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Bears, Aggies Meet for Annual Battle of the Brazos

SS Beamer Weems was 7-for-11 with two doubles, a home run and four RBI in three games against Texas A&M last season.

SS Beamer Weems was 7-for-11 with two doubles, a home run and four RBI in three games against Texas A&M last season.

April 26, 2007

GAMES 44-46 • APRIL 27-29 • 6:30 P.M./3 P.M./1 P.M. CDT

BAYLOR (24-19, 7-11) vs. No. 18 TEXAS A&M (33-10, 9-8)






BAYLOR:          Steve Smith

            Alma Mater:      Baylor, 1986

            Career Record:  478-303-1 [13th season]

            Record at Baylor:          478-303-1 [13th season]


TEXAS A&M:    Rob Childress

            Alma Mater:      Northwood, 1990

            Career Record:  58-40-1 [2nd season]

            Record at Texas A&M:   58-40-1 [2nd season]



1660 ESPN RADIO (Waco)

            Tom Barfield, play-by-play

            Lark Smith, color



GameTracker:    www.BaylorBears.com

Audio:  www.BaylorBears.com

Video (Friday):  www.BaylorBears.com

Video (Saturday/Sunday):          www.AggieAthletics.com



Baseball America          NR

USA Today/ESPN Coaches       NR

NCBWA            NR

Collegiate Baseball        NR



Friday, April 27

BU        RHP Jeff Mandel (5-6, 4.19 ERA, 68.2 IP, 71 H, 22 BB, 61 K)

TAMU   RHP Kyle Nicholson (9-1, 1.24 ERA, 79.2 IP, 56 H, 12 BB, 62 K)


Saturday, April 28

BU        RHP Randall Linebaugh (2-4, 5.40 ERA, 58.1 IP, 60 H, 26 BB, 37 K)

TAMU   LHP David Newmann (6-1, 3.45 ERA, 60.0 IP, 43 H, 26 BB, 59 K)


Sunday, April 29

BU        RHP Kendal Volz (5-1, 4.98 ERA, 47.0 IP, 57 H, 12 BB, 37 K)




Baylor baseball returns to action this weekend with the annual Battle of the Brazos against Texas A&M. This is a split series, starting Friday at 6:30 p.m. CDT at Baylor Ballpark. The series then shifts to Olsen Field in College Station for Saturday's 3 p.m. contest and Sunday's 1 p.m. finale. This is the seventh Big 12 series for both teams.

            Baylor (24-19, 7-11) has won three straight for the first time since a seven-game streak in early February after a pair of midweek wins. The Bears won Tuesday night at Texas State and Wednesday night at home against Prairie View A&M by scores of 14-3 and 4-2, respectively. Baylor is 6-4 in its last 10 games. The Bears are unranked in all four major polls.

            Texas A&M (33-10, 9-8) defeated Stephen F. Austin 6-0 at home Wednesday night. The Aggies have not lost more than two games in a row this season. Texas A&M is 3-2-1 in Big 12 series this season with wins over Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri and losses to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. The Aggies split a rain-shortened two-game series at Texas Tech. Texas A&M is ranked 18th in this week's Baseball America Top 25. The Aggies also are ranked 16th in this week's USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll, 18th in this week's Collegiate Baseball Top 30 and 16th in this week's NCBWA Top 30.

            The Bears and the Aggies have played 12 common opponents this season:  Houston, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Rice, Stephen F. Austin, TCU, UT-Arlington, UTSA, Texas Tech and Texas State. Baylor is 18-11 against those teams, while Texas A&M is 16-7.

            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 Texas A&M series. The Friday game is available at www.BaylorBears.com, while the Saturday and Sunday games are available at www.AggieAthletics.Com. For more information, follow the Baylor All-Access link at www.BaylorBears.com.



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

            - 135-53 (.718) when its starting pitcher lasts at least 5.0 innings

            - 35-8 (.814) when its pitching staff records at least 10 strikeouts

            - 126-39 (.764) when scoring first

            - 145-29 (.833) when out-hitting its opponent

            - 140-37 (.791) when holding its opponent to fewer than five runs

            - 122-26 (.824) when scoring at least six runs

            - 109-18 (.858) when scoring at least seven runs

• Since the start of the 2002 season, Baylor is 175-8 (.956) when leading after eight innings, winning 35 of the last 36, 69 of the last 71 and 104 of the last 107 such games.

• Baylor has won 25 of its last 27 games when hitting at least two home runs.

• Baylor is 14-4 in extra-inning games since the start of the 2003 season.

• The Bears are 51-17 (.750) at Baylor Ballpark since the start of the 2005 postseason.

• Baylor is 19-3 all-time at Baylor Ballpark in finales with a chance to sweep a three-game series (does not include the Texas and Texas A&M split series).

• The Bears have out-scored their opponents 68-28 in the first two innings and 43-17 in the eighth inning this season. However, opponents have out-scored Baylor 39-10 in the third inning.

• Baylor is 17-8 this season when scoring first (7-11 when the opponent scores first).

• The Bears are 0-6 this season in Big 12 Conference series middle games. The Bears have lost eight consecutive weekend middle games.

• Baylor is 3-8 on Saturday this season, going 21-11 elsewhere in the week.

• 13 of Baylor's 19 losses were to opponents ranked at some point this season.



            Baylor and Texas A&M meet for the 253rd, 254th and 255th times this weekend. The Aggies hold a 139-112-1 advantage in the all-time series, the second-most played series in Baylor baseball history behind only Texas (318). The Bears have won seven of the last nine meetings, including taking two of three games last season. Baylor and Texas A&M first met April 9, 1904.

            The Bears hold a 72-66 advantage in games played in Waco. Texas A&M holds a 69-34-1 advantage in games played at College Station; however, the Bears have won five of the last seven at Olsen Field, and Baylor is 8-3 at Texas A&M since the 2000 season. Baylor leads the series 6-4 in neutral-site games.

            Baylor leads the series 20-12 since the beginning of Big 12 Conference play in 1997 with a 19-11 edge in regular-season meetings. The Bears have won six of the last seven series, taking only one of three games in the 2001 series. Baylor has the only series sweeps during the Big 12 era, doing so in 2000 and 2005.

            The Bears and the Aggies began using the current split-series format in 1993. Since that time, the home team is 24-18. Only three times (1999, 2002 and 2006) has the home team won all three games. In 2001, the visiting team won all three games.

            Last season, Texas A&M took the series opener 4-2 at Olsen Field. Baylor then won both games at Baylor Ballpark. In the Saturday game, the Bears scored three first-inning runs en route to a 4-1 victory. Baylor rallied for four ninth-inning runs for a 9-8 victory in the series finale.


Overall Record: Texas A&M leads 139-112-1

            Waco:   Baylor leads 72-66

            College Station:            Texas A&M leads 69-34-1

            Neutral Site:      Baylor leads 6-4

            Since Start of Big 12:    Baylor leads 20-12

            Regular-Season Big 12: Baylor leads 19-11

Smith vs. Texas A&M:   23-15

First Meeting:    4/9/1904

Last Meeting:    at Baylor 9, Texas A&M 8 [4/23/2006]



            Baylor is 51-17 at home since the beginning of the 2005 postseason, including a 19-9 mark this season. The Bears are 213-81 all-time at Baylor Ballpark. On the flip side, Baylor is just 5-10 away from Baylor Ballpark this season. The Bears have posted a .304 batting average and a 3.59 ERA at home; however, Baylor has a .236 batting average and a 5.60 ERA on the road.



            Baylor has posted an 2-9 record this season against nationally ranked opponents, including an 0-5 mark against teams ranked in the top 10.

            The 2005 Bears established a school record with 18 wins against ranked teams and nine wins against teams ranked in the top 10, marks previously held by the 2003 team that went 14-16 against ranked teams and 8-10 against top-10 opponents.



            IF Raynor Campbell and RF Aaron Miller are among the top freshmen in the Big 12 Conference, statistically speaking. Through games of April 25, Campbell ranks first in the league in batting average (.336) among freshmen with at least 2.5 at bats per team game. Miller, meanwhile, leads all freshmen in home runs (four), triples (four) and RBI (35); he also is second in hits (40).



            RHP Kendal Volz is tied for the Big 12 Conference for wins by a freshman with five. He is the first Baylor freshman to earn five victories in a season since Ryan LaMotta (seven) and Abe Woody (six) in 2003. In fact, Volz is only the 14th Baylor freshman since 1968 to earn five or more wins. Aaron Lineweaver established Baylor's record for wins by a freshman with nine in 1993.

            Here is a look at the five Baylor freshmen who have earned at least five wins during head coach Steve Smith's tenure:

            YEAR   PITCHER                ERA           W-L      G/GS    Sv        IP         H          R          ER        BB        K

            1995     Matthew Marcom     3.28            5-2        27/0      4          49.1      53         21         18         23         25

            1996     Kip Wells                6.27            5-6        15/11    1          80.2      98         69         56         35         44

            2003     Ryan LaMotta          3.48            7-3        30/3      3          75.0      63         39         29         32         62

            2003     Abe Woody            4.22            6-0        27/2      3          59.2      45         35         28         18         41

            2007     Kendal Volz            4.98            5-1        12/9      0          47.0      57         27         26         12         37



            RHP Nick Cassavechia was one of 40 pitchers named to the midseason watch list for the 2007 National Stopper of the Year, the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association announced Thursday. Cassavechia is one of five Big 12 pitchers on the list; the Big 12 and the Atlantic Coast Conference led all conferences with five selections.

            A product of St. Mark's High School in Dallas, Cassavechia is 4-1 with eight saves and a 1.65 ERA. In 32.2 innings this season, he has held opponents to six runs on 23 hits and a .200 batting average. Cassavechia has 44 strikeouts against only seven walks for a strikeouts-per-nine-innings average of 12.12 and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 6.29.

            Tuesday, he recorded only one strikeout in one inning of work, snapping a streak of 10 consecutive outings with at least two strikeouts. Last Sunday, he issued a career-high three walks (one of which was intentional) in 4.0 innings. Prior to that outing, Cassavechia had gone 12 consecutive appearances without a walk; in that time, he logged 31 strikeouts against no walks over 20.0 innings.

            Cassavechia, who earlier this season had a streak of 22 consecutive inherited runners stranded, leads all Big 12 pitchers in team win participation; he has participated in 12 of Baylor's 24 wins this season (50.0 percent). He is fourth in the league and tied for 27th nationally in saves. In Big 12 games, Cassavechia ranks third in ERA (1.86) and tied for second in saves (three). In 19.1 innings over nine Big 12 appearances, he has recorded 25 strikeouts against three walks.

            Though he has been Baylor's primary closer for only slightly more than one calendar month, Cassavechia already ranks among the program's top closers. He ranks fourth in career saves (16) and is tied with Abe Woody for second in Big 12 saves (eight). Cassavechia and Zane Carlson are the only pitchers in Baylor history to record at least eight saves in multiple seasons.



            Often times, raw statistics do not tell the entire story. That is the case with RHP Jeff Mandel, who has pitched much more remarkably than his 5-6 record and his 4.19 ERA may indicate.

            Mandel has logged at least 6.0 innings in eight of his 11 starts and has held the opponent to three or fewer runs in all eight of those starts. In fact, he has held the opponent to two runs or less six times. In those eight starts, Mandel is 5-3 with a 2.06 ERA.

            However, Mandel's numbers could be even better. Baylor is averaging 6.3 runs per game this season but the Bears have given Mandel only 4.4 runs of support per start -- the lowest of the six pitchers who have started a game for Baylor this season. Had Baylor scored at least four runs in each of Mandel's 11 starts this season, he would 7-3 with one no-decision.



            Baylor's 2007 schedule is rated as the nation's 23rd-toughest, according listings at www.BoydsWorld.com. The Bears' schedule ranks fourth among Big 12 Conference schools behind only Nebraska (10th), Texas (14th) and Oklahoma (15th). The Big 12 is the nation's only conference with five schools in the top 25 as Kansas is 21st. In fact, only two teams in the top 20 -- No. 8 Rice (Conference USA) and No. 3 Oral Roberts (Mountain West Conference) -- hail from conferences other than the Big 12, the Pac-10, the Big West or the West Coast Conference.

            Not surprisingly, 14 of the top 20 teams nationally in strength of schedule are from California. Also not surprisingly, Baylor has faced or will face four of the top 20 teams -- Rice, Nebraska, Texas and Oklahoma. Thus far, Baylor is 2-5 against those teams.



            For the first time ever, the NCAA released RPI ratings prior to tournament selection earlier this week. Baylor was 45th through games of April 22; 45th is usually the approximate cutoff for at large teams. The Bears are seventh among Big 12 Conference teams, trailing Texas A&M (fourth), Texas (sixth), Oklahoma (18th), Nebraska (22nd), Kansas State (31st) and Missouri (32nd). Oklahoma State is 59th, Texas Tech is 64th and Kansas is 113th. Currently, the Big 12 ranks second nationally in conference RPI behind only the Southeastern Conference.

            RPI is one of the key components used by the NCAA Tournament selection committee, along with overall record, conference finish, conference RPI, strength of schedule, record against RPI top 50, record against RPI top 100 and percentage of games against RPI top 100.

            Through games of April 25, Baylor has played 67.4 percent of its games (29 of 43) against RPI top 100 teams, going 13-16 in those games. Baylor is 4-10 against RPI top 50 teams with six of those losses coming against teams ranked seventh or better -- 0-1 against Vanderbilt (first), 0-1 against Rice (second), 0-3 against Texas (sixth) and 0-1 against Mississippi State (seventh).



            CF Chase Gerdes enters the Texas A&M series ranked eighth in Baylor history with 89 career Big 12 games played. He should pass Josh Ford (90, 2002-05) and tie Zach Dillon (92, 2003-06) this weekend. Should Gerdes play in each of the Bears' nine remaining conference games, he would finish sixth all-time at Baylor in career Big 12 games. Gerdes' total would rank as the third-best in school history since the league schedule was cut to 27 games in 2002, trailing only Michael Griffin (105 games, 2002-05) and Paul Witt (99 games, 2002-05). Griffin is the only Bear to have played in every Big 12 game during his career.

            Gerdes also is climbing several other Baylor all-time career charts. Entering the Texas A&M series, he is tied for fifth in triples (15), tied for sixth in Big 12 triples (four), tied for ninth in stolen bases (49) and tied for 10th hit by pitch (19). He is just outside the top 10 in sacrifices. Gerdes, one of only four players in Baylor history to record 10-plus stolen bases in four different seasons, is one stolen base shy of becoming the first Bear to reach 50 career stolen bases since Anthony Hensley reached the milestone during the 2000 season.

            RHP Nick Cassavechia has quickly etched his name among Baylor's all-time best closers. Despite having spent slightly over one calendar year as the Bears' closer, he already ranks fourth in school history with 16 career saves behind only Zane Carlson (37 saves, 2000-04), Abe Woody (19, 2003-05) and Kyle Edens (18, 1999-02). Cassavechia is tied with Woody for second in career Big 12 saves with eight; Carlson owns the school record with 17.

            Cassavechia ranks eighth all-time at Baylor with 53 career relief appearances. Cassavechia has made 21 relief appearances in Big 12 play, tied for seventh in Baylor history.



            RHP Nick Cassavechia has recorded a decision in 50.0 percent of Baylor's 24 victories this season, logging eight saves and four wins. That is the best percentage in the Big 12 Conference, ranking slightly ahead of Kansas State's Daniel Edwards (46.2 percent). In fact, Cassavechia, Edwards and Missouri's Kyle Gibson (42.9 percent) are the only Big 12 pitchers to have recorded a decision in at least 40 percent of their respective teams' victories this season.



            Through games of April 25, Baylor is tied for the the Big 12 Conference lead with 22 triples this season. The Bears rank fifth nationally with 0.54 triples per game. Baylor joins Jackson State (33), Arizona (25), Charlotte (25), Brigham Young (22) and Texas (22) as the nation's only three teams with at least 22 triples this season.

            LF Ben Booker is tied for the league lead with five triples, while RF Aaron Miller and SS Beamer Weems are tied for fifth with four. CF Chase Gerdes has three triples, and 1B/DH Dustin Dickerson has two. IF Raynor Campbell, 3B Seth Hammock, 2B Shaver Hansen and 1B/DH Tim Jackson have one triple each. Booker is 35th nationally with 0.13 three-baggers per game, while Weems is 57th (0.11) and Miller is 66th (0.10).

            Baylor tied a single-game school record earlier this season with three triples earlier this season against Texas Southern. It marked the fifth time in school history and the second time this season the Bears have tallied three triples in one game. Weems had two triples against Texas Southern, also tying Baylor's single-game record. He became the first Bear to collected two triples in one game since April 6, 2002, when Chris Durbin had two triples 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.



            Baylor is 14-4 in extra-inning games since the start of the 2003 season, including a 2-1 mark in such games this season. Last year, the Bears lost their only extra-inning game -- a 13-inning, 7-6 loss at home to Texas. Baylor was 6-1 in extra-inning games in 2005, 1-0 in 2004 and 5-1 in 2003.

            Five of the 14 wins over the past five seasons have come on an opponent's home field (Arizona twice, Arizona State, Texas and Vanderbilt). Three of the 14 wins were either neutral-site games or games at Baylor Ballpark in which the Bears were the visitor. Four of the 14 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.



            Baylor is 22-5 in non-conference midweek games since the start of the 2006 season, including a 19-4 mark on Tuesdays. The loss to TCU two weeks ago snapped a 12-game winning streak for the Bears in Tuesday games; Baylor also had won 19 straight Tuesday home games against non-ranked opponents. The Bears were 7-8 in non-conference midweek games during the 2005 season, including a 6-6 mark on Tuesdays.



            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.


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 478-303-1 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.



            Baylor returns to action Tuesday, May 1, traveling to Fort Worth, Texas, for a midweek game against TCU. First pitch between the Bears and the Horned Frogs is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. CDT at Lupton Stadium on the TCU campus. The game will be televised nationally on CSTV.




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