Baseball opened up Big 12 play this weekend, sweeping Texas Tech with a combination of potent offense and solid pitching. The Bears ran their record up to 14-7, 3-0 Big 12. That leaves us tied for first with UT in conference play and tied for second with Mizzou in overall record. Only A&M has been better overall.
In Friday's game, the Bears offense exploded for 16 hits and 9 runs. Every starting position player got on base at least once, paced by Lawton Langford (3-4, 2 RBI, Run, Walk). Langford hit in the leadoff spot for the first time all season, but this move was inevitable to me. Langford has been tearing the cover off the ball all season, and he's got the speed to steal a base when necessary. Keep an eye out for more Langford in this recap. He'll be around.
Other hitters of note were Josh Ludy (3-5, Run, RBI), Logan Vick (2-4, RBI, Run, Walk), Cal Towey (3-5, RBI), Nathan Orf (2-5, RBI, 2 Runs), and Michael Howard (2-4, 2 RBI, Run). This offense just keeps cranking out good games, and I don't see any end in sight. Hitters go through slumps, but taking a walk and keeping a high On-Base Percentage doesn't. If you want proof, take a look at Muncy - he went 0-3 this game, but he walked twice giving his teammates opportunities to drive him in.
On the pitching side, Josh Turley had a decent game by his standards, going 6.1 Innings and giving up four Runs. Kolt Browder was more impressive in relief, going 2.2 Innings with no Runs, no Hits, and no Walks. He had 3 Ks. The Bears' bullpen was outstanding this series, so you'll be hearing more about those guys in a moment.
Player(s) of the Game: Lawton Langford, who continued his scorching season with a nice game from the leadoff spot.
Saturday's game was a much tighter affair. The Bears pulled out a 4-3 nail-biter when Logan Vick's eighth inning double plated Cal Towey. Besides Vick (3-4, Run, RBI), the offensive heroes were Langford (2-4, RBI - I told you he'd be hanging around this recap), Howard (2-4, Run), and Towey (2-4, 2 Runs). Towey has been on fire lately, pulling his average up 74 points in his last 7 games to sit currently at .318.
The pitchers pulled off another impressive game, as Trent Blank gave up 3 Runs in 6 Innings with 3 Ks. After Blank, Dillon Newman pitched a scoreless 7th Inning, and Brad Kuntz came in for 8th and 9th. I was really surprised to see Kuntz in relief. It happened last weekend in the rain shortened Memphis series, but at the time, I just though it was to keep Kuntz on his Sunday schedule. Apparently, I was incorrect. It now looks like Kuntz is taking over the closer role, and if this game is any indication, he's going to be a good one. He threw two innings of no hit, no walk ball with one strikeout. I wonder if this move had more to do with Kuntz's performance as a starter so far this year, or Steve Smith wanting a shutdown closer to put close games away. I don't really have the answer.
Player(s) of the Game: Logan Vick.
Sunday's game was pretty much a blowout. The Bears won 8-1, driven by the best performance of Max Garner's career. Garner went 6.1 Innings with 9 Ks and only 1 Unearned Run. Garner had been the Bears' mid-week starter, but with Kuntz headed back to the ‘pen, Garner now becomes the Sunday starter. If he keeps pitching like this, it will look like a brilliant move my Steve Smith. Garner was followed by Austin Stone, Creighton Bare, and Landry Miles who all chipped in to go 2.2 scoreless innings. That means our bullpen didn't give up a single run all weekend. Nice work, gentlemen.
On the offensive side, the usual suspects led the charge. Muncy went 2-5 and Logan Vick went 2-3 with 2 Runs, 2 RBI, a Walk, and a Double (his 11th of the season!). Jake Miller had a big blow as well, hitting a 3 RBI Triple in the 7th. Langford had a hit (of course) and ended the day with a batting average of .410. No, that's not a typo. The kid sprays singles like a Panama City, FL wet t-shirt contest... No? Too much? I'm sorry, but it is Spring Break 2012 after all.
Player(s) of the Game: Max Garner. Here's to many more outings like that one.