Ah, mid-May. The flowers are blooming, and every college student across the nation breathes a sigh of relief. Finals are over, and it's sweet summertime. Unless you play baseball. That's right folks, it's time for postseason baseball! This week, the Bears head to the Big XII Tournament in Tulsa, where their only chance for survival into the NCAA tournament come with winning the entire tourney. But more on that in a second.
First, let's recap this week in Baylor Baseball.
After a week off for finals, the Bears returned to Baylor Ballpark to take on the Roadrunners. After dropping the first of this matchup on the road in San Antonio several weeks prior, the Bears were eager to snag a win.
Pitching wasn't quite the same as it was pre-finals. In fact, it was better. Nick Lewis and Daniel Castano both allowed UTSA to score their 3 runs (although neither of Castano's credited runs were earned), and the pitching staff accumulated 10 hits, 4 walks, and 13 strikeouts. Daniel Castano had a particularly wobbly night on the mound, throwing both a wild pitch and hitting a batter. He, however, took the win for the evening, and Sean Spicer took the save for his efforts at close.
Hitting continued its pattern of inconsistency. During the entirety of the game, there were only 7 hits (UTSA had 10), and 11 runners were left on base. Ducoff hit a double, but that was the most impressive Baylor hit of the evening. Despite the inability to be particularly prolific, the runs scored kept the momentum going for the Bears, ultimately leading to the win.
Final Line: Baylor 4, UTSA 3
Photos are here. (Pitchers make hilarious faces, and Duncan Wendel is basically Gumby.)
Pitching was less stellar than it had been previously. Texas was allowed 4 homers (all solo) during the entirety of the game, and it is a testament to hitting (which was much improved) that this game wasn't a total blowout. That said, this was a bad night for Spicer during a crucial moment. He took over for Theron Kay, who allowed one run on a walk in the 8th. Spicer also faced two batters in the 9th and allowed the game-winning, back-to-back homers to Texas. He took the loss. The pitching staff accumulated 5 strikeouts, 6 walks, 2 wild pitches, and 13 hits during the game.
Hitting was way better, and kept the Bears in the game. Kameron Esthay hit a homer in the 2nd to tie up the game, his fourth of the season. There were 12 hits, and aided by the 5 Texas errors, the Bears were able to capitalize, scoring 2 unearned runs due to those errors. However, there were also 3 errors for the Bears, all of which came on defense (2 fielding, 1 throwing). The efficacy of hitting also increased greatly, as only 9 were left on base.
B2: Kameron Esthay tied the game with a solo HOMER to start 2nd inning! BU 1, UT 1. #SicUT #ItDidntEsthayInThePark pic.twitter.com/FtH8XlD6of— Baylor Baseball (@BaylorBaseball) May 16, 2015
Final Line: Texas 6, Baylor 5
It was Senior Day at the Ballpark. These seniors have really come into their own this season and led a group of younguns remarkably well. They were finishing up their freshman season during the Year of the Bear, when they won the Big XII Championship. Fling your green and gold afar, seniors! And, to quote Samuel Palmer Brooks, to you seniors of the future, to you I hand the torch.
Very thankful for & proud of what this group of seniors has done for the program on & off the field. #SicEm pic.twitter.com/HUhKxpuAjJ— Baylor Baseball (@BaylorBaseball) May 17, 2015
So anyway, back to baseball....
Hitting this game was absolutely EN FUEGO. (That's "on fire" in Spanish, for those of y'all who don't spanglish.) Most notably, in the 8th, Mitch Price and Darryn Sheppard hit back-to-back homers, the first since the 2012 season. Price also doubled in the 4th, batting in 2 runners. There were only 6 left on base all game, and there were a total of 9 hits.
B4: Big 2-run double by Mitch Price to score Duncan Wendel after BB & Kameron Esthay after 1B! BU 3, UT 1. #SicUT pic.twitter.com/vwsI6iLVAO— Baylor Baseball (@BaylorBaseball) May 17, 2015
B8: Mitch Price launches a 2-run HOMER! Scored Wendel after leadoff single. BU 6, UT 1. #SicUT pic.twitter.com/RIm7v5APww— Baylor Baseball (@BaylorBaseball) May 17, 2015
B8: Darryn Sheppard makes it back-to-back HOMERS for Bears! BU 7, UT 1. #SicUT #SheppYard pic.twitter.com/lVJ5xxVk7S— Baylor Baseball (@BaylorBaseball) May 17, 2015
Pitching was equally good this game. In 5 innings, Nick Lewis allowed 1 run, 5 hits and 6 walks while also garnering 5 strikeouts. Kody Hessemer followed him, walking 2 and garnering 4 strikeouts, while allowing 2 hits. While Lewis obviously needs refinement (he threw 107 pitches in 5 innings), he has great potential.
Final Line: Baylor 7, Texas 1
T3: Heck of a catch by Adam Toth in RF to rob possible HR/2B to help Lewis escape jam. #SCtop10 #SicUT pic.twitter.com/O0oRkX91BS— Baylor Baseball (@BaylorBaseball) May 17, 2015
Also, Adam Toth is a beast.
The fatigue of playing 3 games in 2 days was too much. This game was a mess. That's really all I have to say about it.
Final Line: Texas 11, Baylor 1
Big XII Championship Preview!
So, the Bears take on first seed TCU tomorrow at 12:30 in Tulsa.
#Big12BSB: Seeds and game times for the @Phillips66Gas Baseball Championship are set - http://t.co/V8j1T3LKWR pic.twitter.com/HXwlb7zHIl— Big 12 Conference (@Big12Conference) May 18, 2015
TCU leads the Big XII in team batting average, with .289, as well as ERA, with 2.22. By comparison, Baylor is 8th in both, with .260 and 4.82, respectively.
Be on the lookout for Cody Jones, who has an average of .364 in 198 at bats. He's hit 4 homers all season, and batted in 27 runners, as well as scoring 48 runs in 52 games. Connor Wanhanen is also a hitting leader for TCU, with an average of .346. TCU also has a great pitching staff, notably Alex Young, Mitchell Traver, and Preston Morrison. Finally, TCU leads in fielding percentage, with .978, while Baylor holds down the fort in last with a percentage of .960.
Long story short, I will be very surprised if Baylor wins this game. It appears to be a David and Goliath matchup, and I'm not entirely sure our slingshot is functional at the moment. Merely looking at the numbers, it's likely that this will be one of Baylor's last games of 2015, but hey. This is baseball. You never know what you're going to get, and if there's anything I've learned this season, it's that this team is full of surprises.