HOUSTON – In NCAA regional baseball play, losing the opener can be a season killer.
But it doesn’t have to be.
Baylor coach Steve Rodriguez didn’t reveal his pitching plan for the Bears’ Saturday elimination game following BU’s opening 8-5 loss to Texas A&M at Schroeder Park. But he didn’t mince words, either.
The Bears will pull out all the stops. It’s emergency time – all hands on deck. When you’re one loss away from elimination, that’s the way it goes.
“I’m going to wake up, we’re going to have breakfast,” Rodriguez said. “You know what, we’re going to figure out how it goes. It’s a one-game season now. So everybody is going to be on deck with regard to the bullpen. Put it this way, there’s going to be no card left unplayed. Whatever we have to do to win that game tomorrow, that’s what we’re going to do.”
Second-seeded Baylor will face either Houston or Iowa at 2 p.m. Saturday. If the Bears survive that game, they’d need to win a pair of games on Sunday to force a final game for the regional championship at 6 p.m. Monday.
At this point, the only pitcher Baylor has probably burned for the weekend is Friday’s starter Montana Parsons, who tossed 96 pitches over five innings of work. Joe Heineman threw 44 pitches in a 2.1-inning stint, while Kyle Ott (13 pitches) and Kyle Hill (12) saw limited action.
New field smell
The NCAA tournament is foreign territory for Baylor’s players, as the program is making its first postseason appearance since 2012.
Did that lack of experience lead to some nerves? Possibly, said Rodriguez.
“This is the first postseason game any of our guys have played in,” the Baylor coach said. “So the fight that they gave, and obviously we didn’t play well in certain aspects, but the fight.”
Texas A&M has made 11 straight NCAA tournaments, so the Aggies are familiar with this stage.
“Looking at the result, maybe (the experience did play a role),” A&M coach Rob Childress said. “That would be the easy thing to say. Coach Rodriguez has done an amazing job in a short period of time. His team believes in him and the rest of that coaching staff. The play hard and loose. For them to be in a regional two short years into his tenure isn’t a surprise to me and our staff at all.”
While the crowd at Schroeder Park tended to sway green or maroon for the opening game of the regional, a few Houston and Iowa fans showed up early.
One red-attired Houston fan sported the best T-shirt of the day. It read, “Friends Don’t Let Friends Wear Orange or Maroon.”