It is always good to get a series win on a weekend.
The Bears did that against Columbia without the offense ever really getting rolling. Baylor won 2-3 despite only scoring 10 runs in the three games. Tyler Thomas had his best outing of an already great season, throwing 8 shutout innings with 7 strikeouts. He is now 3-1 on the season averaging over 7 innings per start, and has put up a 0.94 ERA. He has a 10 to 1 strikeout to walk ratio, and is throwing all three pitches at an elite level. Enjoy getting to watch him spin it this year. Antonio Valdez and Chase Wehsner produced back to back hits in the first inning produced one run, and that’s all the ace would need. The Bears added two insurance runs in the 5th on a Jared McKenzie inside the park home run. Mason Marriot came on in the 9th for his 4th save, and while his outings are seemingly always eventful, but the freshman is 1-0 with 4 saves and a 1.80 ERA.
Game 2 saw the Bears hop out to an early lead, and Jake Jackson looked to be having a solid day on the mound. He then struggled in the 5th inning allowing 3 hits and a walk and giving up 3 runs. He has struggled more than expected this year, and the Bears will need him to round into shape during conference play. The bullpen struggled int his game giving up runs in the 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th innings, and the Bears couldn’t match Columbia’s offense in the second game.
Game 3 was another low scoring game, which featured Waco-product Will Rigney continuing to grow up in the spotlight. He gave up one run in the first inning, then went the next 4.1 innings without surrendering a run. With a solid 4.20 ERA this year, the sophomore is growing into a role as a solid weekend starter. Aside from the LSU game, he has limited walks and been very effective. He has a live fastball and uses it well to get people out, as well as set up his off-speed pitches. Marriott came in late in a 2-2 game and threw 2.2 innings to move the game from the 8th to the bottom of the 10th inning earning his first win. In the 10th, Richardson and Nevin started off the inning with a single and a double. This led to an intentional walk of Chase Wehsner to bring up Jared McKenzie. Despite struggling to open the season, Jared promptly put a great swing on a fastball and walked it off for the Bears with a single.
As we roll into Big 12 play, it has been a bit of a mixed bag for the Bears to start the season. Maryland is again looking to be a regional team, but getting swept at home is never acceptable. Since that bad start, it has been a very promising non-conference period for the Bears. UCLA and LSU were great wins, along with winning a series against a ranked Duke team. I still have some major concerns for the pitching staff, with a lot of the bullpen showing promise, but also some inconsistency. If Jackson can get into a grove in his starts that will really help the rest of the staff.
I’m currently cautiously optimistic. We had a lot of questions to answer on the pitching staff, a high-powered offense that has yet to really put it all together, and an All-American who has been in a slump for the first 4 weeks of the year and came out of it 9-6 with 3 of those losses in an opening weekend sweep.
Rivalry week to open conference, check back later this week for my Big 12 preview which will unfortunately include that purple school.