After giving up 5 runs over the last two innings, and spoiling another solid Daniel Castano outing, the Bears find themselves in a very unfamiliar place: alone in last place in the Big 12 standings. There is no sugar coating the situation. The only way to make the NCAA Regionals will be to win the Big 12 Tournament. That is if they can even get in the tournament.
When the league was formed, and 11 original conference member schools had varsity baseball programs, the Big 12 Tournament originally invited only 6 schools for a double elimination affair. In 1999, the tournament was expanded to 8, leaving 3 schools out. Then, Iowa State dropped their program in 2001 meaning only 2 schools were out. After conference realignment defections, the current tournament setup leaves only one school out of the post season tournament. If the season ended today, that would be our Bears.
The good news is the Bears certainly can play their way out of the cellar with a road trip to Kansas (6-9 in league play) and a surprisingly mediocre UT rounding out the Bears' Big 12 Schedule. Kansas has one more conference series than Baylor, but they have to play TCU in Fort Worth followed by K-State to end their season. Assuming KU is swept in Fort Worth (which is never safe), Kansas, K-State, and Baylor look to be left fighting to stay out of that 9th place in the standings. K-State, who took 2 out of 3 from us to this weekend, get Oklahoma at home before ending their season in Lawrence against the Jayhawks.
The Bears travel to UTSA on Tuesday. In past years, that game would be played at San Antonio Missions' Wollf Stadium, but this year it will be played on the UTSA campus. But, it will be this weekend's series against Kansas that will provide a little clarity into how everything will shake out for the final league standings. The Bears are 3-13 on the road this season, and the Jayhawks are 10-10 at home. With 8 games guaranteed, and only 6 affecting their final fate, the Bears need to get hot in a hurry. Not only may we be looking at a 3rd straight missed Regional, but the Bears' status as one of only 2 schools (OU being the other) to participate in every Big 12 Baseball Tournament could be in jeopardy.