March 6, 2008
Complete Release in PDF Format
GAMES 10-12 MARCH 7-9 DUDY NOBLE FIELD/POLK-DEMENT STADIUM STARKVILLE, MISS.
No. 11 BAYLOR (8-1) vs. MISSISSIPPI STATE (5-4)
FRIDAY: 4:00 p.m. CST
SATURDAY: 6:00 p.m. CST
SUNDAY: 1:30 p.m. CST
Baylor returns to action this weekend, traveling to Starkville, Miss., for a three-game series at Mississippi State billed as the Cadence Bank Challenge. The Bears and the Bulldogs meet Friday at 4 p.m. CST, Saturday at 6 p.m. and Sunday at 1:30 p.m. This series begins Baylor's week-long, five-game road trip.
The Bears (8-1) split a pair of midweek games at home against Louisiana Tech, falling 9-6 Tuesday before rebounding for a 7-6 victory Wednesday. Baylor has enjoyed its best nine-game start since the 1990 squad also opened 8-1. The Bears are ranked 11th nationally by Baseball America. Baylor also is ranked 15th in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches' Poll, 16th in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Top 30 and 14th in the Collegiate Baseball Top 30.
Mississippi State (5-4) also split a pair of midweek games at home, falling to Arkansas-Little Rock 9-5 Tuesday before rebounding to defeat UALR 6-3 Wednesday. The Bulldogs lost two of three at North Florida opening weekend, topped UAB 9-2 at home last Tuesday, and won two of three at home against Air Force last weekend. Mississippi State is unranked in this week's Baseball America Top 25 and among teams also receiving votes in this week's USA Today/ESPN 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 series online at www.MStateAthletics.com, the official website of Mississippi State athletics.
PROBABLE PITCHING MATCHUPS
Baylor: RHP Kendal Volz, So. (2-0, 1.93 ERA, 14.0 IP, 2 BB, 16 K)
Mississippi State: LHP Justin Pigott, Jr. (2-0, 2.25 ERA, 12.0 IP, 5 BB, 18 K)
Baylor: RHP Shawn Tolleson, Fr. (0-0, 8.64 ERA, 8.1 IP, 5 BB, 6 K)
Mississippi State: RHP Chad Crosswhite, Jr. (0-1, 10.61 ERA, 9.1 IP, 4 BB, 8 K)
Baylor: RHP Willie Kempf, So. (1-0, 1.80 ERA, 10.0 IP, 7 BB, 8 K)
Mississippi State: RHP Rickey Bowen, So. (1-1, 12.00 ERA, 9.0 IP, 6 BB, 7 K)
Overall: Tied 3-3
Waco: Mississippi State leads 2-1
Starkville: Never Met
Neutral Site: Baylor leads 2-1
Smith vs. MSU: 0-1
First Meeting: Baylor 6, Mississippi State 3 [5/22/1978]
Last Meeting: Mississippi State 8, Baylor 6 [3/10/2007]
BAYLOR: Steve Smith
Alma Mater: Baylor, 1986
Career Record: 498-312-1 [14th season]
Record at Baylor: 498-312-1 [14th season]
MISSISSIPPI STATE: Ron Polk
Alma Mater: Grand Canyon, 1965
Career Record: 1,355-673-2 [35th season]
Record at MSU: 1,121-561-2 [29th season]
BAYLOR/ISP SPORTS NETWORK
1660 ESPN RADIO (Waco)
Tom Barfield, play-by-play
Lark Smith, color
Since the start of the 2003 season, Baylor is:
- 148-56 (.725) when its starting pitcher lasts at least 5.0 innings
- 39-9 (.813) when its pitchers record at least 10 strikeouts
- 139-40 (.777) when scoring first
- 161-31 (.839) when out-hitting its opponent
- 151-39 (.795) when holding its opponent to fewer than five runs
- 135-29 (.823) when scoring at least six runs
- 122-19 (.865) when scoring at least seven runs
Since the start of the 2002 season, Baylor is 191-10 (.950) when leading after eight innings. The Bears are 34-3 when leading after eight innings since the start of the 2007 season.
Baylor has won 31 of its last 34 games when hitting at least two home runs.
Baylor is 26-7 in regular-season midweek games since the beginning of the 2006 season. The Bears are 13-3 in such games over the past two seasons.
Baylor is 15-4 in extra-inning games since the start of the 2003 season.
Baylor has won six of its last seven home games in which the opponent scored in the first inning. The Bears are 9-3 in such games since the start of last season.
Baylor ranked third nationally with 58 triples over the past two seasons. The Bears also are one of only three programs to tally at least 20 triples each season since 2002.
SS Beamer Weems entered the 2008 season tied for 11th nationally in career triples (10) among active players.
Weems entered the 2008 season with 17 career home runs, most ever by a Baylor shortstop. He ranked first in the Big 12 and third nationally in home runs by a shortstop among active players.
RHP Nick Cassavechia entered the 2008 season with 19 career saves, tops among active Big 12 pitchers and sixth nationally.
Gregg Glime is Baylor's first switch-hitting catcher since Chad Polk (1997-1998).
BAYLOR-MISSISSIPPI STATE SERIES
Baylor and Mississippi State meet for the seventh, eighth and ninth times this weekend. The all-time series, which dates back to 1925, is tied 3-3 after Mississippi State's 8-6 victory over the Bears in the Saturday game at last year's Quala-T Imprints Baylor Classic.
Prior to last year's meeting, the last time Baylor and Mississippi State met, a trip to Omaha was on the line. After beating the Bulldogs 3-0 in the first round of the 1978 NCAA South Central Regional at Arlington Stadium, the Bears defeated UT-Pan American 3-2 and then edged Mississippi State 6-3 to win the regional and advance to the College World Series for the second straight season.
Baylor and Mississippi State first met March 23, 1925, in Waco. The Bears lost that game 10-4 but bounced back to beat the Bulldogs 6-5 the following day. The teams did not meet again until April 16, 1960, when MSU defeated Baylor 14-2 at the Easter Tournament in Monroe, La.
BAYLOR vs. THE SOUTHEASTERN CONFERENCE
Baylor is 53-51 all-time against current members of the Southeastern Conference, including a 12-13 mark during head coach Steve Smith's tenure. The majority of Baylor's history against SEC teams involves former Southwest Conference foe Arkansas, against which the Bears are 37-36 all-time.
The Bears are 5-3 against Vanderbilt, 2-6 against Louisiana State, 4-1 against Mississippi, 3-3 against Mississippi State, 1-1 against Florida, 1-0 against Tennessee and 0-1 against South Carolina.
Nine of Baylor's 31 games against SEC teams other than Arkansas have come in NCAA Tournament play; the Bears are 4-5 in those games.
OPPONENT RECORD SMITH
Arkansas 37-36 0-1
Alabama 0-0 0-0
Auburn 0-0 0-0
Florida 1-1 1-1
Georgia 0-0 0-0
Kentucky 0-0 0-0
Louisiana State 2-6 1-5
Mississippi 4-1 4-1
Mississippi State 3-3 0-1
South Carolina 0-1 0-1
Tennessee 1-0 1-0
Vanderbilt 5-3 5-3
MISSISSIPPI STATE GAME TIME CHANGED
Saturday's game at Mississippi State has been changed to a 6 p.m. CST first pitch. Originally scheduled for 2 p.m., the game was moved to avoid conflict with Mississippi State's men's basketball game against Louisiana State that was picked up for television broadcast and moved to an afternoon start.
BAYLOR COACHING STAFF FAMILIAR WITH DUDY NOBLE FIELD
Baylor head coach Steve Smith and assistant coaches Mitch Thompson and Steve Johnigan all served as assistants on Mississippi State head coach Ron Polk's staff prior to their time with the Bears. Smith was at Mississippi State from 1990 to 1994, helping the Bulldogs to four NCAA Regional appearances (1990-1993) and a 1990 College World Series appearance. Thompson was on the MSU staff during the 1990, 1992 and 1993 seasons, while Johnigan was with the Bulldogs from 1992 to 1995.
BAYLOR ENJOYS BEST START SINCE EARLY 1990s
The 2008 Bears matched the 1975, 1987 and 1993 clubs for Baylor's second-best winning streak to open a season with a 7-0 start. Only the 1984 team, which opened with 13 consecutive wins, enjoyed a better start. In fact, only three other Baylor teams have started with six straight wins -- 1947, 1949 and 1970. Prior to this season, Baylor's best start under head coach Steve Smith was 5-0 in 2006. ... At 8-1, Baylor is off to its best nine-game start since the 1990 squad also started 8-1.
Baylor is 6-0 this season in one-run games after going 4-5 in such contests last season. The Bears already are two one-run wins shy of matching their season total from 2006 (8-7). Baylor's 2005 College World Series squad was 15-8 in one-run games; the previous year, the Bears led the nation in one-run games (23) and one-run losses (16).
SMITH APPROACHES WIN No. 500
Baylor head coach Steve Smith enters the Mississippi State series two wins shy of career victory No. 500. In 14 seasons at Baylor, Smith has compiled a 498-312-1 record to rank second in school history in career victories.
TRIPS EAST OF MISSISSIPPI RIVER RARE FOR BAYLOR
This weekend's series at Mississippi State is just its second regular-season trip east of the Mississippi River since 1998. The Bears' last trip east was a three-game sweep at then-No. 8 Vanderbilt in 2005. Baylor made two trips east of the Mississippi during the 2003 postseason; the Bears won all three games at the NCAA Hattiesburg Regional, hosted by Southern Mississippi, and lost two of three at the NCAA Baton Rouge Super Regional, hosted by Louisiana State.
BEARS CLIMB TO No. 11 IN BASEBALL AMERICA TOP 25
Baylor climbed two spots to No. 11 in the latest Baseball America Top 25. It is the second consecutive week that the Bears have moved up two spots. The Bears have matched the 1987 and 1993 squads for the best start by a Baylor team since the 1984 Bears opened 13-0. Furthermore, Baylor is the only undefeated team remaining in the Big 12 Conference. The Bears also moved up to No. 15 in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll and 14th in this week's Collegiate Baseball Top 30.
BAYLOR WELL AHEAD OF 2007 HOME RUN PACE
Baylor has hit nine home runs through the season's first nine games. Last year, the Bears hit just three home runs in the season's first nine games and did not hit their ninth home run until the 16th game. RF Aaron Miller belted his fourth home run of the season in Wednesday's game against Louisiana Tech, matching his 39-game season total from last season. LF Ben Booker hit his second home run in Wednesday's game, matching his 61-game total from 2007. Booker actually hit three home runs last season, but one was negated when he passed the runner at first base.
MILLER'S NIGHT ONE FOR THE AGES
RF Aaron Miller tied Big 12 Conference and Baylor records with three home runs last Friday against Illinois. He became just the fourth player in school history to accomplish the feat, joining Jon Topolski (1998 vs. Hardin Simmons; 1998 vs. Missouri), Charley Carter (1998 vs. UTSA) and Eric Nelson (1999 at Kansas).
Miller also became just the second player with a three-homer game at Baylor Ballpark. The other player was former McNeese State star and current Major Leaguer Ben Broussard, who accomplished the feat against Baylor in 1999. Miller hit each home run against a different pitcher; his first and third home runs both came on the first pitch of the at bat.
Miller finished the night 5-for-5 with a double and six RBI; it was the 24th five-hit game in Baylor history, and he was one total base shy of tying Topolski's school record from the 1998 game against Hardin Simmons.
VOLZ LOOKS TO BUILD ON FRESHMAN SUCCESS
RHP Kendal Volz became the ninth freshman in Baylor history to record at least six victories last season. Furthermore, he is only the third to accomplish the feat during head coach Steve Smith's tenure. Here is a look at how the nine pitchers fared as sophomores and in their careers:
PLAYER YEARS FRESHMAN SOPHOMORE CAREER
Ricky Fox 1971-1974 6-4 3-5 19-17
Mike Roberts 1976-1979 6-2 3-1 20-6
Andy Beene 1976-1979 8-1 0-0 15-5
Ted Richardson 1985-1988 7-0 9-6 21-8
Bruce Aguilar 1986-1989 6-3 2-1 21-13
Aaron Lineweaver 1993-1995 9-5 4-6 16-18
Ryan LaMotta 2003-2006 7-3 2-5 21-16
Abe Woody 2003-2005 6-0 5-1 21-4
Kendal Volz 2007-present 6-2 2-0 8-2
TWO OUTLETS PICK BAYLOR FOR OMAHA
Baylor was projected as one of eight teams to reach the 2008 College World Series, according to Baseball America and SIOnCampus.com, division of Sports Illustrated. Baseball America listed the Bears in its "Eight for '08" feature at the end of the 2007 season. Sports Illustrated named Baylor to its "Eight in Omaha" list in its 2008 season preview.
BAYLOR BALLPARK CELEBRATES MILESTONE GAME
Baylor's 2008 season opener was the Bears' 300th game at Baylor Ballpark. The Bears are 225-83 (.731) at home since the stadium opened in 1999. Baylor Ballpark, which celebrates its 10th season in 2008, has drawn over 800,000 fans in its existence. Baylor is one of only eight Division I schools to average at least 2,700 fans per game each season since 2000. The facility was voted the nation's third-best college baseball stadium in a 2003 Baseball America survey.
While the season opener was the Bears' 300th game at Baylor Ballpark, the facility already had celebrated its 300th college game. Including the 1999, 2000 and 2005 NCAA Regionals and the 2006 and 2007 Quala-T Imprints Baylor Classics, a total of 16 Division I games that did not involve the Bears have been played at Baylor Ballpark.
CASSAVECHIA AMONG NATIONAL CAREER SAVES LEADERS
RHP Nick Cassavechia entered the 2008 season with 19 career saves, a total that was tied for second in Baylor history and led all active Big 12 Conference pitchers. Furthermore, Cassavechia ranked sixth nationally in career saves among active players behind only Kelly Heyne (24, Ball State), Joshua Fields (23, Georgia), Joseph Edesn (22, Samford), Daniel Kennedy (21, Georgetown) and Chris Manning (21, Belmont).
Cassavechia's career total is even more impressive considering he has been Baylor's closer for not even two full seasons. He moved into the closer role during the first week of April in 2006 and has amassed all his saves since that point. He tallied 11 saves as a junior in 2007, tying for fourth in the Big 12 and 23rd nationally. It also tied for the third-best season total in Baylor history. Cassavechia, who had eight saves as a sophomore in 2006, joins Zane Carlson (2000, 2001) as the only Baylor pitchers to record at least eight saves in consecutive seasons.
TRIPLE YOUR PLEASURE
Baylor batters tallied 58 triples over the past two seasons. Only Arizona (62) and Charlotte (59) hit more three-baggers in that time. The Bears tied for seventh nationally last season with 26 triples. In 2006, the Bears tied for second nationally with 32 triples.
Furthermore, Baylor joins Arizona and Texas as the nation's only programs to collect at least 20 triples in each of the past six seasons.
Baylor's Jon Topolski led the nation with 11 triples in 1998. Seth Fortenberry tied for third nationally with 10 triples in 2006, and Ben Booker tied for 15th nationally last season with seven. Michael Griffin was 25th nationally with 0.12 triples per game in 2003, one year after Mike Huggins was 25th nationally with 0.11 triples per contest.
FIVE BAYLOR GAMES SLATED FOR TELEVISION
Five Baylor games are scheduled for television broadcast this season, including two home games. The Bears will be on CSTV twice: April 1 at TCU (7 p.m. CT) and April 22 vs. Texas (7 p.m.). Two games will be aired on Fox College Sports: April 26 vs. Nebraska (6:30 p.m.), May 4 at Texas (1 p.m.). The Bears' May 3 game at Texas will be televised on FSN (2:30 p.m.).
Since 1988, Baylor has played on television 57 times, including a program-best 12 games in 2005. Over the past 20 years, the Bears are 28-29 in televised games.
BIG 12 COACHES PICK BAYLOR THIRD
Baylor was picked third in the 2008 Big 12 Conference Preseason Coaches' Poll. The Bears garnered one first-place vote and 65 total points, six behind second-place Missouri and five ahead of fourth-place Texas A&M.
This is Baylor's highest preseason pick by the league's coaches since 2004 when the Bears were tabbed second. The Bears have been picked fourth in the preseason poll each of the past three seasons.
Texas was the coaches' preseason favorite, picking up eight first-place votes and 80 total points; Missouri earned the final first-place vote. Oklahoma State was picked fifth, while Nebraska was slotted sixth. Kansas State and Oklahoma tied for the seventh-place spot; Kansas and Texas Tech rounded out the poll.
In the 11-year history of the Big 12, only five schools have claimed regular-season titles: Baylor (2000, 2005); Nebraska (2001, 2003, 2005); Texas (2002, 2004, 2006, 2007); Texas A&M (1998, 1999) and Texas Tech (1997).
BAYLOR IS EXTRA SPECIAL
Baylor is 15-4 in extra-inning games since the start of the 2003 season, including a 1-0 mark in such games this season. Baylor was 2-1 in extra-inning games last season, 0-1 in 2006, 6-1 in 2005, 1-0 in 2004 and 5-1 in 2003.
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 (two at the Big 12 Tournament, one in the NCAA Regional round 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 during mid-May.
FIVE BEARS EARN PRESEASON HONORS
Five Baylor players garnered preseason accolades from various publications and outlets this year, including two preseason All-America honors.
RHP Nick Cassavechia was a preseason All-America pick by Ping! Baseball (first team) and by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (third team).
SS Beamer Weems was a second-team preseason All-America selection by Rivals.com and by Ping! Baseball. He was one of four players honored by Baseball America as "Best Defensive Players," and Weems also was listed as the nation's third-best shortstop by CSTV.com. Baseball America also named Weems preseason All-Big 12 and listed him as the league's best defensive shortstop.
RHP Shawn Tolleson was ranked second nationally on the Rivals.com 2008 Impact Freshmen List. He sat out the 2007 season as a medical redshirt.
2B Raynor Campbell was named preseason All-Big 12 by Baseball America. The publication also listed him as the league's best defensive third baseman in a survey of the league's coaches (conducted last fall).
RHP Kendal Volz was named the third-best pro prospect in the Big 12 Conference for the 2009 Major League Baseball Draft.
CASSAVECHIA NAMED TO PAIR OF WATCH LISTS
RHP Nick Cassavechia was named to the 2008 Stopper of the Year Watch List, sponsored by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. Cassavechia is one of 40 pitchers -- and one of only four from the Big 12 Conference -- on the initial list for the fourth-annual award given to the nation's top college closer. This is the second consecutive year he has been named to the award's preseason watch list. Other Big 12 pitchers on the watch list are Daniel Edwards (Kansas State), Kyle Gibson (Missouri) and Kyle Thebeau (Texas A&M).
Cassavechia also has been named to the Clemens Award Watch List.
SIX BEARS ON BASEBALL AMERICA'S PRESEASON DRAFT LISTS
Baseball America, with assistance from Major League Baseball scouting directors, has compiled a list of the top 50 draft prospects in each class. Six Baylor players are on those lists, including five players from the Bears' heralded 2006 signing class.
RHP Shawn Tolleson was rated as the 15th-best prospect among freshmen; Tolleson, who missed the 2007 season with a medical redshirt, will be draft eligible in 2009 after his sophomore seasons.
Four Bears appearend on the sophomore list: RF Aaron Miller (11th), RHP Kendal Volz (14th), 1B Dustin Dickerson (32nd) and 2B Raynor Campbell (50th). Of that group, only Campbell is draft eligible this season as he turns 21 within 45 days of the draft. Miller was an 11th-round draft pick of the Colorado Rockies in 2006. Dickerson (15th round, Washington Nationals) and Volz (50th round, Arizona Diamondbacks) also were drafted that year.
RHP Randall Linebaugh was rated as the 14th-best prospect among seniors. Linebaugh, one of only two three-year lettermen on Baylor's 2008 roster, has never been drafted.
WEEMS NAMED TO GOLDEN SPIKES AWARD WATCH LIST
SS Beamer Weems was named to the 2008 Golden Spikes Award Preseason Watch List. He is one of 75 players on the list, which is the first of its kind for the Golden Spikes Award. The list is rolling, which means other players may be added throughout the season.
The Golden Spikes Award is sponsored by Major League Baseball and administered by USA Baseball. This is the 31st year of the award. Past winners include Terry Francona (1980), Will Clark (1985), Robin Ventura (1988), Jason Varitek (1994) and Baylor's Jason Jennings (1999). David Price of Vanderbilt was the 2007 Golden Spikes Award winner.
CASSAVECHIA, WEEMS NAMED TO WALLACE WATCH LIST
RHP Nick Cassavechia and SS Beamer Weems were named to the 2008 Brooks Wallace Award Preseason Watch List. Weems also was on the award's preseason watch list last year, while Cassavechia makes his first appearance.
Dedicated to the memory of late Texas Tech shortstop and assistant coach Brooks Wallace, the award is in its fifth year and is given annually to the nation's top collegiate baseball player. Past winners are Kurt Suzuki (catcher, Cal State Fullerton, 2004), Alex Gordon (third baseman, Nebraska, 2005), Brad Lincoln (pitcher/designated hitter, Houston, 2006) and David Price (pitcher, Vanderbilt, 2007).
BEARS ON SHORT LIST FOR RECENT NCAA SUCCESS
Baylor is one of 15 NCAA Division I programs and one of only two from the Big 12 Conference with at least nine NCAA Tournament appearances in the past 10 years. The Bears have made nine tournament appearances in that time (missing only the 2004 event) with three Super Regional appearances and one College World Series appearance.
Others on the elite list are: Arizona State (9), Cal State Fullerton (10), Clemson (10), Florida State (10), Miami, Fla. (10), Mississippi State (9), North Carolina (9), Oral Roberts (10), Rice (10), South Carolina (9), Stanford (9), Texas (9), Tulane (9) and Wichita State (9). Of that list, only Tulane did not participate in the 2007 NCAA Tournament.
BAYLOR AMONG NATIONAL APR LEADERS
Baylor received a public recognition award from the NCAA Division I Academic Performance Program in 2007 for having an Academic Progress Rate (APR) score that ranks among the top 10 percent within their sport. The Bears' most-recent APR score was 983 with an adjusted squad size mark of 992. Baylor was one of 30 Division I programs honored by the NCAA. Head coach Steve Smith's squad was the only of Baylor's 19 varsity teams so honored.
Baylor concludes its week-long, five-game road trip with a two-game series at Oral Roberts. The Bears and the Golden Eagles meet Tuesday and Wednesday with first pitch scheduled for 3 p.m. CST both days.
The Bears hold a 16-14 advantage in the all-time series, which dates back to a three-game series at Oral Roberts in 1978. The series is tied 4-4 in games played at Tulsa, where Baylor has not played since an 8-6 ORU victory March 7, 1994.
This is the third time in the last four seasons Baylor and Oral Roberts have met for at least a two-game series. In 2005, the Bears took two of three from the Golden Eagles at Baylor Ballpark, rebounding from a 9-3 loss in the series for wins of 2-1 and 4-0 in the series' final two games. Last season in Waco, Baylor won the series opener 3-2 in 10 innings and the second game 12-7 before Oral Roberts took the finale 4-2.
The Bears are 26-7 in regular-season midweek contests since the start of the 2006 season, including a 13-3 mark over the past two seasons. In Baylor's 2005 College World Series campaign, the Bears were just 7-8 in regular-season midweek games.