Baseball’s offense stagnant in loss to TCU

Matt Hellman | Lariat Photographer
Sophomore No. 16 Brooks Pinckard connects with a pitch in the Bears’ 2-0 loss to TCU Tuesday in Waco.

By Matt Larsen
Sports Writer

No. 16 Baylor dropped its first midweek game of 2011 to No. 4 TCU Tuesday, picking up just two hits in the 2-0 loss where the newly enforced bats made an impact on hitters from both squads.

“I thought the arms for both sides threw well today,” head coach Steve Smith said. “This was a prime example I think of the effect the bat has on the game this year. The hitters hit the ball well, but the fly balls are not going to go like they used to.”

In his first two at bats, sophomore first baseman Max Muncy sent deep fly balls back to the warning track that likely would have sailed out for homeruns with the old bats. Though still metal, the new bats feature a smaller sweet spot that results in contact more typical of wooden bats.

“If you want to hit fly balls out of the park now, you’re going to have to be a man. You’re going to have to be a big man,” Smith said. “They [TCU] hit several the same way.”

TCU took advantage of a single and a walk by Baylor sophomore starter Josh Turley in the fourth inning. Joe Weik bunted over the baserunners and both scored on a single to right-center field by shortstop Taylor Featherston.

“The first three innings I was cruising along pretty well,” Turley said. “As far as the fourth inning, there were a few instances where I stayed on the outside corner and I just didn’t get the balls where I wanted to go. That one mistake ended up costing us.”

Turley finished out the fourth without any further runs scored, but gave way to three fellow youngsters.

Freshman Brad Kuntz tossed two scoreless innings to close the night in his first taste of collegiate baseball.

Kuntz tallied four strikeouts in the seven batters he faced.

“Kuntz struck out two guys an inning his senior year in high school,” Smith said. “Maybe he just strikes out two guys an inning. Maybe if that’s what you do, it’s just what you do. It was good to get those young guys out there and it still be a game.”

Baylor finally managed its first hit off of TCU freshman starter Andrew Mitchell in the sixth inning when sophomore Jake Miller knocked a bouncer up the middle for a single.

The Bears got no further that inning as the next batter, sophomore Steve DalPorto, sent a line drive straight to TCU shortstop Taylor Featherston, who then doubled up Miller with a throw to first.

The Bears would again see a base runner doubled up on a line drive in the seventh. Junior Brooks Pinckard earned his first double of the year with a hit that bent down the first base line.

Pinckard’s attempt to steal third cost him, though, as sophomore Logan Vick hit a line drive to first, allowing for an easy throw to second for the double play.

As a pitcher, Kuntz believes there was nothing complicated about Mitchell’s effectiveness.

“He keeps the ball down, throwing 91, 94 [mph],” Kuntz said. “He’s going to be hard to hit.”

Smith said the pitching was solid but that baseball’s fickleness made the biggest difference.

“We were a little bit snakebit,” he said. “The best balls hit today were all outs.”