Bears claw past Stanford to reach super regionals
1. Baylor (39-21) -- at-large berth, shared Big 12 regular season title, 12th NCAA tournament
2. TCU (40-18) -- at-large berth, second in C-USA and shared tournament title, fourth NCAA tournament, second consecutive appearance
3. Stanford (32-23) -- at-large berth, tied for sixth in Pac-10, 25th NCAA tournament, 12th consecutive appearance
4. UT San Antonio (27-32) -- automatic berth, won Southland tournament, second NCAA tournament
Waco Regional schedule
At Baylor Ballpark
Friday, June 3
Game 1 -- TCU (40-18) vs. Stanford (32-23), ppd. rain
Game 2 -- Baylor (39-21) vs. Texas-San Antonio (27-32), ppd. rain
Saturday, June 4
Game 1 -- TCU 5, Stanford 1
Game 2 -- Baylor 8, Texas-San Antonio 3
Sunday, June 5
Game 3 -- Stanford 6, Texas-San Antonio 2, Texas-San Antonio eliminated
Game 4 -- Baylor 8, TCU 3
Game 5 -- Stanford 12, TCU 4, TCU eliminated
Monday, June 6
Game 6 -- Baylor 5, Stanford 4, 12 inn. Stanford eliminated
Baylor (42-21) advances to super regionals
Player To Watch
Plenty of good arms will take the mound in Waco, but the most successful season of any of them belongs to TCU junior right-hander Lance Broadway. His polish and power breaking ball have resulted in a 14-1, 1.67 record. He's tied for the national lead in wins, ranks seventh in ERA, and his 12 strikeouts per nine innings rank ninth. Broadway transferred in from Dallas Baptist to compete in this tournament, and he'll need another dominating start to keep the Horned Frogs alive.
Broadway can be great, but Baylor's staff offers several pitchers capable of matching his performance. Mark McCormick (7-3, 3.08 with 91 strikeouts) leads as sturdy a rotation as there is in college baseball, and relievers Abe Woody, Ryan LaMotta and Jeff Mandel have proven capable of holding any lead. Their combined 15-4, 2.40 record and 16 saves explain Baylor's 31-2 record when leading after seven innings. Senior catcher/DH Josh Ford's .324/.438/.502 numbers lead an offense that tends to prove productive when needed, and more impressive than statistics display. Junior first baseman Kyle Reynolds leads the team with eight homers, but he likely will miss regionals with a broken left thumb.
On The Other Hand
Broadway would make TCU a nice upset pick in a lot of brackets, but he might have to go against Stanford in the opener. The rest of the staff showed flashes of dominance at times but was also inconsistent, posting a 4.48 ERA. If the Frogs can win the opener without using their ace, their chances to capture the regional will skyrocket. Having an offense that hit 74 home runs in 58 games while batting .311 helps that cause as well, because it keeps on scoring when pitching thins out for all teams. Sophomores Shelby Ford (.377-7-37) and Chad Huffman (.348-12-51) lead the attack.
Stanford hasn't played a postseason game away from Sunken Diamond (or Rosenblatt Stadium) since 1995, so it's weird seeing the Cardinal in Texas and in this role. Maybe Stanford will relish the rare chance to play as an underdog. Its juniors, who were around in 2003 when the Cardinal came within one win of the CWS title, have served as targets all year. Second baseman Jed Lowrie (.324/.421/.594) and first baseman John Mayberry Jr. (.301/.396/.461) haven't replicated their sophomore success after losing their protection in the lineup. Classmates Jeff Gilmore (10-2, 3.56) and Mark Romanczuk (5-6, 4.33) must pitch their best games of the year for Stanford to avoid falling in the regional round for the second consecutive year.
Don't Forget About Us
The only tournament team with a losing record, UT San Antonio lost its first 11 games of the year and four of its last five before notching four straight wins to capture the Southland tournament. The Roadrunners beat Notre Dame and Oral Roberts on consecutive days in March, and Baylor needed single tallies in the eighth and ninth innings to top UTSA 6-5 on May 3. Junior shortstop Ryan Crew led the team in average (.368) and slugging (.541), and senior left-hander Aaron Rodriguez earned five of his eight wins in conference play.
Will Kimmey covers college baseball for Baseball America.