The bye week provides us the chance to glance forward to another upcoming Baylor season. I know that thinking about Baylor baseball these days is not exactly a likely cure for the mountain blues we’re all feeling after Saturday, but for those of you who want a break from ESPN’s SEC worship or are diehard baseball fans, hopefully this series of posts will serve you well.
Before we can think about the upcoming year we have to (I apologize in advance for this) think about the year behind us. I will try to serve as your Dante as we take a walk through Baylor Baseball’s 2014 Inferno. Let’s start with the good—as best we can. The Bears went 20-10 at home, finished with 4 pitchers who had a sub 4.00 ERA, and Adam Toth came close to hitting .300. Not exactly the ’27 Yankees or the 2012 Bears here, but at least a few shades of decent in an otherwise disappointing year.
Now for the more important story of the season: The Bears were, quite simply, bad. That .667 winning percentage at home dropped to .416 during Big 12 play (The overall conference record was 8-15), the bears had no batters hit .300, they had only 3 pitchers with a winning record (a function of the offense at least as much as an indictment on the pitching), and were an astounding 4-16 on the road (next time someone complains about Briles on the road keep this stat in mind). Some wins against lesser competition helped the Bears overall final record come to a close to respectable looking 26-31, but this was not a team that was even as good as mediocre when it mattered most.
A quick rundown of the schedule
The Bears opened the year up on Valentine’s Day weekend in Tempe, against then 19th ranked and future regional participant Arizona State. Baylor actually rallied from a 7-2 deficit to win 9-7. This was the high point of the season. I am not kidding. Steve Smith’s club then dropped the next two games before coming back to Waco for an extended home stand.
The first midweek game of the season was a win against UT-Arlington and the Bears followed that up with a nice weekend sweep of Austin Peay. Things got weird weather wise, next, as 5 of Baylor’s next 6 games were rained out. Two of these (vs. Incarnate Word and TAMU-CC) were in Waco, but bizarrely there were also rainouts in San Diego, for an early season invitational tournament. Baylor did end up getting 4 games in before finally departing San Diego (2 vs. Cal, 1 vs. UNC-Wilmington, and 1 vs. San Diego) and lost all of them. Only one of the games (8-0, vs SD) was a blow out, but nonetheless it has to be demoralizing to travel across the country and battle rainouts at a beach paradise only to finally go 0-4.
It looked like the Bears would actually rally to show some life after this trip, though. They won 3 of the next 4 (all at home, 1 vs Lamar and 2 of 3 vs Cal St. Fullerton), before dropping a midweek road game to Houston.
This point in the season brought the start of Big 12 play, where the Bears actually took 2 of 3 in Waco from future CWS participant Texas Tech. They then beat Houston Baptist before wining 2 of 3 from Ok. State to close out 5-2 home stand. Ok, so maybe this was actually the high point in the season. Things got sad quickly after this.
A Tuesday night found the bears on the wrong side of a 14-3 romping vs UT-Arlington and a weekend trip to Morgantown ended with 2 losses and one weather cancellation. Two midweek home wins vs. Incarnate Word came next, but that did not do much to ease the stink that a 6 game losing streak would immediately cause. Those 6 losses included a sweep in Austin (including a heartbreaking comeback by the Horns on Friday night) followed by road losses to Sam Houston and Dallas Baptist, and then a home loss to Dallas Baptist. That’s right folks-back to back losses to Dallas Baptist by a combined score of 18-11. The Bears did salvage the final of 3 games vs the Patriots, before going on to beat TX Southern 1-0 at home, in a break from Big 12 play.
Next came a road trip to Manhattan that saw the baseball Snydercats take 2 of 3, before the Bears split 2 midweek games with TX State. Baylor was then swept by a really good Kansas team, in Waco, before splitting midweek games at the Baylor Ballpark (loss to SHSU and a win vs TAMU-CC).
The Bears then went on the road to win 2 of 3 in Norman, before finishing off the regular season with a win vs. UTSA at home and a win in 1 of 3 games vs TCU in Waco.
The Bears were able to do a little in the Big 12 Tournament in Oklahoma City, but not nearly enough to compete for the tournament title that would have been required for an NCAA tournament berth. They opened with a loss to TCU, before upsetting Kansas and West Virginia, but then lost, one last time, to the purple frogs.
With that, the season mercifully came to an end. Those of you who have followed this program for a long period of time know that it has had very high highs and very low lows. Even by the usually inconsistent standards, though, 2014 felt a long way from the 2012 team that was just one game away from the College World Series. Here is hoping that 2015 will be better. The good news is, it cannot be much worse.