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Last Edition of Bracketology
10:00 A.M. MONDAY, MAY 31, 2010

DAVID KAYE

We're about 90 minutes away from today's NCAA Division I Baseball Championship selection show. The Bears will find out where they'll be headed for their 11th regional in 13 years during the 30-minute show on ESPN.

With that in mind, let's take a look at the final projections from various web sites around the country.

Aaron Fitt of Baseball America projects the following, while also saying that Baylor is the first No. 3 seed (meaning the Bears are right on the edge of being a No. 2 seed):

ATLANTA, GA. REGIONAL
1. Georgia Tech (No. 8 national seed)
2. Alabama
3. Baylor
4. Jacksonville State

Jeremy Mills of ESPNU sees the Bears renewing an old Southwest Conference rivalry:

FAYETTEVILLE, ARK. REGIONAL
1. Arkansas
2. Baylor
3. North Carolina State
4. St. Louis

Kendall Rogers of Yahoo! Sports NCAA Baseball agrees with Mills' assessment, but has the Bears seeded third:

FAYETTEVILLE, ARK. REGIONAL
1. Arkansas
2. Washington State
3. Baylor
4. Oral Roberts

Mark Rafferty of The College Baseball Blog thinks Baylor is headed to the Bluegrass State:

LOUISVILLE, KY. REGIONAL
1. Louisville (No. 7 national seed)
2. Oregon
3. Baylor
4. St. Louis

Mark Etheridge of SEBaseball.com has the Bears heading north on I-35:

FORT WORTH, TEXAS REGIONAL
1. Texas Christian
2. Rice
3. Baylor
4. Lamar

Last but not least, Ping! Baseball sees the Bears traveling west to renew a regional rivalry:

TEMPE, AZ. REGIONAL
1. Arizona State (No. 1 national seed)
2. New Mexico
3. Baylor
4. Bucknell

That's all for now, but don't forget to follow The Kaye Zone on Twitter.

Sic em. 


Big 12 Championship Rewind
9:55 P.M. SUNDAY, MAY 30, 2010

DAVID KAYE

It's time to take a deep breath and think back on where the Bears were a few weeks ago. After being swept in three close games against top-ranked Texas, Baylor sat at 7-12 in Big 12 play, sitting on the wrong side of the NCAA tournament bubble in every national projection.

With two Big 12 series remaining (and one of those in Lubbock, where Baylor hadn't won a series since 1998), we knew the Bears would need to start playing really well to make late run at the program's 11th NCAA tournament bid in the last 13 years. Consider it done.

Baylor closed the regular season with wins in six of its last seven games, leading us to think it needed just one more win in the Big 12 Championship to secure an at-large bid. We figured two would almost certainly be enough, but the Bears removed any doubt by sweeping their pool before dropping an extra-inning heartbreaker in the title game.

That game hurt. The Bears got one of the best starting pitching performances in a postseason game in program history, and it would've been hard to script a better scenario than having a 3-0 lead with six outs remaining and Logan Verrett and Brooks Pinckard available out of the bullpen. But, baseball can be a cruel game, and the Bears just couldn't hold on.

As much as it hurts to say this, you have to give credit to Texas Agrilcultural & Mechanical. The Aggies are playing really well right now, and their late comeback just makes Willie Kempf's dominating performance look even more impressive. If the Bears had been able to get those last six outs, Kempf would've been the tournament's Most Outstanding Player and the Bears would've gone home with a trophy and a ring. It could've been a great end for a deserving senior class, but there's one problem with that - it's not the end.

Ask anyone on the Bears' roster, and we're willing to bet they would all trade a Big 12 Championship title for a Regional crown. The way the Bears are playing right now, it would be crazy to count them out, no matter where they get sent tomorrow. One last if ... if the Bears had won Sunday, they would have the fourth-longest active winning streak in the nation heading into the NCAA tournament. One extra-inning loss shouldn't diminish the Bears' late-season charge.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK

Raynor Campbell, Senior, 2B, Katy, Texas (Taylor HS)
Hit .533 (8-for-15) with two doubles, a home run, four RBI and three runs scored during the Big 12 Championship ... Had multiple hits in each of Baylor's four games at the tournament ... Was named to Big 12 Championships all-tournament team ... Homered and singled in four at-bat against Kansas State in the Bears' first game of the tournament ... Went 2-for-3 with a double, walk, two runs and two RBI as Baylor won its pool with a win over 12th-ranked Oklahoma on Friday ... Had two-out, two-run single that put the Bears on top for good in the third inning against the Sooners ... Singled twice in final game of pool play against Kansas ... Went 2-for-4 with a double and one RBI in title game against Texas A&M.

PITCHER OF THE WEEK

Willie Kempf, Senior, RHP, Castroville, Texas (Medina Valley HS)
Went 1-0 with a 0.77 ERA in 11.2 innings over two appearances at Big 12 Championship ... Left Sunday's title game in line for the win with a 3-1 lead ... Struck out seven and walked just one while holding opposing hitters to a .150 batting average ... Came out of Baylor bullpen and worked 4.1 innings of one-hit shutout relief to earn the win as Baylor knocked off Kansas State in their first game of the tournament ... Started title game against Texas A&M and held Aggies to one run on five hits with no walks and five strikeouts in a career-long-tying 7.1 innings ... Faced just one batter over the minimum through his first six innings of work in title game ... Ran consecutive scoreless innings streak to 20.1 before Texas A&M scored with one out in the eighth ... Became first Baylor pitcher since Jake Weghorst in 2006 and 2007 to record a string of 20 or more consecutive scoreless innings.

Here are some notes from the Big 12 Championship:
  • If Baylor earns an at-large regional bid on Monday, it will be the 11th time in the last 13 seasons that the Bears have gone to the NCAA tournament.
  • The Bears got revenge on the three teams in their pool at the Big 12 Championship. Baylor had lost its only game of the season to Oklahoma, was swept by Kansas State and lost two of three to Kansas, but the Bears beat all three teams in the tournament. Ironically, Baylor won two of three in its series with Texas A&M in the regular season, but the Bears lost the Aggies in the title game.
  • Baylor built a season-long eight-game winning streak before dropping the Big 12 Championship title game in 10 innings on Sunday. It was the longest winning streak that started in May in program history.
  • All eight of Baylor's runs against Oklahoma scored with two outs. The Bears were 7-for-13 batting with two outs in the game.
  • Baylor made its sixth Big 12 Championship title game appearance, tying it with Nebraska for the most in league history.
  • Baylor tied a Big 12 tournament record by turning four double plays in its game against Kansas on
  • The Baylor pitching staff has held its opponents to five or fewer runs in 15 of its last 17 games.
  • Baylor's bullpen is now 20-6 with 18 saves and a 3.31 ERA. The Bears' relief corps has struck out 191 in 231.1 innings and is holding opposing hitters to a .257 batting average.
  • Baylor is one of only two Big 12 teams that ranks in the top four in the conference in both hitting (.309 batting average - fourth) and pitching (3.93 ERA - fourth). Baylor's pitching staff has the Big 12's second-best ERA in conference play at 3.90.
  • Baylor became the first team in Big 12 tournament history to sweep its pool twice. The Bears also swept their pool in 2007, and this season's sweep marked just the fifth time a team has swept its pool.
  • Baylor finished the regular season with wins in 15 of its last 17 non-conference games
  • Baylor won five of its eight Big 12 series this season, including road series wins at Missouri and Texas Tech. The Bears won seven out of 10 series during the season.
  • The Bears are 22-4 in their last 26 games at Baylor Ballpark.
  • Baylor's pitchers had held Big 12 opponents to six runs or less in 16 straight conference games before giving up seven runs on Saturday.
  • Baylor and Oklahoma are the only two teams from the Big 12 to qualify for every Big 12 tournament.
  • Baylor's four home runs on Wednesday were its second-most in a game this season.
  • Willie Kempf (starting pitcher), Logan Vick (outfielder) and Raynor Campbell (second baseman) were named to the all-tournament team, tying Baylor with Texas A&M for the most selections. Landis Ware (shortstop) was left off the team after hitting two home runs and collecting eight RBI.
  • Kempf notched his eighth win of the season with 4.1 innings of one-hit, shutout relief in the Bears' tournament opener against Kansas State. Kempf became the first Baylor pitcher to win eight games in a season since 2005.
  • Kempf ran his scoreless innings streak to 20.1 before giving up a run in the eighth inning of his start in the title game on Sunday. He became the first Baylor pitcher with a 20+ inning scoreless streak since Jake Weghorst went 28.0 consecutive scoreless innings during the 2006 and 2007 seasons.
  • Vick now has 54 walks on the season - one short of Jon Topolski's program record of 55 that was set in 1999.
  • Vick homered twice on Wednesday against Kansas State, giving him 10 on the year. Vick would've set a new program record for home runs by a freshman, but fellow freshman Max Muncy has 11 longballs this season.
  • Vick has reached base safely with a hit or a walk in 21 straight games. He started the season with a 33-game on-base streak, and has reached safely in 54 of Baylor's 56 games this year.
  • Muncy is now one RBI from tying the Baylor freshman record (Michael Griffin has 50 in 2002).
  • Vick's tournament debut was a strong one, as he went 3-for-3 with two home runs, a double and three walks to reach base safely in all six plate appearances against Kansas State. He also drove in three runs and scored three times.
  • Craig Fritsch notched his second win in less than a week when he held 12th-ranked Oklahoma to three runs in 5.0 innings on Friday.
  • Ware tied a program record for RBI in a Big 12 tournament game when he drove in four against Kansas State. Ware followed that performance with four more RBI against Kansas, marking the ninth time a Baylor player has driven in four runs in a Big 12 tournament game. He joins Shaver Hansen as the only players to do it twice.
  • Logan Verrett's streak of consecutive outings going at least 7.0 innings came to an end when he had to come out of Wednesday's game after a two hour and 54 minute rain delay.
  • Verrett came back two days later and worked 4.0 innings of relief to notch his first save of the season and clinch Baylor's spot in the title game with a win over No. 12 Oklahoma.
  • Joey Hainsfurther became the eighth different Baylor pitcher to record a save this season when he pitched 2.2 innings of shutout relief to close out Saturday's win against Kansas.
  • Brooks Pinckard reached on his 10th bunt single of the season in Friday's game against Oklahoma, giving him the most by a Baylor player since Campbell had 12 during the 2007 season. Pinckard also stole his 18th base of the season, giving him the most by a Baylor player since Seth Fortenberry stole 22 in 2006.

That's all for now, but don't forget to follow The Kaye Zone on Twitter.

Sic em. 


Bricktown Schedule Finalized
7:30 P.M. SUNDAY, MAY 23, 2010

DAVID KAYE

Baylor completed its sweep of Oklahoma State on Sunday to lock up the No. 6 seed in the Big 12 Baseball Championships. It was the Bears' first Big 12 series sweep since finishing off Kansas on April 6, 2008, and it couldn't have come at a better time.

Four of this weekend's five Big 12 series resulted in sweeps. In addition to Oklahoma State being swept by Baylor, Kansas was swept at home by Oklahoma, Missouri was swept at home by Texas and Texas Tech was swept at Nebraska. Two of those were huge for the Bears.

Though Baylor ends the regular season with the No. 6 seed, both the Bears and Texas Tech finished one game under .500, so they're pretty even. When comparing NCAA tournament resumes, Baylor's is stronger than Texas Tech's because of the series win in Lubbock, and because the Bears have won six of their last seven games while the Red Raiders have lost five of their last six.

Kendall Rogers of Yahoo! Sports NCAA Baseball said Texas Tech and Kansas both lost almost all hope of earning at-large berths into the NCAA tournament, and that means Baylor is the Big 12's best candidate for a fifth team. We have yet to see a projection that says the Big 12 will get fewer than five teams into the tournament field.

The Bears still need to take care of business in Oklahoma City. One win should be enough, and two will almost definitely be enough, but the only way to be absolutely sure the Bears' season continues after the Big 12 tournament is to win it.

Here is the schedule for the Big 12 Championship:

Wednesday:
No. 4 Texas A&M vs. No. 5 Texas Tech, 9 a.m.
No. 1 Texas vs. No. 8 Missouri, 12:30 p.m.
No. 3 Kansas State vs. No. 6 Baylor, 4 p.m.
No. 2 Oklahoma vs. No. 7 Kansas, 7:30 p.m.

Thursday:
No. 1 Texas vs. No. 5 Texas Tech, 3 p.m.
No. 4 Texas A&M vs. No. 8 Missouri, 7:30 p.m.

Friday:
No. 3 Kansas State vs. No. 7 Kansas, 3 p.m.
No. 2 Oklahoma vs. No. 6 Baylor, 7:30 p.m.

Saturday:
No. 5 Texas Tech vs. No. 8 Missouri, 9 a.m.
No. 1 Texas vs. No. 4 Texas A&M, 12:30 p.m.
No. 2 Oklahoma vs. No. 3 Kansas State, 4 p.m.
No. 6 Baylor vs. No. 7 Kansas, 7:30 p.m.

Sunday:
Championship Game - teams TBD, 1 p.m.

That's all for now, but don't forget to follow The Kaye Zone on Twitter.

Sic em. 


Baseball's Competition in Bricktown
10:00 P.M. SATURDAY, MAY 22, 2010

DAVID KAYE

It's amazing how much one game can change things. Kansas was up three runs against Oklahoma heading to the ninth inning, but the Sooners rallied for four and then escaped a jam in the bottom of the ninth to get the win. We owe you Oklahoma.

Not only did the Sooners' win move the Bears into sixth place in the conference standings, it also cleared up which teams will play in each pool. Six of the eight seeds are still to be determined, but both pools are perfectly clear. Baylor will be in the same group as Kansas, Kansas State and Oklahoma. The other pool will consist of Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech and Missouri.

Now that we have that out of the way, let's look at how the remaining six seeds will be determined:

  • Baylor enters Sunday's game in sixth place will be the No. 6 seed in the tournament unless it loses to Oklahoma State AND Kansas beats Oklahoma on Sunday. If both of those things happen, Kansas will be the No. 6 seed and Baylor would be No. 7.
  • Oklahoma enters Sunday's game in second place and will be the No. 2 seed in the tournament unless it loses to Kansas AND Kansas State wins at Texas A&M on Sunday. If both of those things happen, Oklahoma will be the No. 3 seed and Kansas State will be No. 2.
  • Texas A&M enters Sunday's game in fourth place and will be the No. 4 seed in the tournament unless it loses to Kansas State AND Texas Tech wins at Nebraska. If both of those things happen, Texas Tech will be the No. 4 seed and Texas A&M will be No. 5.

  • There are just five teams Baylor can't jump in the standings:

    • Texas - the Longhorns have locked up the No. 1 seed.

    • Kansas State - Baylor can finish 1.5 games behind the Wildcats.

    • Texas Tech - the Bears and Red Raiders could both end up one game below .500, but because Baylor didn't get to play two games at Oklahoma, the Red Raiders would have a higher winning percentage at 13-14, placing them higher in the standings.

    • Oklahoma - the Sooners are two games up on the Bears.

    • Texas A&M - the Aggies win on Saturday guaranteed they'll finish at least a half game ahead of Baylor, which makes that cancelled game at Oklahoma when the Bears were winning 5-0 all the more important. If Baylor had won that game, and the Bears and Aggies finished tied in the standings, Baylor would hold the tie-breaker since it won the series against A&M.

We said it before that we were hoping Baylor would finish sixth or seventh. That's exactly what has happened. While the Bears are just 1-6 against the teams in their pool, there's a lot more to the story. Let's look at each of Baylor's opponents:

Oklahoma - we're going to continue to beat this dead horse ... Baylor outscored the Sooners 11-7 in their series, but the Bears went home with an 0-1 record because the second game was cancelled with Baylor leading 5-0. Add in that the games were on Oklahoma's home field, and this seems like a pretty even matchup. However, the tournament is played in Oklahoma City, so Oklahoma will be playing in front of many of their fans. On the plus side, Baylor will get to play in the bigger crowds of the tournament by being in the pool that will play the last two games on the four-game days.

Kansas State - obviously, the numbers show that Kansas State was a better team in this one. The Wildcats swept the Bears by scores of 5-2, 5-2 and 3-2. However, Baylor was playing Kansas State when the Wildcats were playing their best baseball of the season, and they were also playing on the Wildcats' home field. The Bears are perfectly capable of beating Kansas State, especially when they're not playing on the crazy surface that is a turf infield with a grass outfield. Kansas State is 21-6 at home and 7-9 on the road, but the Wildcats have a 7-2 record in neutral site games.

Kansas - the Jayhawks took two of three from the Bears at Baylor Ballpark, but this series was a perfect example of why sometimes a series win is overvalued. The deciding game went 14 innings, so it was about as close as any series can be. Brett Bochy got the win in that deciding game after throwing 4.0 innings of perfect relief, but the Jayhawks will be without their closer in Bricktown - he had Tommy John surgery a week after playing in Waco.

If nothing else, this tournament will be a good chance for the Bears to redeem themselves against teams they have losing records against this season. Baylor has won five of its eight Big 12 series, and the Bears get another shot at two teams who beat them in series, while the other team in the pool won the only game the teams played by one run. It should be interesting. We hope to see you in Bricktown.

That's all for now, but don't forget to follow The Kaye Zone on Twitter.

Sic em. 


Baseball is Heading to Bricktown. Now What?
1:00 P.M. SATURDAY, MAY 22, 2010

DAVID KAYE

Last night's dramatic ninth-inning rally not only clinched Baylor's spot in next week's Big 12 Baseball Championship, it also moved the Bears into seventh place in the Big 12 standings.

This time of year is so much fun for fans because the entertainment doesn't end after their team plays. There's still the chance to do some scoreboard watching. Baylor's win last night was especially important because the Bears got the result they were looking for in each of the four remaining Big 12 games.

Kansas State rallied to beat Texas A&M 8-7 in 10 innings, keeping the Bears hopes of catching the Aggies alive. Oklahoma beat Kansas, bringing the Bears within a half game of the Jayhawks. Texas beat Missouri, moving Baylor a half game ahead of the Tigers and into seventh place. Last, but not least, Nebraska pulled off a nice win against Texas Tech, helping the Bears' regional hopes.

The fourth game is debatable, because the Bears technically can't catch Texas Tech in the Big 12 standings. However, Baylor can finish one game below .500, as can the Red Raiders, so Texas Tech would only be ahead of Baylor based on percentage points (they'll have played two more games). Combine that with Baylor's series win in Lubbock last weekend, and if it comes down to Texas Tech and Baylor for the last regional bid out of the Big 12 Conference, there's a good chance it goes to the Bears if that scenario unfolds.

Again, it's debatable. Texas Tech dropped to 51 in the RPI with its loss, and that technically hurts the Bears because one of the things the tournament committee looks at is record against the RPI top 50. Still, if things fall the Bears' way this weekend, they could finish in a virtual tie for fourth place in the league, and if that's the case, they're in good shape heading to Bricktown.

Now that we have that out of the way, let's reexamine the possible scenarios:

  • Baylor enters Saturday's game in seventh, but the Bears can finish as high as fifth or as low as eighth in the league standings. If Baylor wins the next two games Oklahoma State, the Bears can jump ahead of each of the following teams in the standings:

    • Kansas - if the Jayhawks lose one of the next two games in their home series against Oklahoma. This would be big for the Bears, as Baylor and Kansas are both fighting to get off the proverbial bubble. Oklahoma is trying to make a late run at a regional host site, and another win would really help its cause, so the Sooners have plenty to play for.
    • Texas A&M - if the Aggies lose the two remaining games of their series at home against Kansas State. The Wildcats are a solid team, but it's going to be tough for anyone to win all three games at A&M. Before Friday's loss, the Aggies had won seven straight games overall and they still haven't lost three straight at home all season.
  • Baylor can still finish in sixth place if it splits the next two games against the Cowboys. The Bears can finish ahead of the following teams:

    • Missouri - if the Tigers lose one more game against Texas. Even if the third game of the series is cancelled, the Bears would finish with the same record as Missouri and have the tie-breaker due to the series win in Columbia.

    • Kansas - if Oklahoma wins the two remaining games against the Jayhawks in Kansas.

  • If Baylor loses the next two games, the Bears can still finish seventh if Texas and Missouri play at least two games and Texas wins every game of the series.

  • There are still just four teams Baylor can't jump in the standings:

    • Texas - the Longhorns have locked up the No. 1 seed.

    • Kansas State - Baylor can finish 1.5 games behind the Wildcats.

    • Texas Tech - the Bears and Red Raiders could both end up one game below .500, but because Baylor didn't get to play two games at Oklahoma, the Red Raiders would have a higher winning percentage at 13-14, placing them higher in the standings.

    • Oklahoma - the Sooners could end up one game ahead of the Bears, making that game that was called with Baylor leading 5-0 against OU all the more painful.

As we noted before, it's important for the Bears to finish sixth or seventh, because in pool play the eighth seed will open against Texas, while the No. 6 and 7 seeds wouldn't have to play the Longhorns until the championship game, if at all.

The Bears showed that they can hang with Texas when they lost in 10 and 14 innings against the Longhorns, but when one team enters the final weekend 7.5 games ahead of everyone else in the league, you would like to avoid them. On the flip side, if the Bears did play Texas in the first round and were able to beat the Longhorns, that would do more for their NCAA tournament resume than any other win in the tournament.

We'll reexamine the scenarios after Saturday's game. That's all for now, but don't forget to follow The Kaye Zone on Twitter.

Sic em. 


Baseball's Big 12 Tournament Scenarios
5:00 P.M. WEDNESDAY, MAY 19, 2010

DAVID KAYE

We're finally at the point in the season where we can narrow it down to a few different scenarios that could play out. However, there are only two things that have been set in stone in the Big 12 race, and they just so happen to be at the top and the bottom.

Texas has already clinched first place in the conference, and while Nebraska hasn't locked up 10th place, there is no way the Cornhuskers can advance to the Big 12 tournament. Everything else is subject to change.

Here's one thing we know for sure - when Baylor and Oklahoma State play at Baylor Ballpark this weekend, the teams will be playing with the last spot in next week's Big 12 Championship on the line. But, that doesn't mean they're playing for eighth place. Though it's unlikely, it's still possible Baylor could finish as high as fifth place in the league standings.

Now that we have that out of the way, let's jump into each possible scenario and examine the probabilities:

  • Baylor needs one win to qualify for the Big 12 tournament, while Oklahoma State would get in if the Cowboys were able to sweep the Bears. There's no way both teams get in.
  • Baylor enters the weekend in eighth, but the Bears can finish as high as fifth in the league standings. If Baylor sweeps Oklahoma State, the Bears can jump ahead of each of the following teams in the standings:

    • Missouri - if the Tigers drop one game or have a game cancelled against Texas. The Longhorns haven't been swept all season and have lost only three times in 24 Big 12 games, so even with Texas already having the No. 1 seed locked up, it's unlikely Missouri could pull off a sweep.

    • Kansas - if the Jayhawks lose their home series against Oklahoma. This would be big for the Bears, as Baylor and Kansas are both fighting to get off the proverbial bubble. Oklahoma is trying to make a late run at a regional host site, so don't count the Sooners out.

    • Texas A&M - if the Aggies lose all three games of their series at home against Kansas State. The Wildcats are a solid team, but it's going to be tough for anyone to win all three games at A&M. The Aggies have won seven straight games overall and haven't lost three straight at home all season.
  • Baylor can still finish in sixth place by taking two of three against the Cowboys. If the Bears take two of three, they can move ahead of the following teams in the standings:

    • Missouri - if the Tigers don't win their series against Texas. Even if the teams split two games and have the third game cancelled, the Bears would finish with the same record as Missouri and have the tie-breaker due to the series win in Columbia.

    • Kansas - if Oklahoma sweeps the Jayhawks in Kansas.

  • If Baylor wins just one game against Oklahoma State, the Bears can still finish seventh if Texas and Missouri play at least two games and Texas wins every game of the series.

  • There are four teams Baylor can't jump in the standings:

    • Texas - the Longhorns have locked up the No. 1 seed.

    • Kansas State - Baylor can finish half a game behind the Wildcats.

    • Texas Tech - the Bears and Red Raiders could both end up one game below .500, but because Baylor didn't get to play two games at Oklahoma, the Red Raiders would have a higher winning percentage at 13-14, placing them higher in the standings.

    • Oklahoma - the Bears and Sooners could end up with identical Big 12 records, but Oklahoma would hold the tie-breaker since the Sooners won the only game of the series between the two teams.

Basically, the Bears control their own destiny as far as getting into the tournament, but anything better than an eighth-place finish will require some help. Not getting to finish the second game at Oklahoma could prove costly to the Bears. It's not often that you can outscore a team (Baylor 11, Oklahoma 7) and lose the tie-breaker because the other team won the only game played in the series.

Obviously, the Sooners outscored Baylor 7-6 officially, but we all know the Bears were ahead 5-0 when the second game was whiped out by rain and snow.

Last but not least, a little on why the seedings matters. First of all, only Texas, Oklahoma and Texas A&M have likely locked up regional bids. Kansas State, Kansas, Baylor and Texas Tech are all fighting for what will likely be the fourth, fifth and sixth regional bids awarded to Big 12 teams.

It's also important to note that because of pool play, the eighth seed will open against Texas, while the No. 6 and 7 seeds wouldn't have to play the Longhorns until the championship game, if at all.

The Bears showed that they can hang with Texas when they lost in 10 and 14 innings against the Longhorns, but when one team enters the final weekend 7.5 games ahead of everyone else in the league, you would like to avoid them. On the flip side, if the Bears did play Texas in the first round and were able to beat the Longhorns, that would do more for their NCAA tournament resume than any other win in the tournament.

Still, most Baylor fans would probably prefer to get the sixth or seventh seed, if for no other reason than because it might look better on an NCAA tournament resume when the committee is deciding which five, six or seven Big 12 teams to take.

That's all for now, but don't forget to follow The Kaye Zone on Twitter.

Sic em. 


Baseball's Big 12 Tournament Scenarios
5:00 P.M. WEDNESDAY, MAY 19, 2010

DAVID KAYE

We're finally at the point in the season where we can narrow it down to a few different scenarios that could play out. However, there are only two things that have been set in stone in the Big 12 race, and they just so happen to be at the top and the bottom.

Texas has already clinched first place in the conference, and while Nebraska hasn't locked up 10th place, there is no way the Cornhuskers can advance to the Big 12 tournament. Everything else is subject to change.

Here's one thing we know for sure - when Baylor and Oklahoma State play at Baylor Ballpark this weekend, the teams will be playing with the last spot in next week's Big 12 Championship on the line. But, that doesn't mean they're playing for eighth place. Though it's unlikely, it's still possible Baylor could finish as high as fifth place in the league standings.

Now that we have that out of the way, let's jump into each possible scenario and examine the probabilities:

  • Baylor needs one win to qualify for the Big 12 tournament, while Oklahoma State would get in if the Cowboys were able to sweep the Bears. There's no way both teams get in.
  • Baylor enters the weekend in eighth, but the Bears can finish as high as fifth in the league standings. If Baylor sweeps Oklahoma State, the Bears can jump ahead of each of the following teams in the standings:

    • Missouri - if the Tigers drop one game or have a game cancelled against Texas. The Longhorns haven't been swept all season and have lost only three times in 24 Big 12 games, so even with Texas already having the No. 1 seed locked up, it's unlikely Missouri could pull off a sweep.

    • Kansas - if the Jayhawks lose their home series against Oklahoma. This would be big for the Bears, as Baylor and Kansas are both fighting to get off the proverbial bubble. Oklahoma is trying to make a late run at a regional host site, so don't count the Sooners out.

    • Texas A&M - if the Aggies lose all three games of their series at home against Kansas State. The Wildcats are a solid team, but it's going to be tough for anyone to win all three games at A&M. The Aggies have won seven straight games overall and haven't lost three straight at home all season.
  • Baylor can still finish in sixth place by taking two of three against the Cowboys. If the Bears take two of three, they can move ahead of the following teams in the standings:

    • Missouri - if the Tigers don't win their series against Texas. Even if the teams split two games and have the third game cancelled, the Bears would finish with the same record as Missouri and have the tie-breaker due to the series win in Columbia.

    • Kansas - if Oklahoma sweeps the Jayhawks in Kansas.

  • If Baylor wins just one game against Oklahoma State, the Bears can still finish seventh if Texas and Missouri play at least two games and Texas wins every game of the series.

  • There are four teams Baylor can't jump in the standings:

    • Texas - the Longhorns have locked up the No. 1 seed.

    • Kansas State - Baylor can finish half a game behind the Wildcats.

    • Texas Tech - the Bears and Red Raiders could both end up one game below .500, but because Baylor didn't get to play two games at Oklahoma, the Red Raiders would have a higher winning percentage at 13-14, placing them higher in the standings.

    • Oklahoma - the Bears and Sooners could end up with identical Big 12 records, but Oklahoma would hold the tie-breaker since the Sooners won the only game of the series between the two teams.

Basically, the Bears control their own destiny as far as getting into the tournament, but anything better than an eighth-place finish will require some help. Not getting to finish the second game at Oklahoma could prove costly to the Bears. It's not often that you can outscore a team (Baylor 11, Oklahoma 7) and lose the tie-breaker because the other team won the only game played in the series.

Obviously, the Sooners outscored Baylor 7-6 officially, but we all know the Bears were ahead 5-0 when the second game was whiped out by rain and snow.

Last but not least, a little on why the seedings matters. First of all, only Texas, Oklahoma and Texas A&M have likely locked up regional bids. Kansas State, Kansas, Baylor and Texas Tech are all fighting for what will likely be the fourth, fifth and sixth regional bids awarded to Big 12 teams.

It's also important to note that because of pool play, the eighth seed will open against Texas, while the No. 6 and 7 seeds wouldn't have to play the Longhorns until the championship game, if at all.

The Bears showed that they can hang with Texas when they lost in 10 and 14 innings against the Longhorns, but when one team enters the final weekend 7.5 games ahead of everyone else in the league, you would like to avoid them. On the flip side, if the Bears did play Texas in the first round and were able to beat the Longhorns, that would do more for their NCAA tournament resume than any other win in the tournament.

Still, most Baylor fans would probably prefer to get the sixth or seventh seed, if for no other reason than because it might look better on an NCAA tournament resume when the committee is deciding which five, six or seven Big 12 teams to take.

That's all for now, but don't forget to follow The Kaye Zone on Twitter.

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Week 12 Rewind
10:40 A.M. WEDNESDAY, MAY 19, 2010

DAVID KAYE

Baylor entered week 12 on the ropes after being swept by Texas to fall to 7-12 in Big 12 play with six conference games remaining. The Bears were No. 50 in the RPI, and nearly every projection had them on the wrong side of the NCAA tournament bubble.

Fast forward a week later, and the Bears are in better shape. There's still work to do, but the task at hand has gotten easier. Baylor needed to win its last two Big 12 series, which seemed like a daunting task considering the Bears hadn't won a series in Lubbock since 1998, and that's exactly where last week's series was played.

Baylor had gone 2-13 in its last five trips to Lubbock. If the Bears didn't win the series, we'd probably be sitting here saying they need to win the Big 12 tournament to get a regional bid. Instead, the Bears came up huge, taking two of three from the team that entered the weekend in second place in the league.

Friday's game was rained out, which was another good news/bad news situation. It set up a doubleheader on Saturday, and history has shown that it's historically difficult to win or lose both games of a doubleheader. The bad news was that it would be tough for Baylor to win both, but the good news is that a split would set up a rubber game on Sunday, and that's exactly what happened.

Logan Verrett pitched the Bears past the Red Raiders in game one, but quite a few things went against Baylor in game two. For example, Baylor looked like it had taken a lead in the first inning when Brooks Pinckard slid home on a grounder to third. Here's a picture of the play (courtesy Lubbock Avalanche-Journal). Unfortunately, Pinckard was called out on the play. While the Bears ended up losing by two runs, that play loomed large.

However, Baylor still had chances with the potential tying run in scoring position in both the eighth and ninth innings. Losing that game was tough, but coming back and winning in dominating fashion on Sunday - with their backs against the wall - said a lot about the players on this team.

It couldn't have been scripted any better that for senior catcher Gregg Glime to hit a game-winning grand slam off former USA Collegiate National Team member Chad Bettis. On top of that, Max Muncy gave the Bears some insurance runs when he got back on track with his 11th homer of the season - also off of Bettis. Unfortunately, the next pitch Bettis threw, which happened to be against Glime, was a fastball that landed in Glime's back, prompting Bettis' ejection.

Starting pitcher Craig Fritsch battled his way through 4.0 innings before turning the ball over to Josh Turley, who turned in 3.2 innings of excellent relief before Willie Kempf finished off the win. It was a great team effort to get the Bears their first series win in Lubbock since Sunday's winning pitcher, Turley, was seven years old.

Back to the Bears' regional hopes. With last night's win against Dallas Baptist, Baylor jumped six spots from No. 50 to No. 44 in the RPI, according to Boyd's World. Beating Dallas Baptist alone wasn't enough to make that kind of jump - the Bears got some help from teams ahead of them losing and teams they've played this season winning (thus improving Baylor's strength of schedule, which improves RPI ranking).

Baylor now just needs one win this weekend to secure a spot in the Big 12 Championship. If the Bears were to get swept, there's no point in discussing regional hopes, so for argument's sake, let's assume Baylor wins at least one game against Oklahoma State.

Earning a spot in the conference tournament would guarantee at least three more games against Big 12 opponents. If the Bears go 4-2 in those six games, they have a good chance for a regional berth. If they go 5-1 they're almost surely in, but if they go 3-3, it's going to be a close call.

Baylor can finish as high as fifth in the conference standings, but check back later today for a full breakdown on what needs to happen for the Bears to finish anywhere from fifth through eighth.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK

Gregg Glime, Senior, Catcher, Aurora, Colo. (Smoky Hill HS)
Hit game-winning grand slam in Sunday's series finale at Texas Tech, giving Baylor its first series win in Lubbock since 1998 ... Gave Baylor an early lead with a RBI single in the second inning, and delivered grand slam against Chad Bettis with two outs in fifth and Bears trailing 3-2 ... Also threw out the only attempted base stealer and picked off a runner in the game ... Caught all 27 innings of series, including both games of Saturday's doubleheader ... Hit RBI double in series opener ... Reached on infield single and was hit by a pitch in four plate appearances in second game ... Went 2-for-4 with two runs, five RBI and was hit by a pitch in series finale ... Threw out three of four attempted base stealers in the series, including Jamodrick McGruder, who had been successful on 22 of 25 attempts entering the weekend ... Improved to 21 of 42 attempted base stealers thrown out on the season.

PITCHER OF THE WEEK

Logan Verrett, Sophomore, RHP, Corpus Christi, Texas (Calallen HS)
Picked up fifth win of season by holding a Texas Tech offense that ranks second in the Big 12 to four hits in 7.0 innings of series opener ... Allowed just three singles and a double while striking out six and issuing just two walks ... Only earned run scored against him came in on a wild pitch ... Retired 11 straight batters after an error in the third inning ... Worked into eighth inning for third consecutive start, and pitched at least 7.0 innings for fifth straight outing ... Pitched into the seventh inning for 10th time in 11 starts this season, and struck out at least six for ninth time in last 10 starts.

Here's what local print media outlets had to say throughout the weekend:

From the Waco Tribune-Herald:
Brice Cherry - Baylor Baseball Set to Battle Texas Tech in Lubbock (Friday)
Staff Report - Baylor Baseball, Tech Split Doubleheader (Sunday)
Staff Report - Glime, Baylor Baseball Overpower Texas Tech, 12-5 (Monday)

That's all for now, but don't forget to follow The Kaye Zone on Twitter.

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Week 11 Rewind
4:15 P.M. TUESDAY, MAY 11, 2010

DAVID KAYE

It's been a long wait during the 11-day stretch without a Baylor baseball game, but with this weekend's series against Texas Tech only a few days away, it's time to take a look back at what happened during the 11th week of the Bears' season.

With five games - three of which were on the road - against a pair of teams who were ranked as high as No. 5 in the nation, we knew the 11th week would be the toughest of the season. A 2-3 record would've been respectable, while a 3-2 mark would've been huge for the Bears' postseason hopes. Both of those could've easily happened, but as it turned out, quite a few things went against the Bears on their way to a 1-4 record.

That 1-4 could've easily been switched to 4-1 with a few breaks, but if we're being honest, we should note that the Bears had a few opportunities to make their own breaks and they weren't able to do so.

The first game of the week - at TCU on Tuesday, April 27 - would turn out to be a sign of things to come. The Bears rallied from behind to take a lead to the ninth inning, only to lose a game when leading after eight innings for the first time since 2008. This year's Baylor squad hadn't lost a game when leading at any point after the sixth inning, but TCU stole a win with a run in the ninth and another in the 10th.

Baylor got its revenge and then some when the teams met again the following day at Baylor Ballpark. The Bears jumped out to an early lead and never looked back in a 14-4 drubbing that ended after eight innings due to the mercy rule. With the win, it appeared Baylor might be poised to break out of an offensive slump, but the best pitching staff in the nation was too much over the weekend.

The Bears again came from behind to take a 2-1 lead in the sixth inning of Friday night's game, but a two-out bouncer found its way through the middle of the infield in the eighth, allowing Texas to tie the game. Still, the Bears had a chance to regain the lead in the bottom half with two on and no outs, but they couldn't get a bunt down, and then Texas made a terrific defensive play to turn a RBI single into a double-play grounder. 

Texas took advantage of Baylor's missed opportunities and handed the Bears their second 10-inning loss of the week.

Saturday's game was the Bears' first nationally televised game of the season, and clearly Baylor wanted to extend its television exposure. The Bears were trailing 1-0 heading to the ninth, but Logan Vick led off with a single and came around to score the tying run to send the game to extra innings. The Baylor bullpen held Texas for the 11th straight inning in the 13th, but the Longhorns broke through to win 2-1 in the 14th.

Looking back on Saturday's game, Baylor easily could've won without the game ever going to extras. Texas got its only run before the 14th on a hit-and-run double. If the runner isn't going on the pitch, it's unlikely he scores all the way from first base. Additionally, Baylor had a chance to tie it in the sixth when Raynor Campbell doubled to right, but Landis Ware was thrown out at the plate after two perfect throws.

Sunday's game summed up the entire week, as a missed opportunity to tie or take the lead in the sixth proved to be the Bears' best chance to win the game, and Texas completed the sweep with a 4-1 win.

Logan Vick's RBI double got the Bears within one in the sixth, and with two runners in scoring position and no outs, Baylor had a chance to take a lead, but the next three Bears up struck out to end the threat.

Let's face it ... week 11 was one that we'd all like to forget. However, it's not as if the Bears were outclassed by their opponents. Three extra-inning losses show that this Baylor team can compete with anyone, but it's just a matter of coming through at the right time to turn an extra-inning loss into a win. There's no better time than this weekend to make that happen.

The Bears enter the week ranked No. 50 in the RPI. Texas Tech enters the week at No. 44. Two wins in Lubbock would get the Bears back in the mix for a regional berth, but that's a good news/bad news situation.

The bad news is that Baylor hasn't won a series in Lubbock since 1998. There have been a number of difficult losses in that stretch, more notably game two of the 2004 series, when the Bears put up 12 in the seventh to take an 18-10 lead, only to see Texas Tech answer with nine runs to regain the lead on its way to a 19-18 win.

As a side note, the Red Raiders' starting pitcher in that game was Dallas Braden, who just spun the 19th perfect game in Major League Baseball history. Braden allowed five runs in 4.0 innings in that game, which isn't a very impressive line, but considering that the teams combined for 37 runs, it wasn't all that bad. That was the only time Braden pitched against the Bears in his three years in Lubbock (tip of the cap to Larry Little aka The Pen for sharing his ridiculous memory).

Back to the Bears' regional hopes. As of right now, most projections have the Bears on the wrong side of the bubble. Baylor has six Big 12 games remaining, and assuming the Bears play well enough to earn a spot in the Big 12 Championship, they'll have at least three games there.

With nine games against conference opponents remaining, the opportunity is still there and the Bears control their own destiny.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK

Raynor Campbell, Senior, Second Baseman, Katy, Texas (Taylor HS)
Hit .391 (9-for-23) with two doubles and four runs scored while playing errorless defense in five games during the week ... Doubled at TCU on Tuesday and went 4-for-5 with four runs scored on Wednesday ... Had two singles and a sacrifice bunt in Friday night's game, doubled and singled in the Saturday game against Texas and went 0-for-3 with a walk in the series finale.

CO-PITCHERS OF THE WEEK

Logan Verrett, Sophomore, RHP, Corpus Christi, Texas (Calallen HS)
Outdueled fellow sophomore Taylor Jungmann by allowing two runs in 7.2 innings in Friday's series opener against Texas ... Only two runs allowed came on a two-out infield single in the second and a two-out bouncer through the middle in the eighth ... Struck out eight and issued just one walk ... Extended streak of games with at least eight strikeouts to five ... After Bears took lead with two runs in bottom of sixth, came back out and struck out all three batters on called third strikes in seventh ... All eight hits allowed were singles, including three infield hits.

Shawn Tolleson, Junior, RHP, Fairview, Texas (Allen HS)
Turned in best outing of season by holding Texas to one run on six hits with no walks and 11 strikeouts in 8.0 innings in Saturday's game ... Allowed five singles and one double, and the only run that scored came around on a hit-and-run double ... In eighth and final inning, struck out all three batters swinging ... Tied season high with 11 strikeouts - also struck out 11 in season opener against Duke ... Faced just four batters over the minimum in 8.0 innings.

Here's what local print media outlets had to say throughout the weekend:

From the Waco Tribune-Herald:
Staff Report - No. 11 Horned Frogs Sink Baylor Baseball in 10 (Wednesday)
Brice Cherry - Baylor Baseball Wallops No. 11 TCU, 14-4 (Thursday)
Brice Cherry - Baylor Catcher Glime Enjoying Breakout Year at the Plate (Friday)
Brice Cherry - Longhorns Outlast Baylor Baseball in 10, 4-2 (Saturday)
Brice Cherry - Baylor Baseball Heartbroken Again after 14-Inning Loss to Texas, 2-1 (Sunday)
Brice Cherry - Bears Drop Third Straight to Texas in Baseball, 4-1 (Monday)

From The Baylor Lariat:
Chris Derrett - Baseball Blasts No. 11 TCU, 14-4 (Thursday)

That's all for now, but don't forget to follow The Kaye Zone on Twitter.

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