Baseball sweeps opening series

By Greg DeVries
Sports Writer

The Baylor baseball team kicked off its season this past weekend with a three-game sweep of the Oral Roberts Golden Eagles. This marks Baylor’s first three-game sweep in nearly two years. The Bears are now ranked No. 25 by Baseball America.

Junior right-handed pitcher Trent Blank earned the win for the Bears in the first game of the series Friday. He pitched 3.1 innings and allowed one hit and zero runs in a 3-2 win.

“Anytime Coach tells me to get up, I’ll be ready.” Blank said after the game. “And I’ll throw strikes and let the defense work. I just trust everybody on this team.”

In the eighth inning, freshman outfielder Michael Howard came to the plate for his first career at-bat. He drew a walk that forced in the go-ahead run heading into the ninth inning.

“Coming off of the bench, it’s tough, but [the coaches] do have a lot of trust and faith in us. I just did what I had to do,” Howard said. “I think I’ll remember this day for the rest of my life. Just to be able to say, ‘Hey, my first college at bat, I had a game winning RBI for our opening day.’”

Head coach Steve Smith put Howard in a very similar situation in the next game on Sunday. He delivered a second time with another RBI walk. Over the series, he was able to reach base on five of his six at bats.

“[Howard] is a good player. He’s not going to go up there and swing at everything. He’s played a lot of baseball. I felt good about putting him up there [Friday],” Smith said.

Senior right-handed pitcher Joey Hainsfurther was the winning pitcher for the second game. Hainsfurther, who didn’t pitch last season, threw two innings and gave up one hit before closing the game out with two strikeouts to give the Bears another 3-2 win.

Baylor won the final game of the series 8-1. Sophomore left-handed pitcher Brad Kuntz got the start on the mound and threw for five innings. He allowed one run on two hits and recorded six strikeouts.

“I felt I started out well. Throwing strikes, getting ahead of batters. I felt good,” Kuntz said. “It’s definitely a nice start. Can’t ask for anything better.”

First baseman Max Muncy led the way for the Bears’ offense. Muncy had three RBIs on three hits. He also scored a run and walked.

“Our pitchers did an outstanding job all weekend. Five runs through three games. That’s a great job. Only one or two of those were earned, so they did a fantastic job all weekend for us,” catcher Josh Ludy said. “They basically just went out and executed. They were on page with me the whole time and whatever I put down they had faith in.”

Ludy finished with two hits and two RBIs.

The Bears will next take on the TCU Horned Frogs at 4:05 p.m. today at Baylor Ballpark.