This is what awesome looks like. (Waco Tribune Herald, Rod Aydelotte/ Associated Press )
A few thoughts:
- Honestly, I was a bit worried coming into today's game. The last game the Bears played was just under a week ago and while Baylor's pitching didn't seem to suffer from breaks, the bats have occasionally seemed to rust. This 8-1 win over a "pitching first" school relieved those fears. Hopefully this will carry over to tomorrow.
- Speaking of pitching, Trent Blank threw one of the better games of this season (and he's had a few good ones, with a record of 11-1). He pitched a career-high tying 8.0 innings, only allowing 1 ER on 7 hits with 5 strike-outs. The Arkansas hitters just could not get good contact with the ball, when they got contact. I think that @theebears' (on Twitter) comparison of Blank to Greg Maddux has an element of truth to it. Blank, like the rest of this Baylor rotation, is not a flamethrower (he may have hit 90 mph once all game) but he didn't need to blow the batters away to get them out. His precision, especially through the first 6 or so innings, was spectacular. Crayton Bare came in for the 9th and finished the game quickly, sending Arkansas down with a groundout, strikeout, and groundout to pitcher, and earned himself a mention by RGIII on Twitter.
- Jake Miller made a pair of stellar plays at shortstop today. I don't know how he's been playing all year (honestly, I haven't seen a lot about him, at all) but today was great. He made one especially heads-up play in the second, punishing Arkansas for a baserunning error by gunning down the runner at 3rd. This proved fruitful when the next Arkansas batter hit a single that would have been an RBI, had there been a runner on the corner.
- Max Muncy showed why he was drafted in the 5th round by going 3-4 with 2 doubles. He also played some fantastic defense at 1st, including sacrificing his foot for an out in the 8th.
- The Baylor offense showed again that they can score any way they want to. Logan Vick doubled his season home-run total in this game, starting off with a 2-run shot in the first and adding to the lead in the fourth. Josh Ludy hit his 16th homer of the season (his 3rd of the NCAA tournament) and the middle of the Bears' lineup showed why Baylor is on top of the Big 12 in batting average.
- Baylor Ballpark is honestly one of the prettiest places on campus. As a Texas Rangers fan, it was a much better place to be to watch a much better game than whatever happened in San Fransisco around the same time.
- Baylor plays tomorrow at 3 PM for the chance to go to Omaha and the College World Series. The probable pitching matchups are Baylor LHP Josh Turley (9-1, 1.83 ERA, 103.0 IP, 75 SO) versus Arkansas RHP Ryne Stanek (7-4, 2.83 ERA, 82.2 IP, 76 SO).
I'm going to the game again tomorrow, and this time I'll take some notes so I don't have to reconstruct my thoughts from the box-score and ESPN replay around midnight.