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Bears Host Oral Roberts for the Weekend

RHP Nick Cassavechia has strikeouts in seven of the 10 outs he has recorded this season.

RHP Nick Cassavechia has strikeouts in seven of the 10 outs he has recorded this season.

Feb. 22, 2007

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GAMES 9-11 • FEB. 23-25, 2007

BAYLOR (5-3) vs. ORAL ROBERTS (2-3)

BAYLOR BALLPARK • WACO, TEXAS

 

COACHES

BAYLOR:          Steve Smith

            Alma Mater:      Baylor, 1986

            Career Record:  459-287-1 [13th season]

            Record at Baylor:          459-287-1 [13th season]

ORAL ROBERTS:          Rob Walton

            Alma Mater:      Oklahoma State, 1986

            Career Record:  133-47 [4th season]

            Record at ORU: 133-47 [4th season]

 

BAYLOR/ISP RADIO NETWORK

1660 ESPN RADIO (Waco)

            Tom Barfield, play-by-play

            Lark Smith, color

 

INTERNET FEEDS

GameTracker:    www.BaylorBears.com

Audio:  www.BaylorBears.com

Video (Friday & Saturday):         www.BaylorBears.com

 

NATIONAL RANKINGS

Baseball America          NR

USA Today/ESPN Coaches       24th

NCBWA            RV

Collegiate Baseball        NR

 

PROBABLE PITCHING MATCHUPS

Friday, Feb. 23

BU        RHP Randall Linebaugh (1-1, 2.00 ERA, 9.0 IP, 7 K)

ORU     RHP Chris Ashman (1-1, 4.91 ERA, 11.0 IP, 10)

 

Saturday, Feb. 24

BU        LHP Cliff Springston (1-1, 3.72 ERA, 9.2 IP, 9 K)

ORU     RHP Marcus Tackett (1-0, 4.35 ERA, 10.1 IP, 5 K)

 

Sunday, Feb. 25

BU        RHP Jeff Mandel (1-1, 6.25 ERA, 11.0 IP, 15 K)

ORU     TBA

 

 

Baylor returns to action this weekend, hosting Oral Roberts for a three-game series at Baylor Ballpark. The Bears and the Golden Eagles meet Friday at 6:30 p.m. CST, Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 1:30 p.m. These are the first meetings between the teams since the Bears took two of three games in a series at Baylor Ballpark in 2005.

            The Bears (5-3) have won five straight after Tuesday's 9-1 victory over UTSA at Baylor Ballpark. Unranked in this week's Baseball America Top 25, Baylor has won 12 consecutive home games. The Bears, ranked 24th nationally in the USA Today/ESPN Preseason Coaches' Poll, is unranked in the Collegiate Baseball Top 30 and the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Top 30.

            The Golden Eagles (2-3) were swept in a three-game series at TCU last weekend by scores of 2-1, 10-8 and 8-4, respectively. Oral Roberts opened its season with a pair of wins over Missouri Southern, 14-5 and 11-1. Unranked in this week's Baseball America Top 25, ORU was 10th among teams also receiving votes in the USA Today/ESPN Preseason Coaches' Poll.

            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 www.BaylorBears.com, the official website of Baylor Athletics and a member of the CSTV Network.

            Live streaming video also is available for the Friday and Saturday games. For more information, follow the BearCasts link at www.BaylorBears.com.

 

RADIO NOTICE

            Due to conflicts with Baylor basketball broadcasts, the Saturday and Sunday baseball games will be broadcast on 104.9 FM in the Waco area.

 

QUICK HITS

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

                        - 121-44 (.733) when its starting pitcher lasts at least 5.0 innings

                        - 29-7 (.806) when its pitching staff records at least 10 strikeouts

                        - 115-32 (.782) when scoring first

                        - 132-25 (.841) when out-hitting its opponent

                        - 124-33 (.790) when holding its opponent to fewer than five runs

                        - 112-22 (.836) when scoring at least six runs

                        - 101-15 (.871) when scoring at least seven runs

• Since the start of the 2002 season, Baylor is 159-7 (.958) when leading after eight innings. The Bears have won 19 straight, 53 of their last 54 and 88 of their last 90 such games.

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

• The Bears have won 12 consecutive home games and are 37-8 at Baylor Ballpark since the start of the 2005 postseason.

• RHP Nick Cassavechia has recorded 10 outs this season -- seven of those came by way of strikeout.

• CF Chase Gerdes has reached safely and/or scored in every game this season.

• C Gregg Glime has reached safely in all five games in which he has played. He has drawn a walk in five of his nine plate appearances.

• 3B Seth Hammock has reached safely in each of his four starts this season.

• 1B/DH Tim Jackson is 6-for-8 in his Baylor career with the bases loaded.

Jackson has hit safely and/or produced a sacrifice fly in all seven games in which he has played this season.

• RHP Randall Linebaugh is 7-0 in his career at Baylor Ballpark.

• RHP Jeff Mandel has established a career high for strikeouts in each of his last two outings.

• RHP Tim Matthews has not allowed an earned run in nine consecutive relief appearances.

• SS Beamer Weems has hit safely in six straight games, the longest hitting streak of his career, and in seven of eight games this season.

• Weems has two home runs this season, both from the left side of the plate. He hit eight homers last season as a freshman, all from the right side of the plate.

• After ending the 2006 season with a 27.0-inning scoreless streak, RHP Jake Weghorst has allowed at least one run in all three appearances this season.

 

THE ORAL ROBERTS SERIES

            Baylor and Oral Roberts meet for the 28th, 29th and 30th times this weekend. The Bears hold a 14-13 advantage in the series, which dates back to a three-game series at Tulsa in April 1978. Baylor holds a 10-9 advantage in games played in Waco, and the series is tied 4-4 in games played at Tulsa.

            This is the first meeting between the Bears and the Golden Eagles since Feb. 18-20, 2005, when Baylor two of three in a series at Baylor Ballpark.

 

Overall: Baylor leads 14-13

            Waco:   Baylor leads 10-9

            Tulsa:   Tied 4-4

            Neutral Site:      Never Met

Smith vs. ORU: 6-3

First Meeting:    at ORU 8, Baylor 5 [4/21/1978]

Last Meeting:    at Baylor 4, ORU 0 [2/20/2005]

 

LAST TIME vs. ORAL ROBERTS

BAYLOR 4, UTSA 0 • FEB. 20, 2005 • WACO, TEXAS

            Cory VanAllen tallied eight strikeouts in 8.0 innings of shutout ball and Kyle Reynolds drove in all four runs as Baylor defeated Oral Roberts 4-0 in the series finale at Baylor Ballpark.

            VanAllen allowed four hits and two walks; he allowed only three runners into scoring position, none after the fourth inning.

            Meanwhile, Reynolds provided the Bears all the offense they needed. With no score in the sixth, Seth Fortenberry led off with single, moved to second on a Chase Gerdes sacrifice bunt and advanced to third on a Paul Witt single to shallow left. Reynolds followed with a hit-and-run double to right-center, plating both Fortenberry and Witt.

            That was not Fortenberry's only contribution to the win. With a runner on second and one out in the top of the fourth, Fortenberry made a diving, over-the-shoulder catch on the warning track in left and then doubled the runner off second. That was the last ORU runner to reach scoring position.

            VanAllen retired 12 of the last 14 batters he faced and bounced back from a one-out walk to escape the eighth inning unscathed.

            Reynolds gave Baylor some breathing room in the bottom of the eighth with a two-out, two-run home run to right-center. Abe Woody retired the Golden Eagles in order in the ninth to close the game.

 

WE'LL BE HERE A WHILE

            This weekend's series against Oral Roberts continues a nine-game home stand for Baylor. In fact, the Bears are in a stretch where they play 14 of 17 games at Baylor Ballpark.

            After opening the season at the Houston College Classic, the only time the Bears play away from Baylor Ballpark prior to the start of Big 12 Conference play March 16 at Texas is March 2-4 at the Pacific Tournament hosted by University of the Pacific in Stockton, Calif.

 

BEARS STRONG AT BAYLOR BALLPARK

            Baylor has won 12 straight games at Baylor Ballpark, dating back to a 7-0 loss April 26, 2006, to McNeese State. The Bears' current streak is the program's longest home winning streak since a 15-game run in 2000.

            Since the start of the 2005 postseason, the Bears are 37-8 (.822) at Baylor Ballpark. Six of those eight losses were to ranked opponents. Baylor also has five home wins against ranked opponents during that time, including a sweep of fifth-ranked Nebraska last May.

            Baylor has lost consecutive home games only once since the start of the 2005 postseason: a 6-4 loss to second-ranked Rice on a Josh Rodriguez ninth-inning home run and a 7-6, 13-inning loss to eighth-ranked Texas two days later.

 

TRIPLE YOUR PLEASURE

            Baylor tied a school single-game record Tuesday against UTSA with three triples. LF Ben Booker, CF Chase Gerdes and 1B/DH Dustin Dickerson each recorded a three-bagger. It was the fourth time in school history that Baylor had three triples in a game and the first time since April 6, 2002, when the Bears accomplished the feat against Oklahoma State.

            Last season, Baylor tied for second nationally with 32 triples, which also tied for the fourth-best season total in school history. The Bears have seven triples through eight games this season. Booker and RF Aaron Miller lead the way with two each.

 

FRESHMEN BATS WARMING UP

            Five true freshmen have seen significant time in Baylor's lineup this season: 3B Raynor Campbell, 1B/DH Dustin Dickerson, C Gregg Glime, 2B Shaver Hansen and RF Aaron Miller. That quintet hit .179 (7-for-39) in the season's first three games with no extra-base hits and no RBI. However, the freshmen five are hitting .329 (23-for-70) since then with seven doubles, three triples and 17 RBI.

            Miller has been the hottest, going 8-for-21 (.381) with two doubles, two triples and six RBI in his last five games. Dickerson is hitting .364 (8-for-22) in the last five games with seven RBI, three doubles and a triple; he also is riding a team-best seven-game hitting streak.

 

WELCOME BACK, ANDY

            RHP Andy Pape allowed a hit and a walk with one strikeout while pitching a scoreless ninth inning in Tuesday's 9-1 victory over UTSA. It was Pape's first appearance since May 17, 2005, against Texas State. Pape missed all of last season after undergoing shoulder surgery. He also was limited during his junior season (2005) by knee and ankle injuries.

            Pape, a graduate of Reagan High School in San Antonio, Texas, is 7-4 in 51 career appearances with 4.13 ERA and 71 strikeouts over 104.2 innings.

 

MIDWEEK SUCCESS CONTINUES

            With Tuesday's 9-1 victory over UTSA, Baylor improved to 15-4 in non-conference midweek games since the start of the 2006 season, including a 13-3 mark on Tuesdays. The the Bears were 7-8 in non-conference midweek games during the 2005 season, including a 6-6 mark on Tuesdays.

 

GET OUT THE BROOMS

            Baylor's sweep of Stephen F. Austin last weekend was the Bears' 19th three-game series sweep in the nine-year history of Baylor Ballpark. Since the stadium's opening in 1999, the Bears are 19-2 with a chance to sweep (does not include the annual split series against Texas and Texas A&M). Baylor has won 13 consecutive series finales at Baylor Ballpark with a sweep on the line. The last time Baylor won the first two games of a home series but lost the finale was March 4, 2001, when the Bears fell to Missouri 5-4 in 10 innings. The only other such loss came April 25, 1999, against Oklahoma (15-11).

 

CASSAVECHIA NAMED TO STOPPER WATCH LIST

            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.

 

LINEBAUGH, MILLER HONORED BY BASEBALL AMERICA

            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.

 

SCHEDULE AMONG NATION'S TOUGHEST

            Baylor's 2007 schedule is projected as the nation's 20th-most difficult slate, according to Boyd Nation of BoydsWorld.com. 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.

 

BEARS PICKED FOURTH IN PRESEASON BIG 12 COACHES' POLL

            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 RANKED NATION'S 17TH-BEST PROGRAM

            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.

 

BAYLOR/ISP SPORTS NETWORK

            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 www.BaylorBears.com.

 

INSIDE BAYLOR SPORTS

            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 459-287-1 career record, all at Baylor. 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.

 

UP NEXT ...

            Baylor concludes its nine-game home stand Tuesday, Feb. 27, hosting UT-Arlington for a midweek game at Baylor Ballpark. First pitch between the Bears and the Mavericks is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. CST. This is the first of three scheduled meetings between Baylor and UTA this season.


 

 

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