To be completely forthcoming, I feel a little silly celebrating a .500 record after last season's success. However, it's a good start, and the Bears (5-3 Big 12) are in fact sitting 3rd in a wide open conference. With Texas and TCU struggling mightily, the door is wide open for our team to make a run to Regionals if they can maintain their current pace. They will be tested this coming weekend against the conference leading and nationally ranked Oklahoma Sooners.
This past weekend, the Bears took two-of-three games against a relatively weak WVU team, and they came close to a sweep after a valiant comeback in game one. Dillon Newman started for the Bears on Friday, and much like two weeks ago, he pitched well until giving up the ghost in the middle innings. The offense fought back in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings, but ultimately fell a run short. Cal Towey, who had a very nice weekend, paced the bats with a 2-4, R, 2 RBI night including a triple.
Game two was all Baylor as Max Garner and Crayton Bare dominated the Mountaineers for nine shutout innings. Bare particularly dominant in his three innings, allowing one hit, one walk, and striking out six. The offensive standouts included Jake Miller (3-3, RBI, 2 BBs), Lawton Langford (3-5, 2 R, Double), and Grayson Porter (2-4, R, 3 RBI, HR). Miller has surged recently and pulled his average up to .266, while Porter has begun to flash homerun power. In fact, Porter has more homeruns (5) in only 62 at-bats than the entire rest of the team combined. That's both a good sign for Porter and bad sign for everyone else.
Game three was all Baylor. Austin Stone and Ryan Smith help WVU to one run over seven innings, and the bats cranked out eleven runs. Towey, Orf, Miller, and Doe all had multiple hits and Mitch Price, who has really struggled since his strong start to the season knocked his first homerun as a Baylor Bear.
It's hard to say how much of this weekend's offensive success was due to our hitters and how much can be attributed to WVU's relatively poor pitching. Certainly it's some combination of the two. After game one, I was worried that the Bears were going to let this series get away from them. This team is not in a position to give away games against the bottom tier of the conference. A .500 record isn't going to get them into the post season this year. Not coming out of a relatively weak conference. That's the one downside of Texas and TCU's struggles: they've put a cap on how strong the Big 12 will be considered against the other conferences. It's possible that we'll only have three teams make it in. Right now, based on overall records, that would probably be Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Kansas State. There's a lot of work to be done. Tonight and next weekend will be telling.