By Greg DeVries
No. 3 Baylor baseball will take on the No. 25 New Mexico State Aggies tonight and Saturday. Both games of the two-game series will be at Baylor Ballpark, and the top 25 showdown should test both teams.
Offensively, New Mexico State makes their living by drawing walks. In their 41 games this season, the Aggies have drawn 271 walks, leading the nation by over 50. They also rank No. 36 in the country in getting hit by pitches. They manage to take many free bases however they can get them.
“[They] are very good, and [they] do what they do extremely well,” head coach Steve Smith said. “When you look at their stat sheet … it will not look like anybody’s stat sheet that you’ve seen all year … they lead the world in walks and getting hit by pitches.”
New Mexico State seizes the opportunities that they are given with free base runners. The Aggies are capable of piling on runs in innings.
“They’re doing a good job of hitting with runners in scoring position and [getting] guys on base. They’re averaging about eight runs per game,” Smith said.
With this in mind, Smith stressed the importance of Baylor’s pitching staff getting ahead of batters in the count.
“Throw strike one. Throw strike one. Throw strike one,” Smith said, emphasizing the importance of first-pitch strikes. “[It] is as big a pitch in the game as there is. It won’t necessarily mean we have to change anything, and I don’t expect them to change anything. We just need to continue to be who we are and do what we’ve been doing.”
Junior left-handed pitcher Josh Turley will get the call tonight. Turley is 6-0 in his 10 starts. He leads the team in strikeouts with 51, and his ERA is 1.94.
“It’s always important to win games, especially when you have a tough schedule like we do,” Turley said.
The Bears recently bounced back from a loss that ended their 24-game winning streak. The loss came to the University of Texas at San Antonio 4-1 on Tuesday.
“Coming off of the series [with] Texas A&M … everybody was pumped up about that. [Then we played] a team like UTSA who doesn’t take anybody for granted [and is] trying to beat big teams like us. It was a good win for them. It’s a bad loss for us,” Turley said.
Baylor responded with a strong outing against the University of Texas at Arlington 6-4 Wednesday.
“To come back from [the loss] the next day and beat a quality team like UTA is a good thing for us. I think we played well, for the most part, until late. I’m just glad we got the W,” Turley said.
Baylor is 36-8 overall, 18-0 in conference and 25-3 at home. While this is a nonconference game, it will help prepare the team for their final two conference series against Oklahoma and Texas.
Despite a perfect conference record late in the season, the Bears have not locked up the conference title. Texas is currently 11-4 in conference play and 24-14 overall.
First pitch will be at 6:35 p.m. for tonight’s game.