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Bears Open 2007 Season at Houston College Classic

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RELEASE ONE • FEB. 7, 2007



Friday        Baylor vs. Houston, 7 p.m. CST

                  Minute Maid Park College Classic

                  Minute Maid ParkHouston, Texas

Saturday    Baylor vs. Rice, 7 p.m. CST

                  Minute Maid Park College Classic

                  Minute Maid ParkHouston, Texas

Sunday      Baylor vs. Vanderbilt, 2:30 p.m. CST

                  Minute Maid Park College Classic

                  Minute Maid ParkHouston, Texas

Tuesday     Baylor vs. Texas State, 6:30 p.m. CST

                  Baylor Ballpark • Waco, Texas



1660 ESPN RADIO (Waco)

            Tom Barfield, play-by-play

            Lark Smith, color





Video: (Tuesday only)


            Baylor opens the 2007 season this weekend, making its fourth appearance in the Houston College Classic hosted by the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas. The Bears begin the weekend Feb. 9 against Houston at 7 p.m. CST. Baylor faces top-ranked Rice at 7 p.m. Saturday and ninth-ranked Vanderbilt at 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are available for all three games by calling the Houston Astros ticket office at 1.877.9ASTROS or online at

            The Bears (0-0) enter the 2007 season unranked nationally by Baseball America. Baylor is ranked 24th nationally in the USA Today/ESPN Preseason Coaches' Poll, 20th in this week's Collegiate Baseball Top 30 and 21st in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Preseason Top 35.

            All Baylor baseball games are broadcast live on Waco's 1660 ESPN Radio. Live streaming audio and GameTracker also are available for all Baylor baseball games online at, the official website of Baylor Athletics and a member of the CSTV Network.



Friday, Feb. 9

Vanderbilt vs. Rice, Noon

Texas A&M vs. Arizona State, 3:30 p.m.

Baylor vs. Houston, 7 p.m.


Saturday, Feb. 10

FanFest 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Vanderbilt vs. Arizona State, Noon

Texas A&M vs. Houston, 3:30 p.m.

Baylor vs. Rice, 7 p.m.


Sunday, Feb. 11

FanFest 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Arizona State vs. Houston, 11 a.m.

Baylor vs. Vanderbilt, 2:30 p.m.

Texas A&M vs. Rice, 6 p.m.



Friday, Feb. 9

BU        RHP     Randall Linebaugh * (6-1, 3.42 ERA, 71.0 IP, 65 K)

UH        RHP     Aaron Brown (0-0, 13.50 ERA, 0.2 IP, 0 K)


Saturday, Feb. 10

BU        LHP      Cliff Springston * (2-1, 6.39 ERA, 25.1 IP, 12 K)

RICE     RHP     Ryan Berry (0-0, 0.00, 3.0 IP, 2 K)


Sunday, Feb. 11

BU        RHP     Jeff Mandel * (2-3, 4.40 ERA, 57.1 IP, 38 K)

VU        RHP     Brett Jacobson * (2-0, 4.20 ERA, 15.0 IP, 16 K)


* - 2006 statistics




• Since the start of the 2003 season, Baylor is:

      - 116-43 (.730) when its starting pitcher lasts at least 5.0 innings

      - 27-7 (.794) when its pitching staff records at least 10 strikeouts

      - 110-32 (.775) when scoring first

      - 127-25 (.836) when out-hitting its opponent

      - 119-32 (.788) when holding its opponent to fewer than five runs

      - 108-22 (.831) when scoring at least six runs

      - 97-15 (.867) when scoring at least seven runs

• Since the start of the 2002 season, Baylor is 154-7 (.957) when leading after eight innings. The Bears have won 14 straight, 48 of their last 49 and 83 of their last 85 such games.

• Baylor has won 20 of its last 21 games when hitting at least two home runs.

• The Bears posted a regular-season facility record with 27 victories at Baylor Ballpark last season. Baylor is 32-8 at home since the beginning of the 2005 postseason.



            Baylor and Houston meet for the 143rd time Friday with the Bears holding an 83-59 advantage in the all-time series, which dates back to the 1951 season. The Bears are 17-14 against the Cougars during head coach Steve Smith's tenure.

            Because the game is played at Minute Maid Park, it is considered a neutral-site contest. Baylor holds a 6-2 advantage in neutral-site meetings.

            The Baylor-Houston series is the sixth-most played rivalry in Baylor baseball history behind Texas (322 meetings), Texas A&M (255), TCU (232), Rice (210) and SMU (168).


Overall: Baylor leads 83-59

            Waco:   Baylor leads 34-27

            Houston (at Houston):   Baylor leads 39-26

            Neutral Site:      Baylor leads 6-2

            Unknown Site:   Tied 4-4

Smith vs. Houston:        17-14

First Meeting:    Houston 5, Baylor 3 [1951]

Last Meeting:    at Houston 5, Baylor 3 [3/14/2006]




            A three-run Houston eighth inning provided an insurmountable deficit as Baylor dropped a 5-3 decision at Cougar Field.

            Leading 2-1, Houston scored three runs off three hits and a walk in the eighth to push its lead to 5-1. Baylor rallied in the top of the ninth, scoring a pair of runs and putting the tying run on base. However, Cougar reliever Ricky Hargrove's full-count curve ball caught Kevin Russo looking to end the game.

            The loss spoiled a strong start by Randall Linebaugh, who allowed one unearned run on three hits and a walk over 5.1 innings. Tim Matthews was saddled with the loss as he allowed the consecutive hits to start the seventh; he was touched for three hits with a strikeout in two-thirds of an inning.

            Baylor's bullpen duo of Nick Cassavechia and Jeff Mandel, which had not allowed a run in 16.1 combined innings this season, was touched for all three runs in the eighth. Cassavechia surrendered two runs, while Mandel was touched for one run, ending Mandel's 22.0-inning scoreless streak.



            Saturday is the 211th meeting between Baylor and Rice, making this the fourth most-played series in Baylor baseball history behind only Texas (322), Texas A&M (255) and TCU (232).

            Baylor holds a 125-84-1 advantage the all-time series, which dates back to April 25, 1919. However, Rice has won nine of the last 10 meetings and four straight. Baylor's lone victory in that stretch was a 6-1 victory at the 2005 Minute Maid Park College Classic. The Bears are 12-18 against Rice during head coach Steve Smith's tenure.

            Rice holds a 3-1 advantage in neutral-site meetings.


Overall: Baylor leads 125-84-1

            Waco:   Baylor leads 71-30

            Houston (at Rice):         Rice leads 49-44-1

            Neutral Site:      Rice leads 3-1

            Unknown Site:   Baylor leads 9-2

Smith vs. Rice:  12-18

First Meeting:    [4/25/1919]

Last Meeting:    at Rice 7, Baylor 4 [6/5/2006]




            Baylor's three-run third was answered by Rice's five-spot in the bottom of the inning, and the host Owls never trailed again en route to a 7-4 victory over Baylor in the NCAA Houston Regional championship game at Reckling Park.

            After Drew Bias scored on a bases-loaded wild pitch with two outs in the third, Zach Dillon punched a two-run single through the right side.

            However, the Bears' lead did not last long as Rice immediately got the offense started on Tyler Henley's leadoff single in the bottom of the inning. Two outs later, Josh Rodriguez blasted a two-run homer down the line in right. Joe Savery and Aaron Luna followed with consecutive singles and both scored on Adam Zornes' double to right-center. Jordan Dodson followed with an RBI triple past a diving Kevin Sevigny down the right-field line.

            Baylor starter Tim Matthews was saddled with the loss; he was touched for five runs on 10 hits and a walk with one strikeout in 3.0 innings.

            Rice tacked on a run in the fourth and another in the fifth, stretching its lead to 7-3. Beamer Weems' had a two-out RBI single up the middle in the top of the seventh, but the Bears could get no closer.



            Baylor and Vanderbilt meet for the eighth time Sunday. The Bears hold a 5-2 advantage in the all-time series, which dates back to a 10-4 Baylor victory at the 1999 Houston Invitational.

            The Commodores took two of three at Baylor Ballpark in 2004, but the Bears swept Vanderbilt in a three-game series at Nashville in 2005. This is the first meeting between the programs since the 2005 series.


Overall: Baylor leads 5-2

            Waco:   Tied 2-2

            Nashville:          Baylor leads 3-0

            Neutral Site:      Never Met

Smith vs. Vanderbilt:     4-2

First Meeting:    Baylor 10, Vanderbilt 4 [2/19/1999]

Last Meeting:    Baylor 4, at Vanderbilt 1 [3/13/2005]




            Chase Gerdes drew a two-out, bases-loaded walk and Michael Griffin followed with a two-run single as Baylor scored three runs in the top of the ninth inning to complete a three-game series sweep of Vanderbilt 4-1. Vanderbilt suffered its first non-conference sweep since losing five straight to Hawai'i to open the 1981 season.

            Reliever Ryan LaMotta earned the victory, allowing two hits and a walk with two strikeouts in 2.0 innings. Starter Mark McCormick allowed one run on four hits and two walks with four strikeouts in 7.0 innings.

            Vanderbilt drew first blood, scoring a run on three hits in the bottom of the first. Mike Baxter had the run-producer, a two-out double down the right-field line.

            Baylor was quick to answer, though, tying the game in the top of the second. Josh Ford was hit by a pitch to open the frame and then stole second. Zach Dillon followed with a double off the right-field wall, but Ford was forced to stop at third on the play. Kevin Russo plated Ford with a groundout to second.



            Baylor and Texas State meet for the 52nd time on the diamond Tuesday. The Bears hold a 37-14 advantage in the all-time series and have won 23 of 32 meetings during head coach Steve Smith's tenure.

            The teams first met March 26, 1919. Baylor is 30-11 against the Bobcats in Waco, including an 11-5 mark at Baylor Ballpark.


Overall: Baylor leads 37-14

            Waco:   Baylor leads 30-11

            San Marcos:     Baylor leads 7-3

            Neutral Site:      Never Met

Smith vs. Texas State:   23-9

First Meeting:    result unknown [3/26/1919]

Last Meeting:    at Baylor 5, Texas State 3 [5/9/2006]




            Tim Jackson's two-out, two-run single keyed a three-run seventh inning as Baylor defeated Texas State 5-3. Jackson's game-winning hit snapped an 0-for-4 spell for the Bears with the bases loaded on the night. Baylor had the bases loaded with no outs and a run already on the board in the first, but Mike Pankratz lined into a double play. After a Ben Booker walk reloaded the bases, Jackson grounded out to third to end the inning.

            Baylor again loaded the bases with the score tied 2-2 and no outs in seventh. Pankratz flied out to right but not deep enough to score Zach Dillon from third. Booker then struck out swinging. Jackson, who grounded out to third in each of his first three at bats, then looped a single into shallow left-center, scoring Dillon and Kevin Sevigny. Seth Fortenberry, who went from first to third on Jackson's single, then scored on a wild pitch to give the Bears a 5-2 lead.

            Texas State made things interesting in the ninth, loading the bases with no outs on a single, a walk and a looping single down the line in right. However, Nick Cassavechia induced a run-scoring double play and a ground out to end the threat and the game.

            Jeff Mandel earned the victory in relief, allowing one run on one hit and a walk with three strikeouts in 4.0 innings of relief. Starter Randall Linebaugh did not factor in the decision; he left the game with a 2-1 lead after holding Texas State to one run on four hits and a walk with six strikeouts over 4.0 innings.

            Sevigny's RBI single gave the Bears a 1-0 lead in the first, but Texas State quickly answered with a run in the second. Baylor recaptured the lead in the second on another Sevigny RBI single. That lead held until the sixth, when Luke Cannon drew a leadoff walk and later scored on a David Wood double down the left-field line.



            This is Baylor's fifth appearance at the Houston College Classic, formerly known as the Astros College Classic and the Minute Maid Park College Classic. Baylor is 7-5 all-time at the event, including a 3-0 mark in 2005. The Bears were 2-1 in 2001, 0-3 with three one-run losses in 2002 and 2-1 in 2003.

            A Bear has been named MVP in three of the four events in which Baylor has appeared, even in 2002 when the Bears did not win a game -- C Kelly Shoppach (2001), OF Tim Hartshorn (2002) and OF Michael Griffin (2003) have been so honored.

            Baylor is 3-1 against Houston at the event, 1-3 against Rice, 1-1 against TCU, 1-0 against Louisiana-Lafayette and 1-0 against Tennessee.



Date                 Opponent                     Result

Feb. 1, 2001      Rice                              L          0-1 (10)

Feb. 2, 2001      Houston                        W         16-7

Feb. 3, 2001      TCU                              W         12-4

Feb. 7, 2002      Rice                              L          9-10 (12)

Feb. 8, 2002      Houston                        L          2-3

Feb. 9, 2002      TCU                              L          5-6

Feb. 14, 2003    Houston                        W         14-4

Feb. 15, 2003    Rice                              L          3-4

Feb. 16, 2003    Louisiana-Lafayette       W         12-4

Feb. 11, 2005    Houston                        W         8-6

Feb. 12, 2005    Tennessee                    W         3-2

Feb. 13, 2005    Rice                              W         6-1



            The Bears are 7-5 in season openers under head coach Steve Smith, including last year's 9-2 victory over Stephen F. Austin at Baylor Ballpark. The Bears, who have won each of their last two season openers, are 22-15 in such games since 1970.

            This is the fourth time Baylor has opened its season at the Houston College Classic. The Bears also opened the season at the event in 2001, 2002 and 2005.



            RHP Jake Weghorst ended the 2006 season with a 27.0-inning scoreless streak that spanned 17 outings. That is the longest scoreless streak by a Baylor pitcher since Ryan LaMotta's 27.2-inning streak during the 2005 season.

            Weghorst established himself as one of the nation's top setup men in 2006, posting a 1-0 record with a 1.73 ERA in 36.1 innings over 24 appearances. Dominant coming out of the bullpen, Weghorst held first batters to a .095 average (2-for-21) in 23 relief outings with three double plays and two sacrifice hits.

            A 2003 Lorena [Texas] High School product who came to Baylor by way of Angelina Junior College, Weghorst established a Baylor reliever record for lowest ERA in a Big 12 season last year when he appeared in nine league games and did not allow a run on six hits in 10.2 innings.



            Baylor posted a 13-4 record in non-conference midweek games during the 2006 regular season, including an 11-3 mark on Tuesdays. That was quite an improvement from the 2005 season when the Bears were 7-8 in non-conference midweek games, including a 6-6 mark on Tuesdays.



            RHP Nick Cassavechia was named to the 2007 Stopper of the Year Watch List, announced in early February by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. Cassavechia joined Texas sophomore Austin Wood as the only Big 12 pitchers on the 35-man list.

            A product of St. Mark's High School in Dallas, Texas, Cassavechia posted a 3-4 record with eight saves and a 3.03 ERA as a sophomore in 2006. He stranded 24 of 27 inherited runners (88.9 percent) and held a lead or a tie in 16 of 18 opportunities (88.9 percent). Cassavechia was dominate when entering a game as opponents were 2-for-25 (.080) in first at bats against the Baylor closer.

            Cassavechia's 2006 saves total tied for the sixth-best tally in school history. He tied fellow Bear Jeff Mandel for fourth in the Big 12 last season in saves. Cassavechia and Mandel, who moves to the starting rotation for 2007, are the two top returning pitchers in saves in the conference this year.



            RHP Randall Linebaugh and RF Aaron Miller were honored by Baseball America in the publication's 2007 College Preview. Linebaugh was picked first-team All-Big 12 Conference, while Miller was tabbed as the conference's best incoming freshman.

            Linebaugh, a junior from Mesquite, Texas, was 6-1 last season with a 3.42 ERA in 20 appearances with 13 starts last season. In 71.0 innings, Linebaugh recorded a staff-best 65 strikeouts and held opponents to a .266 batting average. As Baylor's primary midweek starter in 2006, Linebaugh was 6-0 in 11 regular-season starts; Baylor was 10-1 in those 11 games.

            Miller was a third-team Baseball America High School All-America selection last spring. He hit .581 with 14 home runs, 49 RBI, 11 doubles, two triples and 20 stolen bases while playing first base for Channelview [Texas] High School in 2006. Miller was an 11th-round selection of the Colorado Rockies in last June's Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.

            Baseball America also rated Miller as the Big 12's second-best newcomer (includes junior college and senior college transfers). 1B/DH Dustin Dickerson was the publiction's third-rated player in this category. Nationally, Baylor had four of the publication's Top 50 Freshmen, including three in the top 11. Miller was rated third, while Dickerson was seventh, RHP Kendal Volz was 11th and RHP Shawn Tolleson was 46th.



            Baylor's 2007 schedule is projected as the nation's 20th-most difficult slate, according to Boyd Nation of The Bears' schedule is rated as the third-most difficult in the Big 12 behind Texas (10th) and Texas A&M (17th). In fact, Baylor, Texas, Texas A&M and Georgia (18th) are the only non-California and/or non-Pac 10 teams in the top 25.

            Long Beach State's schedule is predicted to be the most difficult, followed by Southern California, UCLA, Stanford, Cal Poly, Pacific, Cal State Northridge, Cal State Fullerton, UC Santa Barbara and Texas.



            Baylor was picked to finish fourth in the Big 12 Conference, according to the preseason coaches' poll released by the league office. The Bears garnered 57 total points, seven behind third-place Nebraska and 11 ahead of fifth-place Oklahoma.

            Defending regular-season champion Texas was picked as the preseason favorite, receiving 79 total points and seven of nine first-place votes. Oklahoma State was picked to finish second with 70 points and two first-place votes. Texas Tech was picked to finish sixth, followed by Texas A&M, Missouri, Kansas and Kansas State. Coaches are not permitted to vote for their own teams.

            This is the third consecutive season in which Baylor was picked to finish fourth in the preseason coaches' poll. In the 10-year history of the Big 12 Conference, only five schools have claimed regular-season titles: Baylor (2000, 2005); Nebraska (2001, 2003, 2005); Texas (2002, 2004, 2006); Texas A&M (1998, 1999) and Texas Tech (1997).



            Baylor was listed as the nation's 17th-best collegiate baseball program since the NCAA Tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1999, according to a recent study by Baseball America. The publication's study focused on 11 categories, including winning percentage, NCAA Tournament appearances, tradition, All-Americans and players drafted in the top 10 rounds.

            With 150 total points, Baylor was the third highest-rated Big 12 Conference program behind only top-rated Texas and 11th-rated Nebraska. Miami, Fla., Stanford, Cal State Fullerton, Rice, Louisiana State, Florida State, Clemson, South Carolina and Southern California rounded out the top 10 of the 64-team list. Other Big 12 programs on the list were Texas A&M (24th), Oklahoma State (29th), Oklahoma (35th), Texas Tech (40th) and Missouri (59th).

            Baseball America last did such a study in 1997 and focused only on the 1990s. Baylor ranked 80th in that study; the Bears' 63-spot jump was the second-largest behind only Tulane, which climbed from 83rd in 1997 to one spot ahead of Baylor at No. 16 in this study. With that, Baylor ranked second in the publication's list of top five "rising" programs; Rice and Wake Forest, both up 59 spots, tied for third on the list, followed by Nebraska (up 51 spots).

            Programs were awarded one point for every .010 above a .500 winning percentage, five points for each regional appearance, seven points for each super regional appearance, 10 points for each College World Series appearance, 20 points for each national title, one point for each CWS appearance prior to 1999, five points for each first-team All-American, three points for each second-team All-American, two points for each third-team All-American, two points for each player drafted in the top 10 rounds and two points for each former player to play in the Major Leagues during the period of study.

            With 19 players drafted in the top 10 rounds since 1999, Baylor tied Louisiana State, Nebraska, North Carolina and Texas A&M for 11th in that category. The Bears tied for 15th in total All-Americans since 1999. Baylor also is one of only 20 programs to make at least seven NCAA Tournament appearances in the last eight years.



            Catch every inning of Baylor baseball in 2006 on the flagship station for Baylor athletics, 1660 ESPN Radio.

            Popular on-air personality Tom Barfield enters his fourth season as the primary play-by-play man for Baylor baseball. Barfield, the operations manager for KRZI/KRZX and KLRK-FM in Waco, is best known as co-host of the afternoon "You Make the Call" call-in show. Barfield also serves as host for the "Countdown to Kickoff" and "The Baylor Fifth Quarter Show" during football season. He has previously served as the radio voice for Tarleton State, McLennan Community College, Mary Hardin-Baylor and several high schools across the state.

            Barfield is joined by Lark Smith in the booth. Smith, whose attachment to Baylor baseball dates back to the days of coach Dutch Schroeder, was sports director for the Baylor campus radio station in the late 1970s and served as play-by-play voice for the Bears' 1977 and 1978 College World Series teams. After nearly two decades in broadcasting, Smith now works for the Heart O' Texas Federal Credit Union in Waco.

            Live audio for all Baylor baseball games also are available online at



            Inside Baylor Sports, a half-hour look at the world of Baylor athletics, airs weekly throughout Central Texas and the region. The program, co-hosted by John Morris and Lori Scott-Fogleman, airs on KCEN-TV Channel 6, Fox Sports Net Southwest and the College Channel (Waco cable channel 18). KCEN carries the show at 10:30 p.m. Sundays, and it airs at 1 p.m. Wednesdays on FSN Southwest.


HEAD COACH Steve Smith

            Steve Smith is in his 13th season as head coach of Baylor's baseball program in 2007. In his first 12 years, Smith guided the program to unprecedented heights, including the most successful nine-year run in the program's 102-season history and a College World Series appearance in 2005.

            Smith has compiled a 454-284-1 career record, all at Baylor. He holds the best winning percentage (.615) of any coach in Baylor baseball history, and he ranks second among the program's 18 head coaches in career victories. Smith has led Baylor to eight NCAA Regional appearances, three NCAA Super Regional appearances, one College World Series appearance and two Big 12 Conference titles. He also has coached 12 All-America selections and seven USA Baseball National Team members while at Baylor.

            The 2005 USA Baseball National Team head coach, Smith came to Baylor from Mississippi State, where he was an assistant under Ron Polk for five seasons. Prior to that, he served as a graduate assistant for Mark Johnson at Texas A&M from 1987 to 1989.

            A former standout pitcher at Baylor in 1982-1983, Smith led the Southwest Conference with a 1.72 ERA as a junior. He was drafted in the fifth round of the 1983 Major League draft by the San Francisco Giants and played four years of pro ball before moving into the coaching ranks.

            Smith has tutored seven pitchers in the last 13 years who were selected in the first round of the Major League Baseball draft. He also has coached at least one all-conference pitcher in each of the last 13 years.



            Following Tuesday's midweek game at home against Texas State, Baylor remains at Baylor Ballpark for a three-game weekend series against Stephen F. Austin. The Bears and the Lumberjacks play Friday at 6:30 p.m. CST, Saturday at 3 p.m. and Sunday at 1:30 p.m.



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