No. 29 Baylor baseball finally got to play in favorable weather against University of Incarnate Word at Baylor Ballpark on Tuesday night with a 5-2 victory.
The game marked the first of back-to-back games between Baylor and UIW. The Bears (14-13, 4-4) now hold a 13-3 record at Baylor Ballpark.
Baylor opened the scoring in the second inning. Freshman catcher Matt Menard blasted a pitch a deep into center field for a triple.
After Incarnate Word walked sophomore first baseman Mitch Price following Menard’s triple, freshman outfielder Aaron Dodson brought Menard home on a sacrificial fly.
Dodson made an even greater impression on the game later on.
“[Hitting] has been something we’ve been lacking especially in the last ten games or so,” Menard said. “We just haven’t had a very good time with hits. Tonight, when we were able to string some hits together, it was huge for our confidence. We’ve just got to continue to build on that.”
Incarnate Word tied it up in the top of the fourth on a wild pitch. UIW infielder Aaron Warren got on third after his triple to right center and on the next batter, senior pitcher Dillon Newman threw the ball past Menard.
Warren came home to put UIW back in the game. Baylor’s defense cleaned up the rest of the frame on two grounders and one pop-up.
Newman started for the Bears on Tuesday after being out for two weeks with minor injury concerns. Given the circumstances of it being against non-conference opponent in a mid-week game.
This was, in many ways, a recovery shift for Newman. Other than some early issues and the wild pitch, Newman threw a relatively clean 6-inning performance with four strikeouts.
“I thought [Newman] finished good. He was real efficient,” Baylor head coach Steve Smith said. “I did think he got better. I thought his last inning was his best.”
Newman gave Incarnate Word a lifeline in the fourth, but Baylor’s offense came right back to put the pressure on UIW once a again in the bottom half of the inning.
Menard got on base for a second time. In this case, it was a double.
Price then put Menard and himself on base with a single. The next batter up, Dodson, changed the game completely.
Dodson, a true freshman, earning a somewhat rare start on Tuesday, steps up and slams a go-ahead three-run homer to right center.
The crowd and the team went wild to see Dodson get his first home run for Baylor, and to put Baylor in the lead 4-1.
“It’s the best feeling in the world. You can’t beat it right now,” Dodson said. “When guys get on, it puts you in the spotlight, and you’ve got to deliver for your team and your coaches. You’ve just got to get it done.”
Incarnate Word bounced back in the next inning to tack on one run.
Multiple-run hits have been a scarce commodity for the Bears this season, but Dodson shattered the hitting slump Baylor has experienced lately with his home run.
“To see [Dodson] take as good of an at-bat as he did and to see him take as good of a swing as he did, and for us to score three runs on one swing of the bat, it’s great for his confidence as well as the team’s confidence,” Baylor head coach Steve Smith said.
Offense slowed down after Dodson’s homer for both teams.
Senior pitcher Doug Ashby replaced Newman for 1.2 innings, giving up only two hits, no runs and a strikeout facing eight batters.
Smith’s primary closer, senior pitcher Josh Michalec took the mound in the ninth and got the job done — no hits, no runs and another Baylor victory.
The Bears face Incarnate Word once again at 4 p.m. today at Baylor Ballpark.