By Matt Larsen
Baylor pitching and hitting alike appeared bogged down as the Bears dropped the muggy Tuesday night matchup to the University of Nevada Las Vegas, 7-4, at Baylor Ballpark.
Three UNLV pitchers held Baylor’s (20-18) lineup to seven hits while the Rebels (25-14) posted 15 hits against the six Bears’ pitchers they faced.
“We hit some balls good, but timing is everything when it comes to hitting,” head coach Steve Smith said. “I don’t like taking anything away from the way they pitched, particularly the left-hander, because he did a good job himself of changing speeds. They played a good ballgame.”
The first few innings largely belonged to UNLV.
After loading the bases with the help of a wild pitch, Casey Sato notched an RBI single to give the Rebels a 1-0 lead in the first.
Junior Brooks Pinckard took over for senior starter Jon Ringenberg in the second, and in three innings of relief work allowed one run off two hits.
Ringenberg picked up his first career loss after giving up one earned run on three hits while walking one.
Pinckard got Danny Higa to ground into double plays in both the second and fourth.
Pinckard’s replacement, junior Tyler Bremer, did not fare as well in the fifth. The Yavapai Junior College transfer faced four batters, and those four UNLV hitters managed three singles and a double to take a 5-0 lead.
After senior Landis Ware flied out for the first out of the bottom of the fifth, eight of the Bears’ 13 outs had come on flyouts or line drives. In the fourth, all three Baylor hitters sent UNLV outfielders back to the warning track.
Sophomore Max Muncy would liked to have seen a couple of those shots go over, but can’t complain about the solid contact.
“The middle of the order for us, the big thing is to put good swings on the ball,” he said.
That trend changed in the fifth as Muncy sent a liner two feet over the extended glove of UNLV second baseman Scott Dysinger to bring home two of the three base runners. Smith said Muncy was the only Baylor batter who delivered a timely hit with two strikes, noting the left-handed Muncy got it against a left-handed hurler.
Junior Josh Ludy thought for a second he had added a homerun to the Bears’ most active inning, but the line drive shot sailed just foul over the left field fence. The threat came quickly to a close after that as Muncy was thrown out attempting to advance to second on a wild pitch and Ludy struck out, stranding sophomore Logan Vick at third.
Freshman Trae Davis came in to relieve Bremer in the fifth, but gave up a run of his own in the sixth as the Rebels stretched their lead to 6-2 with a double and single.
Smith opted to bring in freshman lefty Brad Kuntz to secure the last out of the inning.
UNLV added one more against Kuntz in the eighth to make it 7-2 before Kuntz took a seat. He gave up three hits off 53 pitches in his two innings of work.
The Bears went quietly until the ninth when junior Dan Evatt battled Garcia to a full count before sending one over the left-center field fence for his team-leading sixth homer of the season.
“Last year was a mess. He couldn’t time up a ball in [batting practice],” Smith said of Evatt. “He has worked really hard at it, both the physical side and the mental side. Him and Muncy are the guys right now that give us the best quality at-bats.”
The left-fielder seemed to agree.
“I feel like I have a pretty good feel for the strike zone right now, pretty good feel for my mechanics and my swing,” Evatt said.
Baylor tacked on one more in the ninth as Ware reached and advanced to second thanks to an error and then scored when sophomore Jake Miller singled to center.
Any thoughts of a rally ended shortly after as Rebel righty Zach Hartman came in and got Vick to fly out for the final out of the game.