It was not a joyous day for Big 12 regular-season champion Baylor or Missouri, winner of the conference tournament and the Big 12 automatic bid to the NCAA Championship. Both the Bears and Tigers stumbled in their opening-day regional games in the 2012 NCAA Tournament. Texas A&M, on the other hand, took care of business on its home field on Friday and advanced to the winners' bracket and a step closer to college baseball's version of the Sweet 16, otherwise known as the super regionals.
The fourth Big 12 qualifier for the NCAA Tournament, Oklahoma (38-22), was rained out on day one, and will play a makeup game late Saturday against Appalachian State, the fourth seed in the Charlottesville, Va. Regional.
Missouri jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in the opening inning against top-seed Arizona in the Tucson Regional on Friday and led 3-2 in the third, but that was all the Tigers would score, as the Wildcats broke open the contest with a seven-run explosion in the fourth to blow the game wide open and then added three-spots in both the seventh and eighth innings to finish out a 15-3 rout.
Missouri centerfielder Blake Brown led the Tigers offensively, going two-for-two at the plate and drawing two walks. Brown also had one of the Tigers 3 RBI on the evening.
Arizona pounded out 20 hits in the contest, while the Big 12 Tournament champions could muster just four hits against Arizona starter Kurt Heyer, who tossed a complete game. Mizzou starter Blake Holovach lasted just 3 1/3 innings and allowed 10 hits and six earned runs.
The Tigers (32-27) will play an elimination game on Saturday against New Mexico State, a 3-2 loser to Louisville.
Baylor is hosting one of the 16 regional sites and had a 22-game home winning streak before Friday night. The Bears, 44-15 and ranked fourth nationally, were unable to get by Oral Robers, the Waco Regional's fourth seed, however, dropping a 4-2 decision. Baylor's Josh Lundy, the Big 12 Player of the Year, pushed his team out to an early 2-0 lead with a solo home run in the third, his conference-best 14th round-tripper of the year.
The Bears held on to a 2-0 lead until the sixth, when Oral Roberts broke through with three of its own to take the Golden Eagles wouldn't relinquish. "The game went pretty much as I would have anticipated it to go," said Baylor's Steve Smith, the Big 12 Coach of the Year, after the game. "We pitched it well enough to win, and they obviously pitched it well enough. It came down to a few timely hits, or a lack there of, and maybe a couple of errors" that led to longer innings and more pitches and things like that, he said.
Josh Turley suffered his first loss of the season for Baylor after posting nine victories. The Bears are paired against third-seed University of Texas-Arlington Saturday.
Big 12 regular-season runner up Texas A&M jumped out to the early lead on its home field on Friday and never trailed in putting away pesky Dayton 4-1. The Flyers are playing in their first NCAA Baseball Championship. A&M starter Michael Wacha went 7 1/3 innings and gave up just five hits in recording his ninth win of the year with only one loss. The Aggies (43-16) will now face Mississippi in the winner's bracket in College Station. The winner of that game will then await the winner Sunday of another elimination game between the Texas A&M loser and the winner of the TCU-Dayton game.
Texas A&M is in the best position at this time of making it to the next round in the NCAA Tournament, but the Aggies still need to win two more games to do so. Because the regional format is a double elimination, all four Big 12 teams are still alive, but Baylor and Missouri must win on Saturday to remain in the tournament.
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