The Golden Bears look to continue their improbable run this weekend, with a super regional against fellow upset advancer Dallas Baptist. The games will be played in Santa Clara, so if you’re in the area go check a game out. Dallas Baptist isn’t a program you hear much about, so what do they have to offer?
One thing that has to be noted before I delve into the preview: this team plays some higher level schools, but they also play quite a bit of poor competition. Their stats, which would look incredibly impressive on a Pac-10 team, may not be as imposing just because they often play against Indiana State, Binghamton, Southern Illinois, Houston Baptist, Arkansas Pine-Bluff, and other smaller schools.
Pitching is not their strength, even though they did have a pair of their pitchers selected in the MLB Draft. Brandon Williamson was drafted in the twentieth round by the Brewers and had a 10-3 record. His ERA was 3.98, but his FIP of 4.95 suggests it should be higher. In all honesty, I was unable to find anything about his repertoire or what he throws. The only thing I can say is, with a 5.23 K/9, is that he is not missing a lot of bats and the Bears should be able to put the ball in play. After him is Jared Stafford, who’s probably their best pitcher in terms of statistics. His 3.03 ERA is better than Williamson’s, as is his 4.46 FIP. The senior is another pitch to contact guy, with only a 5.35 K/9. I couldn’t find anything about his stuff either, but he’s described as a “performance pitcher” and wasn’t drafted, which suggests (along with his K rate) that the Bears should be able to make contact and see how things go from there. I’d guess Will Lane will take back over the third starter role, as he made the start for them last week in that role. He had the fourth lowest ERA on the team, at 4.58. He does have a 3-1 record. He has the least luck on the staff, with his FIP just .12 runs higher, at 4.7. He strikes out more guys (6.03) but he also walks a ton of men (6.99 BB/9). That’s almost 5 walks more per nine innings than Stafford. He also has no information on his stuff on the Web, so don’t look at me for that. I’d assume he’s one of those guys with above-average stuff but absolutely no clue where the ball’s going. The Patriots best pitcher is their closer, Chris Haney. He was a San Diego Padre pick in the twentieth round. He posted a 4-2 record, with a 2.34 ERA and 15 saves during the season. I know the Bears are good at late inning comebacks, but this is not a team you want to wait around on to score runs on.
No discussion of this offense can go without mentioning some of the crooked numbers they’ve posted this year; they’ve dropped 25, 21, 20, 17, 16, 14, and 13 on teams at different points this year. Much of it has to do with competition, but those are impressive numbers nonetheless. The offense is led by Jason Krizan, an eighth round pick who’s nominated for the Golden Spikes Award, only the most prestigious award in college baseball. He hit .419 this season, knocked out 10 home runs, and cranked out 39 doubles. His wOBA (an advanced stat that’s numbers are scaled similarly to OBP; .330 is considered average in the MLB) is at .519, which is one of the most ridiculous numbers I’ve seen all year. That’s 50 points higher than Anthony Rendon, who was selected sixth overall. And he’s not the only bat in the lineup; Landon Anderson hit .358 and stole 21 bases on the year, and Tyler Robbins hit 10 home runs while posting a team-high .517 OBP. Ryan Behmanesh and Joel Hutter both hit over .300, and even a lower level guy in their lineup such as Duncan McAlpine hit 9 home runs. These look like they came straight out of a video game. Even taking in account the quality of pitching they’ve faced, it’s impressive what they’ve been able to do.
Keys for the Bears:
Keep them off the board early. The Patriots won most of their regional games by taking an early lead and then never letting go of it. If they never get that lead, the game becomes much simpler for their opponent.
Take your hacks. Patience is usually a good idea (and it will be when facing Lane) when hitting, but with the control artists Williamson and Stafford on the hill it’s best to attack early on their average offerings and take advantage.
Keep the scores low. Cal is by no means an offensive juggernaut, even though they know how to score runs. Their pitching has carried them through, while Dallas Baptist has relied often on winning high scoring games to get this far. If the games are played in the range of 2-6 runs then it benefits the Bears. Anything above benefits the other side.
This should be a great series, with hopefully the Bears coming out on top to advance to the College World Series. Dallas Baptist will not be an easy team for the Bears to knock out, but they’re not the best team in the entire country either. Go Bears!