Baylor Baseball isn't like you .500; it can't get by on a couple of high-altitude wins a year and make the CWS!
Hey Miles, I asked myself this past Tuesday night while looking over box scores, is there anything more disappointing in college baseball than taking a high-profile conference series against OU during the weekend and then dropping your Tuesday game to TEXAS FREAKING STATE? No, other Miles. No, there is not.
Just before the TCU weekend series, Kendall Rogers answered a tweet from @T_Ducoff, who asked what the Bears would need to do to make the post season. Rogers' response was as follows, "Stock rising, zero room for error." Two things struck me about this tweet: 1) @T_Ducoff is apparently related to Jonathan Ducoff, a very talented 2014 middle-infield commit for the Bears. 2) A series loss at TCU would definitely be considered an "error." Well, the error has now officially happened.
This series was tightly contested from top-to-toes (each game was decided by one run in the late innings), and Baylor can take some comfort from playing good baseball on the road. Unfortunately, moral victories don't get them any closer to a regional appearance.
In game one, Max Garner gave a workman-like pitching performance, going 7 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 2 Ks. Crayton Bare, who has been dominant out of the pen down the stretch, came for 2 IP, 0 R, 3 Ks. Nathan Orf had a nice game at the plate, but when doesn't he? The real hero of the game was Mitch Price, who had a pinch hit game winning solo homer in the 9th.
Price has struggled since his decent start, but I hope to see more of him to finish out the season. Whatever happens for the rest of this year, Price is going to be a big part of the next three. The more in-game pitching he can see, the better he'll be next year and beyond.
Game two was a 15 inning marathon that Baylor dropped 2-1. Based on the final score, you might think that TCU's pitching was dominant. You would be wrong. Baylor had 12 hits and 2 walks over the course of the game. In fact, in the eighth inning, they loaded the bases with only one out, but couldn't manage to get a run across. TCU made plays at the right time, and Baylor couldn't get the big hit when they had to have it.
A great deal of credit must be given to Austin Stone and Josh Michaelec who combined for 15 innings of 2-run ball. It's a real shame that their offense couldn't get the win for them. Michaelec, a Junior, has been nothing short of spectacular out of the bullpen, allowing only a .211 opponent average and striking out 7.82 batters per nine on his way to a 2.27 ERA over 35.1 innings.
Game three looked promising after Baylor put up four runs in the third by way of a Toth single, a Langford walk, an Orf double, and finally, a Towey bomb - his fourth of the season. However, that was the end of the scoring for the Bears, and Ryan Smith and Crayton Bare gave up the winning run in the seventh inning.
Sadly, Baylor only has two options to make a regional at this point in the year. They can either win 8 of their last 12 games plus a couple in the Big 12 Tournament and go over 30 wins on the season, or they can continue muddling along to the tune of .500 and win the conference tournament outright. I wish that I could say either option sounded likely, but that is not the case. Especially not when Dillon Newman was nowhere to be found this weekend. I've been looking for information on Newman's situation, but I haven't found anything. I have to assume that it's some kind of injury. He has been our best starter all year (he's only walked 2 (!) batters this season. That's crazy.), and he pitched well against OU, so it's certainly not an issue of performance.
Honestly, I didn't mean for this post to be such a bummer, but I'm just not seeing a way for this team to reach its potential anymore. The Bears are certainly not the only Big 12 team that will miss out. There's virtually no way that TCU makes it, and Kendall Rogers pronounced UT dead earlier today on twitter. That leaves OU, K State, and Oklahoma State as the most likely teams to find post-season berths. Kansas also has an outside shot, but that's just too weird to think about. I'm going to pretend that I don't even see their 9-6 conference record.
I would leave you with a "feed the beaver", but I'm pretty sure that the beaver has headed upstream to keep tabs on the new football stadium. He can only take so much, you know?