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Baseball Seeks Wins in Lubbock

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Baseball had a rough outing last week, but they're headed to Lubbock this weekend in hopes of snagging some wins.

Theron Kay faces a batter during the U of H midweek game last week.
Theron Kay faces a batter during the U of H midweek game last week.
BaylorBears.com

Last week was not a pretty one for the Bears.  They dropped all four of their games last week, which included a split home-and-home with Texas State, as well as a home matchup against University of Houston.

This post is going to look very different than the previous recaps.  Sorry.  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Recaps

The game against U of H was a mess, pitching-wise.  Of the 5 Baylor pitchers who took the mound, only Spicer escaped without a run.  However, hitting was also inconsistent and wasn't able to bail out the pitching staff.  There were 8 hits, but 10 were left on base.  There were also numerous fielding errors (4 errors total, 3 from fielding/throwing) which allowed the explosive 4-run U of H 5th.  It was just a sloppy, sloppy evening at the ballpark.

First game of the Texas State series was a big turnaround, but losing in extra innings on a homer proved to be demoralizing.  Across the board, the team was improved from the Tuesday night debacle.  Hitting was great, with 16 hits and 8 runs scored during the game, and pitching was slightly less stellar than usual.  The next evening, however, was a mess.  Hitting was not good, as the Bears only managed 2 hits throughout the entirety of the game.  This, in combination with the 2 throwing errors in the top of the second, allowed Texas State to pull away with the series win.  Finally, the nail in the coffin was the Saturday night game, in which we out-hit Texas State but were unable to capitalize on said hits, scoring only 1 run to their 4.  Pitching was good this game, with the exception of the allowance of 4 runs on the only 4 Texas State hits.

Honestly, there's really not a lot that happened in these games.  (In fact, RHP Joe Kirkland told me I didn't have to recap them because "it was bad.")  But this is a good segway into the next section of this editorial, in which I'll force my two cents on y'all regarding this team.

Baseball Thoughts

There's been a lot of talk on Twitter and campus (among various other avenues) that our baseball team is much like Alexander's day: terrible, horrible, no good, and very bad.  This is not the case.  There are some things that clearly need addressing, but the following are my two cents regarding this team.  Please feel free to disagree with me or ask any questions!  I'm just an observer; I am by no means an expert on this team, and I for sure don't have all the answers.  But chances are strong that if you ask it, someone will have something to say.  :)

On The Team

This is a good team.  The only thing holding this team back from being really great is their inconsistency.  This inconsistency was the most noticeable during the Great Spring Break Hitting Drought, in which we went 0-10.  Granted, during that time, we played some really tough OOC games: Cal State Fullerton, LSU, TAMU, DBU, etc.  Those aren't exactly cupcakes.  LSU is a traditional powerhouse, and brilliant pitching by Daniel Castano allowed them a mere 2 runs.  That's awesome.

Furthermore, the hitting inconsistency might not be as big of an issue as it seems.  There are two sides of the ball here, and good pitching can lead to no hitting (cough Nolan Ryan cough).  Good fielding (both in and out) can also kill any potential hits or offensive advancement.  Upon a further look at the stats from the LSU game, for example, there were a total of 5 fly-outs and 14 ground outs by the Bears.  Had any of those resulted in an LSU error (highly unlikely--they're a really good, consistent team), there would have been an increase in offensive efficacy.

That said, there is absolutely an inconsistency in hitting.  Some of that comes from the fact that players are human and humans don't always have awesome nights at the plate.  There's almost always someone having a mediocre night hitting, but during these particular games, most of the guys at the plate seem to have rough nights.  One guy is able to get on somehow, but ends up abandoned because the others at bat can't produce.  That inconsistency between players, while expected, is killer when you're facing tough teams.  That inconsistency can lose you games.

Additionally, Baylor has done incredibly well of late across the board athletically.  At this point, it's expected for Baylor teams to have winning records most of the time, and when they don't, it's shameful.  I beg of you, please stop bashing these teams who're playing as hard as they can and work their tails off for a marathon of a season.  (Which baseball season is...starts in February and goes nonstop until May, after finals.)  Criticism is good!  But giving up on a season halfway through is just ludicrous.  (Especially baseball, because it's just such a dynamic sport.  You win some, you lose some, but so long as you win more than you lose, you're doing well.  That's baseball.)  Rejoice in the wins, and kindly criticize the losses.  It's baseball: expect the unexpected.

Support your Baylor athletes, folks!  They're working hard and love this university as much as the rest of us.

On Coach Smith

Folks are calling for Coach Smith's job.  Is it time for him to leave?

I, for one, do not understand most of what Coach Smith does.  When the team is down by a significant amount, he puts in a pitcher with a 36 ERA, instead of putting in a pitcher with a 4.0 or 5.0 ERA.  Were I coaching and down by a significant amount, I'd want to minimize the run differential and minimize the damage.  Smith, however, usually puts in an inexperienced pitcher and we end up losing even worse than we were originally.  The experience, however, is crucial for younger Baylor pitchers, who are able to pitch in D1 college games and gain good game experience against great hitters.  It's valuable playing time and great teaching time.  (In fact, it's similar to how Briles puts in the second and third string in the 4th quarters when the football team is up by a lot.)  Does the score look nice?  Nope.  Do I think he should change his ways?  It depends.  If the game is truly gone, and the outcome is relatively set, then by all means, use that garbage time for different pitchers.  But if things start going south, abort mission.  There is method to his madness.

Recruiting has been another major point of contention.  I will be the first to admit I know next to nothing about baseball recruiting.  I know that Jonathan Ducoff was a highly touted recruit and has already made a great impact during his time on the field.  The Big XII Championship won in 2012 can't hurt recruiting either, but are the two seasons in the meantime hurting prospects?  I don't honestly know the answer to this question.  I think (and this is only my opinion) that Smith isn't recruiting as well as he did in the past.

Do I think Smith is at Baylor to stay for a while longer?  Yes.  My prognostication is that Smith will stay in Waco at least until his son Case graduates from the program in 3 years.  I trust Coach Smith, even though I don't understand the methods to his madness all the time, and I think he still knows what he's doing, even if he is on the way out.  Should we be calling for his job?  Probably not, but hey, there are still people who believe Scott Drew can't coach.

TL;DR

Please be nice.

Bonus!

Here's the Extra Bases video from the OU series a couple weekends back.  These are probably my favorite part of baseball games, to be perfectly frank.

Thanks for bearing with me through the massive paragraphs.  Again, those are just my opinions and I am by no means an expert, so feel free to disagree with me.

Additionally, the team grabbed a win last night against UTA!  That recap will be in next week's set.

Finally, the Bears head to Lubbock this weekend for a series at Tech.  Sic 'em, and feed that beaver!

--XOXO, KimboSmash