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Baseball Opens With Duke & Georgia

Feb. 18, 2010





BAYLOR (0-0) vs. DUKE (0-0) & NO. 22 GEORGIA

FRIDAY:  1:00 p.m. CST vs. Duke & 5:00 p.m. vs. Georgia -- free schedule magnets

SATURDAY:  1:00 p.m. vs. Duke -- free schedule posters

SUNDAY:  2:00 p.m. vs. Georgia -- free schedule magnets, key tags and posters



Baylor vs. Duke

Overall:  Never Met

Baylor vs. Georgia

  Never Met



BAYLOR:                Steve Smith

                Alma Mater:            Baylor, 1986

                Career Record:      552-363-1 [16th season]

                Record at Baylor:  552-363-1 [16th season]

DUKE:                Sean McNally

                Alma Mater:            Duke, 1994

                Career Record:      116-107-1 [fifth season]

                Record at Duke:  116-107-1 [fifth season]


GEORGIA:                David Perno

                Alma Mater:            Georgia, 1991

                Career Record:      289-208-1 [ninth season]

                Record at Georgia:  289-208-1 [ninth season]




1660 ESPN RADIO (Waco)

                Tom Barfield, play-by-play

                Lark Smith, color










FRIDAY (Game 1)

Baylor:  RHP Shawn Tolleson, Jr. (1-2, 4.50 ERA, 54.0 IP, 29 BB, 41 K)

Duke:  LHP Eric Pfisterer, So. (3-2, 5.00 ERA, 45.0 IP, 23 BB, 45 K)

FRIDAY (Game 2)
  RHP Logan Verrett, So. (7-1, 5.13 ERA, 54.1 IP, 19 BB, 64 K)

Georgia:  RHP Justin Grimm, Jr. (4-4, 4.15 ERA, 78.0 IP, 16 BB, 72 K)



Baylor:  RHP Craig Fritsch, Jr. (4-5, 5.09 ERA, 53.0 IP, 26 BB, 50 K)

Duke:  RHP Michael Ness, Sr. (2-2, 2.44 ERA, 44.1 IP, 11 BB, 38 K)



Baylor:  RHP Willie Kempf, Sr. (5-5, 5.22 ERA, 58.2 IP, 29 BB, 61 K)

Georgia:  RHP Michael Palazzone, So. (3-0, 5.13 ERA, 33.1 IP, 15 BB, 49 K)

Baylor opens its 2010 season this weekend, hosting Duke and 22nd-ranked Georgia in QTI Apparel's Opening Weekend Classic. The Bears open with Duke at 1 p.m. CST on Friday, then take on Georgia at 5 p.m. the same day. Baylor again faces Duke at 1 p.m. on Saturday, then plays Georgia in the weekend finale at 5 p.m. on Sunday. This will be the first time the Bears have played against either team.

The Bears (30-26 in 2009) enter the season unranked in any of the major polls for the first time since 2006 and just the second time in the last decade. However, the Big 12 coaches picked Baylor to finish sixth in the conference. The Bears return strength in numbers on the mound, with 10 of 13 pitchers returning from last season's squad. Baylor also has an experienced infield, with all four infield spots occupied by players who have starting experience, as well as a backstop who enters his third year as a starter.

Duke (35-24 in 2009) is not ranked in any of the four preseason polls. The Blue Devils return five position starts and 12 of 16 pitchers from last season's team that finished seventh in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Georgia (38-24 in 2009) is ranked in three of the four preseason polls. The Bulldogs highest ranking comes from Baseball America, where they check in at No. 22. UGA is ranked 26th by the NCBWA, and 31st by Collegiate Baseball newspaper. The Bulldogs are listed fifth among teams receiving votes in the USA Today/ESPN Top 25 coaches' poll.

The Bears will be facing both teams for the first time in program history. All 20 of the Bears' remaining 2010 opponents have faced Baylor at least once.

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 CBS College Sports Network.

Live streaming video also is available three of Baylor's four games in QTI Apparel's Opening Weekend Classic. The only game unavailable will be the Bears' opener against Duke at 1 p.m. on Friday. For more information, follow the Baylor All-Access link at

Baylor has had plenty of success when opening the season with a weekend set at Baylor Ballpark. Since the ballpark opened in 1999, the Bears are 12-2 when opening the season with a weekend at home. Baylor took two of three from Pacific last season, swept at three-game set against Purdue in 2008, swept all three games against Stephen F. Austin in 2006, took two of three from Loyola Marymount in 2004 and took both games from Northwestern State in 2000.

The Bears have won each of their last four home openers and are 11-4 in home openers during the Steve Smith era. Since 1970, Baylor is 24-16 in its first game of the season, including a 14-7 mark when playing its first game at home during that stretch.

Baylor is 56-52 all-time against the Southeastern Conference, most of which was against former Southwest Conference members Arkansas (37-36). The Bears have faced Florida (1-1), LSU (2-7), Ole Miss (4-1), Mississippi State (6-3), South Carolina (0-1), Tennessee (1-0) and Vanderbilt (5-3). After playing Georgia, Baylor will have played against nine of the conference's 12 teams. The Bears have never faced Alabama, Auburn or Kentucky.

Baylor is 3-2 all-time against members of the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Bears have faced Clemson (2-1), Miami, Fla. (0-1) and Wake Forest (1-0).

Baylor is 9-6 in season openers under head coach Steve Smith, including 2-1 wins in each of the last two seasons (Purdue in 2008, Pacific in 2009). The Bears, who are 4-2 in their last six season openers after dropping four straight from 2001 to 2004, are 24-16 in such games since 1970.

This is the 10th time in Smith's 15-year tenure that Baylor has opened its season at home; the Bears are 7-2 in such situations.

The Bears are 11-4 in home openers under head coach Steve Smith. Baylor has won four straight such games. Since 1960, Baylor is 38-12 in home openers. The Bears won nine consecutive home openers from 1991 to 1998.

Baylor baseball was picked to finish sixth in the Big 12 Conference in the Preseason Coaches' Poll. The Bears (30-26, 10-16 in 2009) received 39 points, placing them ahead of Kansas State, Missouri, Nebraska and Texas Tech.

With its No.1 national ranking, Texas received all nine possible first-place votes, giving the Longhorns 81 points. Kansas tallied the other first-place vote and is picked to finish second with 69 points. Texas A&M notched 64 points, Oklahoma came in fourth with 57 points and Oklahoma State was picked fifth with 47 points. Coaches are not permitted to vote for their own teams.

The Bears had been picked in the top four in every season since 1999, including being tabbed third in each of the last two seasons. Despite that preseason ranking, the Bears finished eighth in 2009. Texas A&M was last year's preseason favorite, garnering all nine possible first-place votes, but the Aggies finished the season in sixth place.

Some might think the Bears are playing a soft schedule in 2010 based simply on the fact that the first 18 games are at Baylor Ballpark. We're here to tell you that's just not true ... and we can back that claim up with evidence.

Boyd's World, a college baseball site run by Boyd Nation, uses a measuring stick called "Iterative Strength Ratings." Boyd's World uses the ISR in place of the RPI to measure a team's success, and by using each team's 2009 ISR, Boyd has been able to compile a ranking of each team's 2010 Intended Strength of Schedule.

The ranking is called the "Intended Strength of Schedule" because it uses last season's ISR ratings to determine the strength of the schedule each team intended to play. Coaches usually schedule opponents at least a year in advance, so the ISS attempts to determine how strong the coach thought the schedule would be when he made it.

All of that to say, Baylor enters the 2010 season with the toughest Intended Strength of Schedule in the nation. Out of 301 teams listed, Baylor has THE TOUGHEST schedule in the nation.

Since most teams play the majority of their games in conference play, this metric often groups teams from the same conference pretty close together, but this year it's a little different. The next toughest ISS in the Big 12 is Texas A&M at No. 9, followed by Texas Tech (11), Kansas (19), Texas (20), Missouri (25), Oklahoma (42), Oklahoma State (44), Nebraska (51) and Kansas State (57).

Why the gap between Big 12 teams? Well, Baylor has the Big 12's most difficult non-conference Intended Strength of Schedule at No. 9. The Bears are followed in the non-conference rankings by Texas A&M (33), Texas Tech (46), Texas (58), Kansas (77), Oklahoma (102), Missouri (103), Oklahoma State (132), Kansas State (157) and Nebraska (165).

RHP Logan Verrett became the second freshman in Baylor history to start his career 7-0. Furthermore, he earned either a win or a save in each of his first eight appearances, all of which were one-run games. Verrett hopes to avoid the sophomore jinx that snagged Tolleson last season and Kendal Volz in 2008. Only one of the previous 10 Baylor pitchers who won at least six games as a freshmen -- Ted Richardson -- won at least that many as sophomores.

Baseball America picked Baylor to finish seventh in its annual Big 12 Conference preview. Though that finish would've gotten the Bears into the NCAA tournament when the conference got eight bids a season ago, BA projects the Big 12 to send just five teams to regionals this season.

The publication also named its top 10 prospects in the conference for each of the next two draft classes. OF/RHP Brooks Pinckard was picked as the conference's ninth-best draft prospect for 2010, while RHP Logan Verrett was named the second-best prospect in the conference among players eligible for the 2011 MLB Draft.

In the "Best Tools" section of BA's preview, C Gregg Glime was named the league's best defensive catcher, while Pinckard was picked as the best outfield arm in the Big 12.

Kendall Rogers of! Sports NCAA Baseball picked Baylor to finish seventh in his Big 12 preseason poll. He also picked the Bears to be on the bubble for an NCAA tournament bid, and he offered high praise for the BU pitching staff:

"BU welcomes back a crop of talented pitchers in Shawn Tolleson, Craig Fritsch, Willie Kempf and Logan Verrett. However, its offense is a major concern. BU could be a huge surprise if its offense rises to the occasion. "

Keeping in line with Yahoo! and Baseball America, The College Baseball Blog projects Baylor to finish seventh in the Big 12 Conference. The CBB projects RHP Logan Verrett to make the All-Big 12 first team as a starting pitcher, and it picks 2B Joey Hainsfurther as an honorable mention all-conference selection on the infield.

Baylor is 19-8 in extra-inning games since the start of the 2003 season, including a 4-1 mark in such games last season. Baylor was 1-3 in extra-inning games in 2008, 2-1 in 2007, 0-1 in 2006, 6-1 in 2005, 1-0 in 2004 and 5-1 in 2003.

The Bears won all four regular season games that went to extra innings last season, but fell to No. 2 national seed LSU 3-2 in 10 innings in the second game of the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional.

Five of the 15 wins over the past six seasons have come on an opponent's home field (Arizona twice, Arizona State, Texas and Vanderbilt). Three of the 15 wins were either neutral-site games or games at Baylor Ballpark in which the Bears were the visitor. Four of the 15 wins have come in postseason play, including two at the Big 12 Tournament and one at the College World Series.

Baylor's luck was not as good in 2002 when the Bears were 1-5 in extra-inning games, including a span of three consecutive games lost in extra innings in mid-May.

The College Baseball Blog picked two Bears among its top 100 college players who are eligible for the 2010 MLB Draft. RHP Shawn Tolleson was slotted as the nation's 63rd-best prospect, while RHP Craig Fritsch was ranked No. 67.

The CBB also compiled a list of its top 100 players college players across the nation. RHP Logan Verrett was the only Bear selected, coming in at No. 64. The site had this to say about Verrett:

"If Verrett can become a more polished pitcher and get more consistent in throwing strikes, he can challenge Gerrit Cole for the top spot in the 2011 MLB Draft. We believe that Verrett will be able to find his game this season and become a solid starter in the Baylor rotation."

Baylor's May 1 game at Texas will be televised nationally on ESPNU, while the Bears' game against the Longhorns the following day will be shown nationally on Fox College Sports. The first game, which was originally scheduled for 3:30 p.m. CT, has been pushed back to 8 p.m, while the series finale has been moved to 2:30 p.m.

The Bears will be playing on ESPNU for the second time in program history. Incidentally, the first game was on the same date last season, and was also played against Texas at UFCU Disch-Falk Field. The Longhorns won that game 12-4, as Baylor committed seven errors that led to six unearned runs.

In the latter game, Baylor will be looking for its first win in a game televised on FCS, as the Bears lost both games previously aired by the network. The Bears fell to seventh-ranked Nebraska, 14-1, at Baylor Ballpark on April 26, 2008, and then dropped a 2-0 decision to the Longhorns in Austin on May 3 of the same season.

Since 1988, the Bears have played 67 games on television, including five during the 2009 season, and hold a 29-38 record in televised games. Baylor is 6-6 in games televised on the ESPN family of networks.

College Baseball Today picked Texas as its favorite to win the Big 12 Conference, but the site listed Baylor, Kansas and Texas A&M as the teams who could challenge the Longhorns for the top spot in the league. CBT had this to say about the 2010 Bears:

"Baylor still has enough talent on hand to make things interesting, though they'll have a lot to overcome as well."

CBT also had the following as one of its three bold predictions:

"Texas A&M and Baylor, playing under less stress and expectations, will play a lot better this season."

CBT also lists RHPs Logan Verrett, Craig Fritsch and Willie Kempf and IFs Dan Evatt and Joey Hainsfurther as its preseason all-conference candidates. On the Bears' 2010 schedule, CBT said:

"Quietly one of the toughest. Shhh. Not sure a lot of people realize how *potentially* difficult BU's pre-conference slate could be. Opening with under-the-radar Duke and Georgia in the opening weekend is awesome. But the Bears will also take on TCU, Texas State and Western Kentucky - a trio of good mid-majors (okay, TCU is actually a great mid-major). They'll also host BYU, LaTech and a four-gamer with Oral Roberts as well. Right before Big 12 play kicks in they'll also play a dangerous Illinois-Chicago team that loves to ambush people. All these games are at home."

Baylor baseball placed 28 players on the Big 12 Commissioner's Honor Roll for the fall 2009 semester. It's worth noting that not all 28 Baylor baseball student-athletes who were honored are on the 2010 roster. Even if a student-athlete has exhausted athletic eligibility, he can still be named to the list for his academic achievement. That's the case for eight of the baseball players named to the list.

The list includes a pair of Bears who came back to school to finish their degrees. Paul Thorp lettered on the baseball team in 2000, 2001 and 2002, and then was selected by the New York Yankees in the 31st round of the 2002 MLB Draft. Seven years later, he came back to Baylor and received his degree in December.

Sean Walker lettered for the Bears from 2002 through 2005, and then was selected by the Houston Astros in the 24th round of the 2005 MLB Draft. Like Thorp, he returned to school and walked across the stage at the Ferrell Center to receive his degree in December.

Brice Ary, William Draper, Adam Hornung, Brooks Kimmey, Eric Udell and Reed Woytek all exhausted athletic eligibility in 2009, but each continued to excel in the classroom, as all six were named to the Honor Roll.

Five Baylor baseball freshmen were listed on the Honor Roll. LHP Crayton Bare joined IFs Steve DalPorto, Lawton Langford, Jake Miller and Logan Vick as student-athletes who qualified for the Honor Roll in their first semesters in college. DalPorto was one of 38 Baylor student-athletes to earn a perfect 4.0 grade-point average. Chris Slater joined DalPorto on the list of students-athletes with perfect GPAs.

Additionally, 12 Bears were repeat members of the Honor Roll. Kolt Browder (third selection), Andrew Cooley (seventh selection), Craig Fritsch (second selection), Gregg Glime (second selection), Willie Kempf (seventh selection), Don Lambert (second selection), Josh Ludy (third selection), Jon Ringenberg (fourth selection), Chris Slater (fifth selection), Ross Speed (third selection), Landis Ware (fourth selection) and Kevin Winter (third selection) were all repeat selections. Joey Hainsfurther, Wes Mercurio and Reid Redman were first-time honorees.


Baylor takes on No. 11 TCU on Wednesday in its first midweek game of the season. This is the first of six times during the 2010 season when the Bears will play just one midweek game. Baylor played two midweeks games five times last season, but will do so just three times in 2010.

The Horned Frogs enter the 2010 season ranked in the top 15 in all four preseason polls. TCU is ranked 11th by both Baseball America and the NCBWA, rank 12th in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches' Poll, and are slotted 15th in the Collegiate Baseball preseason rankings.

Coming off the most successful season in program history, TCU is picked to win its fifth straight Mountain West Conference title. TCU returns five starters from its 2009 team that won the Fort Worth Regional to advance to the program's first-ever Super Regional, where it lost to Texas.

The Horned Frogs are armed with the southpaw hurler Matt Purke, who was ranked the top high school prospect in the nation by following a prep career at Klein High School. Purke was selected by the Texas Rangers with the 14th pick in the first round of the 2009 MLB Draft, but decided not to sign.

Baylor holds a 135-105 advantage in the all-time series with TCU that dates back 106 years. The Bears first met the Horned Frogs on April 21, 1904, and Baylor has only played Texas and Texas A&M more often than TCU. Baylor is 69-41 in games played in Waco, and the Bears hold a 16-17 overall record in the series during the Steve Smith era.

The Bears won both meetings with TCU last season. No. 6 Baylor knocked off 13th-ranked TCU in Fort Worth on March 4, and No. 8 Baylor pounded the 16th-ranked Horned Frogs 15-4 on March 26 at Baylor Ballpark. Aaron Miller, Trent Blank and Logan Verrett combined to hold TCU to one run in the first meeting, and seven Baylor pitchers held TCU to four runs in Waco. All seven of those pitchers return in 2010.

Baylor is 143-107 all-time against programs currently in the Mountain West Conference. The vast majority of that was against TCU (135-105). Baylor also has played Air Force (2-0), San Diego State (5-2) and BYU (1-0).



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