By Wendell Barnhouse | firstname.lastname@example.org
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – Baylor and Nebraska have each played in the most Big 12 Championship games (six). The Bears, though, are the first team to twice make it through pool play with a perfect (3-0) record.
Baylor rolled to a 6-3 victory over Kansas Saturday night to close out pool play in the 2010 Championship. The sixth-seeded Bears face fourth-seeded Texas A&M at 1 p.m. Sunday on FSN for the trophy and the Big 12’s automatic NCAA tournament bid.
The Bears rested four starters and still were efficient in knocking off the Jayhawks. Baylor scored once in the first, twice in the second and three times in the sixth to build a 6-0 lead. Kansas countered with a three-run sixth of its own but Baylor’s pitching and defense prevented the Jayhawks from getting any closer. The Bears turned four double plays, equaling a Big 12 Championship single-game record.
Baylor coach Steve Smith, who thought playing Kansas in a meaningless game would be “fun” and “developmental” for some of his bench players, went into “winning” mode pretty quickly.
“Pretty quickly into it, you want to win,” said Smith, whose team has a season-high eight-game winning streak. “That whole development thing we talked about, that got done to some extent.”
Shortstop Landis Ware, who hits ninth in the Baylor order, had a two-run single in the second and a two-run homer in the sixth. In Baylor’s three victories, he has eight RBI. Logan Vick had a triple to start the game and Chris Slater, who started in place of right fielder Cal Towey, had a double and triple.
“I’m pretty sure every guy on the roster would love to be in the lineup every day, so you definitely want to hustle on every opportunity you get,” Slater said.
The Jayhawks, who closed the season with a six-game losing streak, finished 0-3 in pool play for the second year in a row. Kansas has not won a game in Big 12 Championship play since winning the tournament in 2006.
While Nebraska has won four titles with three of those coming at Baylor’s expense. And the last and only time Texas A&M has captured the crown (2007) it came against the Bears.