By Daniel Hill
The Baylor Bears baseball team experienced unprecedented success last season by posting a 49-17 record. Even though it is still early in the season, this year’s Baylor team has a 17-16 record on the diamond and is already one loss away from equaling last season’s total.
This year’s Baylor team prefers to play a style of small ball. When a runner gets on first, the offense will do whatever it takes to get one run across home plate. This means a healthy number of sacrifice bunts in an effort to advance runners to score.
“I feel like as a team we are always one big hit away,” senior shortstop Jake Miller said. “I feel like last year, the baseball gods were on our side and things went our way. This year, it’s not exactly like we’re doing bad, but at times we’re not doing great. We need to get timely hits. That’s baseball. Runners in scoring position with two outs, you’ve got to scratch them across. We’re not always going to get a sacrifice fly and they’re not just going to give it to you. We’ve got to just keep pulling away and the hits will fall.”
With a 5-3 conference record, the Bears are third in the Big 12 and are hoping to jump into more success this season when the Bears host No. 9 Oklahoma this weekend for a three-game series.
After scoring 11 and 14 runs in their last two games respectively, the Bears’ bats are starting to come alive at just the right time of the season now that the Big 12 schedule is full speed ahead.
“Getting hits, scoring a lot more runs, and pitching have been doing the job too,” senior right fielder Nathan Orf said. “These have been better team wins.”
After losing major contributors from last year’s squad, it’s understandable that the Bears got off to a slow start and struggled to find their identity as a team. Catcher Josh Ludy, pitcher Josh Turley, first baseman Max Muncy, and center fielder Logan Vick were all big contributors to last year’s team that have moved on.
The Bears have played three Big 12 series so far this season and they have won every single series except the 1-1 split on the road against Oklahoma State.
“We all know clearly what we face and we all know the last 20 games or so are going to predominantly be played on the road,” head coach Steve Smith said. “We’ve got OU here and we’ve got five series left and three or four midweek games left so it’s that time of the year where you ought to know where you are and you ought to know what type of team you are.”
With 19 regular season contests remaining before the end of the season, there’s still time for the Bears to get on a hot streak and enter the Big 12 Conference Baseball Championship on a positive note.
Senior leadership from Orf, third baseman Cal Towey and shortstop Jake Miller has led the team in the clubhouse and on the field. With Tuesday night’s 14-4 route of UT Arlington, the Bears overall record officially moves to 17-16. Even though the Bears have a winning record, Orf expects more.
“I guess it’s good [to be above .500], we wish our record was way better than that but we don’t really pay much attention to it you know,” Orf said. “We’re just kind of taking it day by day and looking forward to the weekend and hopefully we stay on this side of the winning column for the rest of the season.”