MattBob's Baseball Report-Baylor

Oklahoma State opened the Big 12 Tournament on a sour note late Wednesday night. The Cowboys were hard luck 3-1 losers to a Baylor team they swept handily in the regular season. The loss awakened some fears that Cowboy fans had. OSU, despite its record, has been struggling in big series, and Frank Anderson teams have now lost their last six Big 12 tourney games.

Midweek starter Joe Kent got the call to the mound Wednesday and pitched beyond expectations. Kent has been successful in midweek games, including only allowing one run against No. 12 Wichita State last week. Locked in a pitcher's duel Wednesday night/early Thursday morning, Kent answer the call carrying a no-hitter for four and a third innings and not allowing a run until the seventh. Kent struck out a career-high 8 batters in a career-high six and a third innings of work. Outside of two pitches that ended up as home runs, Kent pitched one of the best starts of any Cowboy pitcher all year.

Normally holding an opponent to just three runs is enough to get the job done for the Cowboy lineup. The Cowboys managed seven hits against Baylor Wednesday night but hit into a pair of double plays. Those double plays killed both the Cowboys chance of a big inning, but also had a noticeable affect on the mood in the dugout.

With the loss, the Cowboys opened the door for Baylor to win all its three games and win the pool. The best news Cowboys have is that before OSU took the field they already knew second-seeded Missouri had lost to OU. The Cowboys don't need to worry about tie-breakers just yet because the Cowboys have to beat OU and Missouri for tie-breakers to matter.

Jordy Mercer earned the nickname "Sooner Killer" for his play in Oklahoma City and Tulsa versus the in-state rival. However, his play in Big 12 Tournaments has been less than stellar. In his four career Big 12 tournament games, the young shortstop has accounted for six errors. Considering the number of problems Mercer and Tyler Mach had turning double plays in the Missouri series, the play of Mercer and Mach in the field is certainly something to watch.

It is not often that someone is struggling at the plate has a hitting streak. Ty Wright has an active 32-game hitting streak, but his batting average has dropped 30 points in the last two weeks. Ty Wright went from one of the best hitters in the country, batting just under .450 to only batting .300 in the month of May. In the last two weeks he is batting just .230. Ty continues to get his hit to keep the streak alive, but multi-hit games which were a staple of the streak early in the season are becoming few and far between.

One Cowboy that is playing hot right now is senior Keanon Simon. Simon's glove has always been one of the most stable forces in the field for the Pokes, and consider how their defense has been playing that level of excellence cannot be overlooked. However, Simon's bat of late is doing its fair share of talking. Keanon has put together a smaller nine-game hitting streak over which he is batting .405. Keanon makes contact and puts the ball in play. Playing in ballparks like Oklahoma City Bricktown Ballyard means he can take extra bases because the power alleys are so deep.

OSU's next opponent is rival OU. The Sooners are fresh off an impressive 7-2 victory over Missouri. The Sooner will throw ace Stephen Porlier against the Cowboys. Porlier has been on of the best pitchers in the Big 12 this year. In the first meeting this season, Porlier pitched five and 2/3 innings striking out seven Cowboy batters. He received a no-decision for his four earned run outing after the Sooner bullpen gave up a pair of home runs that were the difference in the final score.

The Cowboys will most likely counter Porlier with Jeff Breedlove. The sidearm pitcher pitched five and a third innings against Oklahoma and only allowed four earned runs in the effort. If the Cowboys are to win their pool and have any hope of improving their host draw they have to beat OU.

The pool play format of the Big 12 Tournament eliminated the loser's bracket and in doing so takes away a sense of urgency. This is an important game to Oklahoma and it should be for Cowboys. The Cowboys need to show the selection committee that they are not on a losing streak to avoid drawing a bad regional location.

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