By Chris Derrett
Fresh off a Big 12 series win at Oklahoma State last weekend, Baylor returned home Tuesday night and blasted past Dallas Baptist, 7-1.
Sophomore Max Muncy continued his powerful hitting streak with his fourth home run in six games, and junior Trent Blank improved to 4-2 after throwing three scoreless innings.
“We weren’t as good tonight as we were over the weekend, but we stranded a lot of runners, and that’s good to see,” coach Steve Smith said.
Despite walking a combined six batters, the Bears (27-23, 11-13) left 11 Patriot runners on base.
Baylor senior Jon Ringenberg got the start for his team and threw four innings of one-run ball before handing the ball to Blank. But unfortunately for Ringenberg, the Bears’ offense did not figure out Dallas Baptist (37-16) starter Brandon Williamson and take the lead until the bottom of the fourth.
Williamson appeared to escape the fourth-inning jam with runners on the corners and one-out, but Patriots second baseman Tyler Robbins could not handle junior Joey Hainsfurther’s potential double play grounder.
Robbins bobbled the ball and settled for throwing out Hainsfurther at first, and Muncy scored on the play, tying the game at one apiece.
Senior Landis Ware then singled to score junior Dan Evatt, who would have been thrown out at second had Robbins cleanly fielded Hainsfurther’s grounder, and sophomore Jake Miller doubled down the right field line to score Ware.
Muncy pushed the lead to 5-1 the next inning with a towering home run over the right-center wall.
“The big thing is that I’m just getting my foot down, which is allowing me to see the ball better, see the pitches coming and allowing me to put everything into the swing,” Muncy said.
The Bears added another two runs in the sixth. Ware, who started the inning with a double that landed just beyond the infield dirt between three converging fielders, scored on sophomore Steve DalPorto’s squeeze bunt. DalPorto later crossed the plate thanks to Dallas Baptist’s first baseman Ryan Behmanesh’s two-out fielding error.
As the Bears added insurance, Blank cruised through the fifth, sixth and seventh innings. Blank credits his recent success, including a 3.1 inning, scoreless outing last Tuesday at TCU, to a noticeable change in arm angle.
“We were throwing a bullpen one day, and last pitch of the bullpen one of the coaches said drop down a little bit [because he] saw something. I threw 50 more pitches from that arm slot and that’s where I’m at now,” Blank said.
Since changing his angle, now just below the 3/4 arm slot, Blank has thrown 6.2 innings and allowed five hits and zero runs.
Baylor now turns its attention to its regular season finale, a three-game series against Oklahoma starting Thursday at Baylor Ballpark. The Bears, at 27-23, sit four games above the required .500 mark for an NCAA tournament bid.
Still, Smith says notching a series win would be huge for his team’s postseason hopes.
“Our RPI is going to be alright, and we’ve got a chance to finish good in the league, or good enough if we can find a way to win this series this weekend,” Smith said.