OKLAHOMA CITY (May 23, 2013) -- Baylor ran into one of the nation’s top pitchers on the top of his game in a 2-0 loss to Oklahoma to open up pool play at the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship on Thursday afternoon at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark.
After both teams endured a near 2.5-hour rain delay, a pitcher’s duel unfolded between Oklahoma’s (37-19) Jonathan Gray and Baylor’s (27-26) Dillon Newman that was very reminiscent of the game the two teams played in Waco on April 12. Unfortunately, the end result was the opposite for the Bears.
“[Gray] got in a good flow and just pitched,” said BU Head Coach Steve Smith. “He can just pitch. He reminds me of (Roger) Clemens because of his three-pitch command and his command of the game. He is really good. It’ll be interesting to see which one of those two guys goes first between him or the guy from Stanford (Mark Appel).”
The first inning proved to be the determining factor as both pitchers got off to slow starts. Gray threw four straight balls to leadoff batter Lawton Langford and made a bad throw on a pickoff attempt to move Langford into second base with one out. But the Bears didn’t take advantage as Cal Towey grounded out and Jake Miller went down swinging.
Newman was greeted with two straight hits to start the game – a single by Craig Aikin and an RBI double from Jack Mayfield. The 1-0 lead was all the Sooners needed, and they added to it with three straight singles in the third for an insurance run.
After that, though, Newman dialed in and gave Baylor a chance by retiring the last 14 batters he faced in a complete-game performance. Taking a tough loss (3-4), he threw eight innings while allowing the two runs on six hits and one walk with three strikeouts.
“[Newman] is the same guy I saw coming out of high school,” Smith said. “He threw pitches for strikes, he doesn’t throw his curve ball anymore, and his strength is through the ball game. He’s an 88 to 90 guy, and he was that today through the whole ballgame. He’s a pitcher.”
Baylor’s only other legitimate scoring threat against Gray came in the sixth after Nathan Orf was hit by a pitch and moved to third on a Miller two-out single. But Adam Toth flew out to shallow center field to end the threat.
Earning the win, Gray (9-3) struck out a career-high-tying 12 batters in nine innings as he gave up just three hits and a walk.
As Pool One play continues, Baylor faces No. 1 Kansas State tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. CT and No. 8 Texas Tech at 9 a.m. on Saturday. If Baylor wins Pool One, it will play Pool Two winner in the championship on Sunday at 1 p.m. The probable pitchers for tomorrow are BU RHP Max Garner (3-6, 4.19 ERA) and KSU RHP Levi MaVorhis (5-0, 3.33 ERA).