WACO, Texas - It doesn't matter when it happens or how it happens. Any season-ending loss is distasteful and disgusting if you're the losing team. Unfortunately for Baylor, they have experienced that sickening feeling twice in just more than a year.
The Big 12 regular-season champions saw their magical season end with two one-run losses. Each time, a trip to the College World Series was on the line. In Sunday's Game Two of the Waco Super Regional, the Bears couldn't close out a one-run lead in the ninth inning. In Game Three, the misery was different but still miserable.
Arkansas got a two-out, run-scoring single from catcher Jake Wise - who entered the game in the eighth inning as a defensive replacement - and that was enough for the Razorbacks to edge Baylor, 1-0.
Last year, Baylor had a four-run lead in the Houston Regional and was one strike from winning and hosting a Super Regional before California scored four runs in the bottom of the ninth to win. That loss - along with the mid-season addition of a beaver mascot - provided much of the impetus for this season.
"This has been a special group of guys," coach Steve Smith of his 18th Baylor team. "This group of guys embraced me as a group. I felt their support more than any other group. I wanted them to be successful, to take that next step."
Baylor senior right hander Tyler Bremer was brilliant. In nine innings, he allowed just three hits and struck out eight. It was exactly the type of performance the Bears needed. All that was missing was a run.
"I'll remember this game for the rest of my life," Bremer said. "I'm proud of the way I pitched for the team."
Baylor got the leadoff hitter on in six of 10 innings but left 11 runners on base and hit into two double plays.
"We had some opportunities but they were up to the task," Smith said.
Baylor and Arkansas were long-time foes in the old Southwest Conference but this Super Regional was another postseason showdown between the Big 12 and the Southeastern Conference.
Two-time defending national champion South Carolina ended Oklahoma's season Monday in the Columbia Super Regional. Last Wednesday, LSU bested Oklahoma in Game Three of the Women's College World Series. And in the Final Four, Kentucky beat Kansas.
The loss ended a historic 2011-12 Baylor athletic season. Every sport made the postseason, the women's basketball team won a national championship, the men's basketball team reached the Elite Eight, Robert Griffin III won the Heisman Trophy and the baseball team dominated the Big 12, winning 24 consecutive games at one point.
"I've only been here two years," Bremer said. "As a university as a whole, it's amazing what we've done. I don't see it changing in the future. Everybody knows who Baylor University is."
Baylor shortstop Jake Miller booted a double play grounder in the ninth inning Sunday, a play that helped the Razorbacks' rally. When the starting lineups were announced, he was loudly cheered by the green and gold fans among the crowd of 5,059 at Baylor Ballpark.
"The way our fans responded to Jake and cheered for him was one of the most powerful things I have seen in sports ... I've never been more proud of our school or our fans," Smith said. "I know he appreciated it. I appreciated it. We don't see enough of that in college sports."