By Jeffrey Swindoll
A day after toppling the University of Incarnate Word Cardinals 5-2 at Baylor Ballpark, No. 29 Baylor baseball turned in a 4-3 win over the Cardinals at Baylor Ballpark on Wednesday afternoon.
Freshman pitcher Daniel Castano set up the win for the Bears, giving up only one unearned run and throwing six strikeouts in seven innings of work against the Cardinals.
“[Castano] pitched well today. We needed it,” Baylor head coach Steve Smith said. “He ate up a lot of innings with not a ton of pitches and was effective at the same time.”
Castano admitted he went for a few more innings than he is used to pitching, but said he liked going longer than usual on Wednesday’s outing. Castano has settled himself into a role as Baylor’s best mid-week pitcher and said his success will carry over to a probable start against Texas on Sunday.
“He’s the best fourth starter we’ve got right now,” Smith said. “Bullpens only keep games close. You’ve got to have a back end, but to get to a back end, you’ve got to have a starter. I don’t think many people are going to win games or championships with starters going three or four innings.”
The only run Incarnate Word got off Castano came on an underthrown ball to third that noun
ed past Castano who was covering third base on the play. The ball skipped into Baylor’s dugout fence, and Incarnate Word opened the scoring in the second inning.
A minor hiccup from Baylor’s defense put them down a run, but Castano remained strong all game.
“I really have to give credit to our catcher Nate Goodwin. Coach kind of gave him the handles, and he really took over,” Castano said. “He could really see the batters’ stances and how they were trying to hit me, and we went off that. I think he did a great job behind the plate and helped me get a lot of those outs.”
Castano credited Goodwin for making good defensive decisions on Wednesday, but Goodwin also earned his own credit with his bat against Incarnate Word. Smith said Goodwin used to bat left- and right-handed, but stopped switch-batting about three years ago and only hit with his right.
Goodwin apparently reworked his left-handed batting due to a significant lack of left-handed batters in Baylor’s lineup.
“[Goodwin] is going to be a doctor so we all know he’s real smart,” Smith said. “He looks at our bench and sees we don’t have any left-handed hitters. He wants to play, so he worked on his left-handed hitting and gets in there and gets a hit left-handed.”
It was on that left side of the box that Goodwin batted in the go-ahead run for the Bears. Goodwin, who was filling in at catcher for redshirt freshman Matt Menard, lined up for the pitch on his left hand and singled to left field, earning the RBI on Dodson’s run.
“I think it’s been about since sophomore year that I’ve been all ‘righty,’ and then recently I picked it back up,” Goodwin said. “I actually see the ball better left-handed, at least right now. I’ve always been more of a natural lefty. I picked it up pretty quick again.”
Baylor’s pitching gave the Bears position to win against Incarnate Word more so than Baylor’s hitting. Offense has been lackluster for the Bears in the past couple of weeks. Fortunately for the Bears, the starting pitchers, as well as senior closer Josh Michalec, have taken care of business. The pitchers are the heart and soul of Baylor’s ball club, and against Incarnate Word, they proved it once again.
The Bears defended their home ballpark with back-to-back midweek victories against Incarnate Word and will try to use that momentum as they travel to Austin this weekend for a much-anticipated Big 12 clash with the Texas Longhorns. The weekend series against UT starts at 7 p.m. Friday.