The Bears finished their second full week of baseball Sunday with a hard fought loss to Lamar in the Baylor Invitational. As tough as the loss was, the team still went 3-2 over the course of the week with a win over Sam Houston State and two wins over a talented UC Irvine team that's ranked in the top 30. The Bears now stand at 9-4 for a 0.692 winning percentage, good for 4th in the Big 12.
I would argue that Baylor has faced better non-conference competition than any other Big 12 school. 10 of our 13 games have been against teams that made the NCAA Tournament last year. The only other team I can think of that has taken on that kind of competition is Texas, which "played" a series at Stanford, the #2 team in the country. Did you see what I did there with the quotation marks? Yeah. Stanford did things to UT that should never be spoken of. Have you ever seen "The Crying Game"? Augie Garrido probably sat under a cold shower sobbing after that series...
Anywho... I'll get into strength of schedule a bit more when I do a Big 12 primer for the start of conference play. For now, on to the Baylor Classic.
The big story of Friday's game against UC Irvine was Josh Turley. Turley had his best game of the season, allowing just 1 Run on 3 Hits over 7 Innings. He struck out 6. That's an ace being an ace. With a pitching performance like that, the offense was secondary in this game, but the guys played smart baseball, taking advantage of errors in the first and second innings to take a quick 4-0 lead. Turley wouldn't need any more runs.
Player(s) of the Game: Josh Turley.
Game One of our Saturday doubleheader was not pretty. The Bears offense sputtered against Lamar pitcher Jonathan Dziedzic, whose last name makes me happy I'm writing this and don't have to pronounce anything. Dziedzic had a really promising freshman year for Lamar in 2010, but he was derailed last year due to an elbow injury. He did a tremendous job against our formidable offense, pitching a complete game shutout with four Ks. He was so good, in fact, that he managed to snap Max Muncy's hit streak at 10 games. When Muncy can't get a hit off of a pitcher, he's throwing pretty darn well. Max Garner started for the Bears and gave up 6 Runs in four innings.
Player(s) of the Game: That guy on Lamar whose name I can't pronounce.
Game Two of Saturday's doubleheader was VERY pretty. Trent Blank continued his role as our teams secret ace. He was really an afterthought compared to Turley and Kuntz at the beginning of the season, but he has been our best pitcher by leaps and bounds. In this game, he went 7 Innings giving up 1 Run on 4 Hits. I'll have more on Blank in a moment.
Our offense came back to life after getting Dziedzic'ed earlier in the day and scored 6 Runs. Logan Vick, Lawton Langford and Michael Howard all had big games for the Bears. I'll have more on Langford in a moment as well.
Player(s) of the Game: Trent Blank.
The Finale on Sunday was a hard fought contest. Brad Kuntz had a game to forget, giving up 5 Runs in 2.1 Innings and putting the Bears in a hole early. The team battled back in the 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th but couldn't get Adam Toth (pinch running for Muncy) home from second base with two outs in the 9th. The hot bat once again belonged to Michael Howard who went 2-3 with 2 Runs and 2 RBI. Howard is playing well in his first year, batting .474. If he keeps hitting at that pace, it will be hard for Steve Smith to keep him out of the starting lineup.
Player(s) of the Game: The entire offense for battling until the last out.
- Trent Blank has been incredibly good thus far in the season. How good? How does a 4-0 record with 0.81 ERA over 22.1 Innings sound? He has allowed only 9 Hits over that span and they were all singles. Baseball America mentioned that Blank is using a lower arm slot this year, which fits what I saw against UCLA. He's coming at hitters from the sidearm, and they're obviously not picking the ball up well. Nicely done, Trent.
- Lawton Langford, our young second baseman, has really been impressive this year. He seems to get a hit every time he comes up to the plate as evidenced by his .429 average. In addition, he looks like a good defensive second baseman and has 4 stolen bases. After only getting 45 at-bats last year, he's really coming into his own.