By Daniel Hill
The Baylor baseball team opens up Big 12 Conference play on the road in a three-game weekend series against the No. 20 Oklahoma State Cowboys. The Bears will take on the Cowboys on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium in Stillwater.
The Bears come into the series with a 10-12 overall record, including going 1-4 on the road this season. Baylor will look to gain some experience and winning habits on the road this weekend when facing the 17-3 Cowboys.
“[Oklahoma State] played three games on the road and won two out of three in New Mexico,” head coach Steve Smith said. “They’ve taken last year’s offense and it looks like they’ve reinvigorated it. They’ve got some good offense and they’ve put up some numbers, and the Friday night guy is very capable. I don’t know about the other guys right now but [sophomore right-handed pitcher Jason] Hursh is a Dallas kid. What I know is this, I know that [Oklahoma State head coach] Josh [Holiday] is a very competitive guy.”
Junior right-handed pitcher Dillon Newman is slated to take the mound Friday for the Bears. He has a 1.42 ERA and is 3-0 on the year. In over 31 innings of work, Newman has only allowed 18 hits and five runs. Opponents only hit .167 when facing Newman.
“He’s not overpowering,” assistant coach Trevor Mote said. “But as far as being able to attack you with five pitches, I think if you’d ask any good hitter whether they’d like to face a guy with two power pitches or a guy that’s got five pitches, I think we’d all know the answer. He brings a bunch of good things to the table and he’s a guy that gets better every time out.”
Newman worked over the summer with Mote to adjust his mechanics and to add more pitches to his repertoire.
“I think the big thing for him was… going out this summer and getting some innings,” Mote said. “I think there he really learned to pitch off of his fastball. When he came back in the fall, we decided to change his delivery to try to get a little more deception in his delivery. He’s always had a plus change up and a good fastball to go with it. Now he’s a guy that throws five pitches. He throws a cutter, curve ball, two-seam fastball, fastball and change. More than anything, he’s just a plus competitor, and he’s a year older and he’s really anchored down the staff.”
Newman has been associated with Baylor for as long as he can remember. His mother worked at Baylor, and he always wanted to play baseball at Baylor.
“It’s rewarding to see him,” head coach Steve Smith said. “I’m not surprised. I have known him for a long time and I’ve known his mother for a long time… I remember one day her over in the payroll office telling me about her little star in little league and to think that he’s here today. I’m happy for him, his parents and his whole family.”
Senior right-handed pitcher Max Garner is scheduled to go on Saturday.
“Our goal is to win Friday’s game and if we need Garner to win Friday’s game, then that’s what we’ll do. Then we’ll deal with Saturday when we get there and Sunday when we get there. You can try to announce two [starters] but you never know until you get into the games what you’re going to end up doing.”
In the clubhouse, the Bears are led by a trio of seniors in right fielder Nathan Orf, third basemen Cal Towey and shortstop Jake Miller.
“It’s still the beginning of conference,” Miller said, “and we’ve got quite a lot of baseball left so it hasn’t hit too deep but it’s the last one you know so us seniors, we haven’t really talked about it or mentioned it but we all know. We want to win and we’re going to do whatever it takes.”