win over TCU would have been more enlightening, but the way we beat our future Big12 rivals was awfully impressive.
Offensively, it was a whole team effort. Nathan Orf (dh), Cal Towey (3b), Max Muncy (1b), Josh Ludy (c), Logan Vick (cf), Dan Evatt (lf), Jake Miller (ss), and Adam Toth (rf) each had a hit, and Lawton Langford (2b) went 3-3 with a double and a run scored. Another day, that would probably get him my (brand new!) ODB Player of the Game award. But not today...
Today we have to give that to the pitchers. Trent Blank (Sr. RHP), Kolt Browder (Jr. RHP), and Joey Hainsfurther (Sr. RHP) combined to pitch a two hit, one run game, and they had a No-Hitter going in the 8th inning. That's just awesome, and there's really nothing more that I can say about it.
Player(s) of the Game: The three headed monster of Blank, Browder, and Hainsfurther.
-As a side note on Hainsfurther: I wondered earlier in the week whether he was coming off an injury, but that is not the case. From what I've read, Steve Smith just wants to use Hainsfurther on the mound more this year, so we may not get to see him in the line-up. I must say I'm surprised after three really solid years with the bat.
Keep reading after the jump for details on our victory over Texas State and my expectations for the season.
The Bears' 5-1 victory over Texas State on Wednesday was also full of goodness.
The usual suspects did most of the offensive damage. Ludy (2-3, 2 RBI, Double) and Muncy (1-5, RBI, Run, Triple) did what they always do, and Toth (1-4, RBI, Run, Double) and Langford (1-4, Run) chipped in as well. I really like what I'm seeing from Langford in the early season. DalPorto was the opening day second baseman, but Langford seems to have taken over the position with his hot bat.
Our pitching was once again dominant. Tyler Bremer (Sr. RHP) started and was very effective through 4 innings of work, striking out 3. After Bremer, several intriguing pitchers came out of the 'pen. Trae Davis pitched the fifth inning, Landry Miles pitched a scoreless 6th and 7th and struck out a batter, Crayton Bare got the first two outs in the 8th, and Dillon Newman threw the final inning-and-a-third striking out four batters. Newman has been awesome in his first two appearances. It doesn't get much better than pitching 2.1 innings with 5 Ks and no Earned Runs.
Player(s) of the Game: Max Muncy and Josh Ludy, who both have five game hitting streaks going.
Prashanth asked me in the comments the other day what my expectations are for the season, and I think that's a really good question. Our team is in an interesting place. We have a great deal of experience on the offensive side with Juniors and Seniors such as Jake Miller (ss), Steve DalPorto (2b), and Dan Evatt (of) returning along with resident studs Muncy and Ludy. We can also hope for a rebound year from Logan Vick and contributions from some of our talented young Freshmen and Sophomores (Michael Howard, Lawton Langford, and Adam Toth). Nathan Orf (dh/c) is a Junior transfer from Illinois-Chicago. From that group, in spite of my concerns about a lack of power, I think we'll receive more run support than we did from last year's lineup that featured the now graduated trio of Landis Ware, Chris Slater, and Brooks Pinckard.
However, our pitching is in a state of flux. It's a difficult thing to replace three pitchers the caliber of Logan Verret, Pinckard, and Jon Ringenberg. That's a lot of innings to fill. I peg Turley to have a very strong season and truly be an anchor for us, but I'm more excited about the possibilities for Brad Kuntz. I have yet to find a thorough scouting report on him, but Baseball America described him as having a "live arm" in an article published last year. The term "live arm" is scout code for good fastball velocity, which is supported by his superior strikeout rates. Hard throwing lefties don't grow on trees, and if he continues to develop, he could be a special pitcher for us.
Previously mentioned Freshman Outfielder (and LHP) Michael Howard is a true pitching x-factor. He was taken in the 21st Round of last year's MLB draft but decided not to sign, and the coaches seem pretty high on him in a pitching capacity. I would bet that we start to see him in a relief role at some point in the season. Along with Howard, Miles Landry is an interesting pitcher. Landry is a Junior who has only thrown one-third of an inning in his Baylor career (before his nice outing tonight), but Head Coach Steve Smith has spoken highly of his abilities. Trae Davis is a reliever that I heard a lot about in MLB draft circles last year. That happens when a guy starts touching 98 with his fastball. His 2011 results were uneven to say the least, but he has a chance to make a splash this year.
To sum up, we have a lot of question marks and a ton of potential. I fully expect our team to have a winning record (better than last year's squad, which was actually sub .500 in Big12 play) and make it into the NCAA Tournament. Where we go from there depends a great deal on the development of our pitching staff (And yes, I do feel silly saying that after they only allowed 7 runs in 5 games, but baseball is a sport of streaks and regressions, and I'm just not sold on them as unit yet). If things break right - and that's a pretty big if - we could have a downright nasty team... And hey, is RGIII still eligible? Maybe they could recruit him. I'd bet a lot of money that he throws 95 mph heat. Who am I kidding? He's probably got a wicked curve too...