By Greg DeVries
No. 21 Baylor baseball will take on the Oklahoma State Cowboys in a three-game series this weekend. The Bears have won eight straight and have scored at least eight runs in each game over the course of this streak.
Oklahoma State will pitch their ace on at 6:35 p.m. Friday at Baylor Ballpark. Cowboy left-hander Andrew Heaney will take the mound with a 5-1 record this season. He ranks second in the nation with 65 strikeouts and second in the Big 12 with a 1.12 ERA.
“We saw him last year. I think he came out of the bullpen last year, and he was a good arm,” junior left-handed pitcher Josh Turley said. “We’re going to do our best to get the sticks rolling early and try and put a little pressure on him.”
There are many reasons why the baseball team has won eight straight games. Baseball players are generally superstitious, so some unconventional trends have started in the clubhouse.
“I’m not going to shave [my beard] until we lose, and hopefully that won’t be for awhile,” Turley said.
Junior first baseman Max Muncy has gone a different route with his game-day routine.
“I wear the same thing on game day. I wear some slacks and a Polo shirt,” Muncy said.
The team has devised a theory that starts off of the field. In fact, it starts in the parking lot. Around the day that the winning streak started, a beaver made its way from the Brazos River into the parking lot of Baylor Ballpark to eat acorns. The Beaver usually makes a daily appearance, and the players have started using the phrase, “Feed the Beaver.”
“I’ve heard about the beaver. I have not personally seen the beaver. I’ve heard numerous stories about the beaver, though. And I would like to see that beaver,” head coach Steve Smith said.
He also admitted he is not a particularly superstitious individual.
“I think Cal [Towey] gets more credit than the beaver,” Smith added.
In the series against Kansas amid the winning streak, junior third baseman Towey went 4 for 9 with five RBIs. He is third on the team in RBIs with 18 and is slugging .430. He has also reached base in 14 straight games.
Superstitions aside, the Bears have been swinging the bat well as a team. Their streak of scoring at least eight runs per game in something that Baylor has not done since 1998.
“Everyone is relaxed in there. We’re not stressing about any games that are coming up. We’re just going out and having fun,” Muncy said. “When you’re relaxed, everyone is joking about it. It helps you relieve it and just play better with it.”
Muncy is batting .337 on the season. During the win streak, the National Baseball Writers Association named him the National Hitter of the Week. Muncy scored seven runs and batted in nine more during the week. He also hit two home runs and hit .500 during this span.
Oklahoma State is only 14-11 on the year, and is 1-2 in conference play. In away games, they are just 2-8. This plays into Baylor’s hands because the Bears are 15-3 at home.
“It’s big for us because after this weekend, we don’t have another actual home series because we have the split with [Texas] A&M and Texas,” Turley said. “The road is going to be tough, but anywhere you go, it’s going to be difficult. People coming in here … it’s going to be difficult for them.”
Baylor is sitting atop the Big 12 with a perfect conference record at 6-0. All of these wins have been at Baylor Ballpark. All of Oklahoma State’s conference games have come on the road. The Cowboys are currently seventh in conference standings.
This series will mark Baylor’s annual Military Appreciation weekend. The Bears will incorporate camouflage into their uniforms to honor those who have served.