By Greg DeVries
No. 25 Baylor baseball will kick off the QTI Baylor Classic at 6:05 p.m. today at Baylor Ballpark against the University of California, Irvine. The Bears are 7-2 on the season and 5-0 at home.
Part of this season’s success has been due to strength on the mound. Fourteen pitchers have stepped on the rubber this season for a combined ERA of 2.96.
“We don’t have a big-time, shutout, dominant arm. We’ve got good arms, and we’ve got a number of them. But it’s early in the year too and even those guys that have a chance to go deep into the game [are] not ready to go deep in the game yet,” head coach Steve Smith said about his pitching staff.
One of the aforementioned arms that has been especially reliable is senior right-handed pitcher Trent Blank. Blank is 4-0 this season with a 0.59 ERA. He has allowed only one earned run in 15.1 innings.
Blank started Tuesday’s game against Sam Houston State on short notice and still delivered five scoreless innings.
“We’ve had some guys go down with injury lately, and hopefully they all get healthy. I’m ready whenever and a lot of our other guys are too,” Blank said. “I’m ready for anything. We’re going to have to have some guys step up this weekend, for sure, and take some of those innings on, but I think everybody is ready.”
The QTI Baylor Classic consists of three teams playing four games in three days. After tonight’s game, the Bears will have a double header against Lamar and U.C. Irvine Saturday followed by another game against Lamar on Sunday. Smith said his players’ stamina will be tested.
“It’ll test every team. Everybody is playing four games and everybody has a double header,” Smith said. “I think with the fact that [senior right-handed pitcher] Tyler [Bremer] is not going to be available through the weekend may test us a little bit more.”
Freshman right fielder Adam Toth broke his hand diving for a ball during the team’s series at UCLA.
Freshman Logan Brown will start in his place.
“Anything to get on the field is a good thing, but I hate it for Adam. It stinks,” Brown said. “I feel like I have a good glove and a good arm out in right field. When I get on the base paths, I feel like I can do some damage running the bases, maybe steal a few bags, and just get on base and help the team.”
Smith said he is confident in Brown’s defensive abilities in right field. According to Smith, Brown and Toth have similar skill sets.
“[He brings] a little bit of the same things that we lost, in terms of Adam [Toth]. Very, very similar runner, a better arm, less pop and a right-handed bat instead of a left-handed bat,” Smith said about Brown. “I’m thinking if you’re in the other dugout and you see [we] don’t have Toth, and they really weren’t aware of Brown, they might look up there and say, ‘I thought he was out.’ They look so similar.”