Tomorrow at four o'clock, the Baylor Bears begin their Super Regional series against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Baylor Ballpark. Check out the official Baylor preview here. This season can be counted a success no matter what happens from here on out, but I have a feeling that the Bears aren't done yet... not after what happened last weekend. Losing the first game of a Regional and being forced to win four games in three days is about as difficult as it gets in college baseball. The number of less-heralded players who have to step up under those circumstances is crazy, and the fact that the Bears achieved this is a testament to the quality of the team from top to bottom and their ability to will themselves to victory.
How about senior Tyler Bremer throwing 6 strong innings while allowing 2 runs and striking out 5? How about Dillon Newman finishing off the final game with 5 innings of one-hit ball and 5 Ks? How about Dan Evatt hitting a homerun and stealing a homerun from beyond the fence in the same game? How about freshman Austin Stone throwing 5.2 innings of 2 hit, one run ball? I would be lying if I said that I saw any of that coming, and I would be lying if I said I thought the Bears could make it out of that Regional after a sloppy and error-filled first game against ORU. Yet here they are. It's been a heck of ride, guys. See how the Bears stack up against Arkansas after the jump.
Since the Super Regional is a best of three against a single team, it should play out in a more typical way. Blank is scheduled to pitch game one to give Turley a bit more rest after throwing Monday, Turley will throw in game two, and although it's not announced, I wouldn't be surprised to see Bremer start game three. Austin Stone would also be an option there.
The Razorbacks will throw out their one-two punch of DJ Baxendale and Ryne Stanek. These two are very good starters who have freakishly similar numbers. They both sit at 2.83 ERAs, 7-4 records, and 8.3 strikeouts/game. They may be doing some form of cloning over there in Arkansas... I'm going to try to keep this classy, but I want you to know that I'm now fighting a terrible urge to make an inappropriate joke about that last sentence. If you know what I was going to say, shame on you. Behind Baxendale and Stanek is a lock-down bullpen, where seven different relievers have ERAs under 2.58. This is a very talented crew of pitchers.
Luckily, the Bears' offense is superior to the Razorbacks' in every conceivable way. Baylor has more power, more on-base skills, and hits for higher average. The only real standout that Arkansas has on offense is 3B Matt Reynolds (.343/.448/.535), who was taken in the 2nd Round of the Draft this week (although most thought that round was a reach for him). A big part of this series will be strength vs. strength: can the talented Arkansas pitching staff can keep the Bears' machine-like offense off the board.
Here are a few more numbers on the Razorbacks: Overall: 42-19; RPI Top 100: 21-17; Road Record: 9-8; Score 5.4 Runs/Game; Allow 3.5 Runs/Game; RPI Ranking(WarrenNolan): 12.
This should be great battle, with a trip to Omaha on the line. If you're near Waco this weekend (and you can scam tickets, because I bet they're sold out), you need to see some Baylor Baseball. Sic ‘em Bears!