By Jeffrey Swindoll
No. 29 Baylor baseball has won each of its two conference series this season, but this weekend will be the Bears’ first time battling for a Big 12 game or series win away from Baylor Ballpark.
The home field has proven to be an advantageous fortress for the Bears (13-11, 4-2) this season. Road games have been a nuisance for Baylor though, only winning one and losing five games this season. On top of that, it will be Baylor Baseball’s first time going to West Virginia ever. Baylor leads the all-time series against West Virginia 2-1.
“It’s their first conference series. I think that will give us a slight advantage,” senior pitcher Dillon Newman said. “I’m really interested to see what they all got up there.”
Baylor’s weekend-tandem of pitchers, junior Brad Kuntz (4-0), junior Austin Stone (3-1) and Newman (2-1) have only lost two games in total this season. Kuntz, who will start on Friday has come back from injury in fine form and is undefeated so far this season.
“[The pitchers] may in some way be competing against each other, but they’re really not. They’re all competing against the guy at the plate,” Baylor head coach Steve Smith said. “I think the strength of our team has definitely been about the starting pitching and [Josh Michalec] at the end. That’s what most good teams like in the end.”
Kuntz missed all of last season after aggravating an injury from his high school pitching career. After staying in Waco all summer, going through training to get back on the mound for the Bears, Kuntz has returned with a fire this season. Kuntz said the injury really taught him to cherish his time playing baseball.
“It gets better each time out,” junior pitcher Brad Kuntz said. “I think the hard work is paying off, and I’m just enjoying it right now.”
Newman was forced to miss the past two conference series against Texas Tech and Oklahoma State because of injury issues. Though it was frustrating and two weeks of recovery, Newman is expected to return to the mound.
“We’ve got to continue to pitch well at the start of it for sure, and hopefully get some guys going offensively where we’re a little more productive,” Smith said.
Weather has not been kind to the Bears early this season. A disastrous weekend of rain and rescheduling in San Diego, sporadic winds and a 4-hour weather delay on Sunday at Baylor Ballpark note some of the major issues with weather the Bears have faced. It does not look like West Virginia will be any different.
“I don’t know if it’s going to be colder, but It looks like it’s going to be ‘wetter’, but our mood is just– we want to play.” Smith said.
The West Virginia Mountaineers (13-8, 0-0) open their home conference season against the Bears with games at 1 p.m. Friday, 3 p.m. Saturday and 12:30 p.m. Sunday at Appalachian Power Park in Charleston, W. Va. Sunday’s game will be on Fox Sports 1.
Weather has not been kind to the Bears early this season. A disastrous weekend of rain and rescheduling in San Diego, sporadic winds and a 4-hour weather delay on Sunday at Baylor Ballpark note some of the major issues with weather the Bears have faced. It does not look like West Virginia, although the farthest location in the conference for Baylor, will be any different in terms of rough weather conditions.