By Nathan Keil | Sports Writer
Baylor baseball won its first Big 12 series over the weekend, taking two out of three from the visiting Texas Longhorns at Baylor Ballpark.
The Bears took the first two games of the series, 6-2 on Thursday and 4-3 on Friday before falling 5-3 in 10 innings in Saturday’s finale.
On Thursday, Baylor used a four run second inning and rode a strong performance from senior pitcher Nick Lewis on the mount to earn the win.
Baylor head coach Steve Rodriguez said that getting a big hit early in the game was a huge confidence boost as the game went on.
“In the past couple of weeks we’ve actually been hitting the ball pretty hard off of some really good pitchers,” Rodriguez said. “The key for me was being able to get the two-out RBI. When you’re able to do that, it’s such a momentum shifting action.”
Lewis picked up his fourth win, going six innings, allowing one unearned run and three walks while limiting the Longhorns to just four hits.
In the second inning, the Bears got the scoring going with two outs. Following two walks and a single, junior shortstop Tucker Cascadden drove in two with a double, another run scored on a passed ball and sophomore outfielder T.J. Raguse singled in a run.
Freshman catcher Shea Langeliers added some insurance in the sixth inning when he launched his 0 home run of the season.
On Friday night, the Bears won in dramatic fashion, scoring three runs in the eighth and winning 4-3 on a single by junior outfielder Kameron Esthay.
Rodriguez noted how rewarding it was to see the leadership of the upperclassmen as they stepped up and delivered in the clutch moments of the game.
“I was really happy for our upperclassmen to be able to come into a big situation like that in the eighth and ninth,” Rodriguez said. “[Junior firstbaseman] Cameron Miller and [Kameron] Esthay stepped up and put us in a situation where we had a chance to win it.”
In the eighth, senior designated hitter Matt Menard drove in the first Baylor run, Esthay plated a second one on a groundout and Miller hit a pinch-hit infield single to tie the game.
Junior reliever Troy Montemayor earned his second win of the season. Junior pitcher Montana Parsons started on the mound and went five innings while allowing all three runs on five hits with six strikeouts.
In Saturday’s finale, Baylor once again started slow, falling behind 3-0 after two innings before slowly chipping away at the Texas lead.
Sophomore shortstop Josh Bissonnette brought a run home on a groundout in the fifth. Junior infielder Steven McLean did the same in the seventh and Cascadden brought in the tying run with two outs in the ninth to force extra innings.
Cascadden said that he was just trying to fight at the plate and put the pressure on the Longhorns’ defense by putting the ball in play.
“I just needed to put it in play. I knew there were two outs,” Cascadden said. “I wasn’t trying to do too much, especially with two strikes. I really pushed staying through it, and I got to pull one over [Longhorns
senior infielder Kacy] Clemens’ head at first.”
In the tenth, Clemens hit the go ahead two run home run and the Bears were unable to score in the bottom half of the inning.
Rodriguez said that despite not being able to complete the sweep, the kind of effort put forth against Texas shows the improvement the team has made over the last few weeks.
“When you’re able to get as close to a sweep as we were today without getting it, it is helpful to understand where we are compared to where we were a few weeks ago,” Rodriguez said.
Baylor (22-14, 5-7) will host Stephen F. Austin in a midweek showdown beginning at 6:35 p.m. Tuesday at Baylor Ballpark. The Bears will then travel for a weekend showdown in Fort Worth against No. 6 TCU.