By Chris Derrett
No. 16 ranked baseball dropped its season opener, 7-3, Friday as Oral Roberts pounced on Baylor’s pitching and the Bears offense sputtered.
Junior Logan Verrett had a forgettable night on the mound, surrendering four runs and six hits in 3.0 innings. Offensively Baylor managed six hits, four through the first seven innings.
“When a team puts seven runs on the board, gets 11 hits, does what [Oral Roberts] did tonight, you’ve got to give them credit, but you pitched poorly,” coach Steve Smith said.
The NCAA’s new mandated bats, designed to make college baseball’s metal bats behave more like wooden bats, did not seem to affect Oral Roberts.
The Golden Eagles blasted Verrett in the top of the third for four doubles. The second, a Brandon King shot down the right field line, drove in the game’s first two runs.
Nick Baligod’s double to right center brought home another run, and Baligod scored himself on junior Joey Hainsfurther’s passed ball.
“You feel like you’ve got to have a great outing, set the bar high for everybody else. I didn’t do that.” Verrett said.
Verrett said he tossed a bullpen session Tuesday where nearly every pitch hit the desired location. Friday he struggled to locate his fastball, and he was unhappy with his decisions on the mound.
“I should have shaken off a few more pitches than I did. I don’t know if I shook off any tonight,” Verrett said.
There were no pitches called from the dugout. That left Hainsfurther, catching full-time for the first time in his life, to call pitch types and locations.
Prior to the season, many coaches and players thought small ball would play a big part in the offensive game. Oral Roberts had that down pat as well.
In the sixth inning with Baylor sophomore Josh Turley on the mound, two singles set the table for Joey Winiecki, who singled to right and notched an RBI. Another run scored on the play off sophomore Cal Towey’s fielding error.
Three of the Golden Eagle’s runs were scored by runners who reached on walks, something else Smith said decided the game.
Baylor’s first run came in the home half of the third, when sophomore Max Muncy reached on a fielding error and junior Brooks Pinckard scored.
Junior Dan Evatt’s eighth-inning double down the left field line knocked in another two runs, but reliever Sean Johnson later struck out three straight Baylor batters to end the threat.
“That would have been a huge momentum switch,” Evatt said about potentially cutting the deficit further. “It was unfortunate, but we’ll shake it off.”
All things considered, Smith felt the new bats have pushed college baseball closer to its big league counterpart.
“Whatever you have seen happen in Major League Baseball with a wood bat, you can expect to see here, just at a lesser level. The game, I think, will look a lot the same, and this game tonight looked almost identical,” Smith said. “
Baylor and Oral Roberts meet again at 2 p.m. Saturday for the second time in a three-game series.