By Ben Everett | Sports Writer
Baylor baseball won their weekend series matchup against South Alabama, sweeping all three games to remain undefeated on the season.
The Bears are 8-0 for the first time since 1984 — In the 84′ season, Baylor started 13-0, which is the all-time record for best start to a season in program history.
The Bears won the first game friday night by a score of 3-2, powered by a strong performance from senior starting pitcher Nick Lewis. Lewis made it through seven innings, giving up just six hits and two runs while striking out seven.
Baylor head coach Steve Rodriguez said Lewis’ performance was impressive considering the offensive firepower of South Alabama.
“Nick Lewis just did an amazing job with a very offensive team,” Rodriguez said. “They really took some big swings and luckily he was able to execute a lot of his pitches.”
South Alabama starting pitcher Randy Bell was solid as well, holding the Bears to their season low in runs.
Junior shortstop Tucker Cascadden and sophomore outfielder Richard Cunningham knocked in two RBI’s in the fifth inning and junior third basemen Steven McLean drove in Cascadden to cap off Baylor’s only successful scoring inning.
To seal the game for the Bears, junior closer Troy Montemayor threw out a runner at second on a sac-bunt attempt and then struck out the next two batters to claim his second save of the season.
Montemayor says his throw to second after the sac-bunt is something that comes naturally due to practice.
“That’s just instinct,” Montemayor said. “We work on that every day in practice. So, when I saw the ball right at me, I didn’t even think about first base.”
In the second game of the series, the Bears overcame a 9-5 deficit in the seventh inning to win the game 10-9 and clinch the series win.
Baylor opened a 3-1 lead in the third inning set up by a walk of Cascadden and a sac-fly from McLean, but the Jaguars scored five straight runs to take a 6-3 lead in the sixth inning.
McLean drove in two runs in the bottom of the sixth, but South Alabama scored three more runs in the top of the seventh to take a decisive 9-5 lead.
Senior designated hitter Matt Menard scored in the bottom of the seventh and Cunningham launched a two-run double to make it 9-8 and get the tying run on base. Cunningham was able to score the tying run on an infield single by Cascadden.
In the eighth, senior catcher Aaron Dodson flew a triple to right field and scored the next play to give the Bears the lead.
Montemayor struggled in the ninth, putting two on base with just one out, but finished strong to give Baylor the win and earn his third save of the year.
Following the game, Rodriguez said there is a difference between talent and finding a way to win and that this team has both.
“There’s something to be said about the kids that just find a way to help your team win,” Rodriguez said. “This group is talented in their own right, but also has a lot of qualities that help teams win. Right now both are showing and getting us off to this good start, but we still have a long season ahead.”
In the series finale played on Sunday afternoon, Baylor won 9-7 behind a strong six innings from freshman starting pitcher Cody Bradford.
In the second inning, Cascadden had a two-RBI (runs batter in) double and McLean plated a run as well to put the Bears in front 3-0 early.
South Alabama outfielder Adam Wolfe launched a solo homer to respond, but the Bears offense continued to pile on in the fourth. McLean scored on an outfield error, and freshman first baseman Davis Wendzel and sophomore second baseman Josh Bissonette each recorded RBIs to put the bears up 9-1.
In the eighth inning, Wolfe sent another ball over the fence, this time scoring three runs as the Jaguars rallied back to make it a 9-7 game.
However, sophomore pitcher Kyle Hill came in to close the game out and record the save.
Freshman catcher Shea Langeliers says the series sweep gives the team confidence moving forward.
“I think its a real big confidence builder,” Langeliers said. “We knew we were a good team but we hadn’t really been tested yet.”
The Bears look to remain undefeated as they take on Arkansas Pine-Bluff at 4 p.m. on Tuesday at Baylor Ballpark.