Baylor comes into the Big 12 Baseball Championship, which begins Wednesday, as the No. 1 seed and the favorite, but the Bears are only 2-4 in their last six games after beginning the conference season on a record-setting 18-game winning streak.
With the Championship being held Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City, it was an interesting scheduling draw that the tournament would start off with Bedlam, pitting the two Oklahoma schools against one another. The Sooners, the No. 4 seed, prevailed in the curtain-opener over Oklahoma State, winning 1-0 in a game that was scoreless entering the ninth inning.
OU third-baseman Garrett Carey's walk-off homerun in the bottom of the ninth off Cowboys' ace starter Andrew Heaney, was the difference. Carey's home run was only the Sooners' third hit of the game. The win was the Sooners' eighth consecutive tournament win over its Bedlam Series rival. The Cowboys won three of four over Sonny Golloway's Sooners during the regular season this year.
Kansas (22-23, 7-16 in the conference), which qualified for the eight-team postseason tournament field by taking two out of three games from longtime neighboring-state rival Missouri in what may have been the final meeting between the two schools, will play No. 2-seed and two-time defending conference-tournament champion Texas A&M in one of the evening games on Wednesday. A&M won two of three on the road against the Jayhawks during the regular season.
Missouri (28-26, 10-14), the No. 6 seed in the tournament, is slotted in Division Two in the Championship along with the Jayhawks, which means that the Border Showdown may get one more go depending on how the two teams fare in their opening-round games. The Tigers, like Kansas, have a difficult draw in game one against Texas, the No. 3 seed, but Mizzou won two of three against the Longhorns during the regular season. Tiger coach Tim Jamieson is one win shy of 600 wins for his coaching careet.
Kansas State (26-29, 7-17) avoided being left at home for the Big 12 Tourney by winning two of three from Texas Tech last weekend and edging out the Red Raiders as the eighth and final seed. That is the good news. The bad news is that the Wildcats first-round opponent on Wednesday afternoon is Baylor. Surprisingly, the Wildcats played the conference champions extremely tough in their regular-season series. The Bears swept the series, but only by a margin of six runs combined, including back-to-back high-scoring games of 14-12 and 12-11.
Oklahoma and Baylor have qualified for every Big 12 Championship since the league was formed, beginning with the 1996-97 season. Baylor has appeared in the championship game six times, more than any other team in the conference, but has yet to win a postseason conference championship.
The Big 12 Baseball Championship is played under a two-division, double-elimination format. The eight teams with the best conference records qualify for the postseason tournament. Seeds one, four five and six are slotted in Division One, and the remaining seeds (two, three, seven and eight) form Division Two. There is no crossover play until the winners of each division meet in the championship game, which will be played on Sunday.
In the history of the Big 12 Championship, seven different teams have won the title. Texas has won the most championships with four; Texas A&M has three crowns, including the past two). Kansas State, Missouri and Baylor are the only schools that have not won a postseason conference championship in Big 12 history.
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