By Jeffrey Swindoll
Baylor baseball’s offense came to life against the Houston Baptist Huskies in a 9-3 blowout Tuesday at Baylor Ballpark. The Bears (12-9, 2-1) start a weekend series with conference rival Oklahoma State (15-6, 0-0) on Friday at home.
“Clearly Houston Baptists’ pitching was up against it,” head coach Steve Smith said. “They had a 15-inning game on Sunday, and that’s more than just a starter. That’s a couple of arms. So, we caught them at the right time.”
The Bears opened the floodgates already in the first two innings with nine hits and eight runs. HBU had to play catch-up as its pitchers were put under high pressure from the Bears’ hitting. HBU’s pitching posed no outstanding threat to the Bears who seemed to get on with base hits or walks, regardless of who was on the mound. Baylor’s hitting was on point Tuesday, but HBU gave the Bears plenty of freebies.
Smith said HBU’s pitching was not necessarily as poor as the score indicated, but it was simply a matter of finishing two-strike counts and turning them into strikeouts that bit the Huskies early on. Nine runs is a tough scoreline to come back from. On the other hand, the nine-run lead gave Baylor a massive boost in confidence on Tuesday.
“We’ve been in so many close games, and the way the Texas Tech game kind of fell apart on us Sunday, I think [the eight-run start to the game against Houston Baptist] just helped everybody relax a little bit and just play,” Smith said.
The eight runs to start the game put Baylor in comfortable position in this one-off midweek game. The huge lead enabled pitchers to settle in with less pressure.
“It really helped to get that lead early,” freshman pitcher Daniel Castano (2-0) said. “After that I could just settle down, throw strikes and let the defense work. We’re kind of a home team right now, which we kind of need to change when we go on the road. I think the win can give us momentum after the series win against Tech. Hopefully, we can keep it rolling and get a sweep or a series win against Oklahoma State.”
Although four pitchers saw the mound for the Bears, all turned in solid shifts. It was only in the ninth inning that the Huskies were able to rake in a couple runs. Baylor already rotated in a secondary lineup of substitutes by that time. Young players such as freshman Lane Kelly and freshman Ben Carl earned valuable innings on the defensive side.
“As the whole [game] panned out, it gave us an opportunity to clear the bench and get a lot of guys in there,” Smith said. “Everybody will go home tonight with a pretty good taste in their mouth.”
Baylor’s all-time record against the Huskies is 3-1. All games between the two programs have been played at Baylor Ballpark. Baylor is tied atop the Big 12 Conference after the series win over Texas Tech last weekend. Baylor was predicted to finish sixth in the Big 12 preseason.
“I think it’s good to get these midweek games, and get ahead early,” sophomore second baseman West Tunnell said. “That way, guys can get in a rhythm and get confident in the box and feel comfortable. That kind of carries [the team] into the weekend.”
This weekend will be OSU’s opening Big 12 series, and it will have to start on the road against the Bears.
Baylor holds a 10-2 record this season at Baylor Ballpark. First pitch of game one will be at 6:35 p.m. Friday, game two at 3:05 p.m. Saturday and game three at 1:05 p.m. Sunday. The series will be televised on Fox College Sports.