Know Your Opponent: Baylor Bears

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Freshman Kaelen Culpepper runs to first during the May 8, 2022 game against the University of Kansas at Tointon Family Stadium. (Archive photo by Sophie Osborn | Collegian Media Group)

Kansas State baseball defeated Kansas 2-1 during this past weekend’s Sunflower Showdown. This weekend, the Wildcats have another tough task against a similar opponent, the Baylor Bears.

The Wildcat victories kept KU in last place in the Big 12 standings and helped slingshot K-State’s way to seventh (of nine conference teams). Baylor’s 2-1 series loss against the No. 9 Texas Tech Raiders sunk the Bears below K-State for eighth.

Baylor had high aspirations to make the NCAA tournament this season after being one of the last four out of “The Greatest Show on Dirt,” but has had a disappointing season thus far. It strikes similar to K-State’s “Omahattan” preseason vibes, and now they’re fighting to see who’s the superior between the two.

BATTING:

The Baylor Bears are ranked seventh in conference batting, according to Big 12 Sports. Although K-State’s third-best batting title has slipped in the past week, the Wildcats are two slots ahead of the Bears at fifth in Big 12 hitting.

The Bears are hitting a modest .267 batting average, with the lowest amount of home runs (29), runs batted in (251) and slugging percentage (.391).

Although the Wildcats struggled to stay away from KU’s star shortstop Maui Ahuna, K-State found a way to win Saturday and Sunday’s games. This time the Wildcats will have to control the bats of Kyle Nevin (.306 BA) and Jack Pineda (.300) to increase their possibilities of back-to-back home series wins.

PITCHING:

Both squads relate to each other as far as pitching goes. Baylor has the slight edge with a collective 5.54 era, but K-State’s not far behind them with a 5.77 era.

A couple of reasons for Baylor’s slight edge are the walk and strikeout ratios. K-State arms account for the most walks in the Big 12 at 237, regardless of their 446 strikeouts. K-State hitters have struck out 130 times to opposing pitchers, while Baylor’s ratio is 317 strikeouts to their hitter’s 98 K’s.

K-State’s biggest threat on the mound is Tyler Thomas, toting a 2.45 era with 51 strikeouts and only nine walks allowed. There’s not another regular Baylor starter with an under-five-era.

CONCLUSION:

Both teams are strikingly similar, meaning they’ll be tough outs. Each team will go down fighting tooth-and-nail for a series victory if both squads want to make the conference tournament and possibly the NCAA tournament.

The advantage couldn’t be clearer for K-State with the familiar north-point wind that drives homers over the left-field wall almost every game. While both teams enjoy the advantages of Midwest winds, Wildcat pitchers can strategize where to locate the ball for that not to happen.

It also gives batters the confidence to know they can change the course of a game with one crack of the bat, and outfielders know where to play for each pitch.

K-State faces the Baylor Bears at 6 p.m. on Friday at Tointon Family Stadium. Tickets are available at K-State Sports, while viewing is on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.

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