By Jeffrey Swindoll
The Bears kept riding the waves of fortune after getting a 1-0 win Tuesday night against Texas Southern University to start a two-game winning streak. Baylor baseball can keep the victory flame burning going into an expectedly cold weekend at Kansas State.
Baylor struck quick with a run, as they have done on numerous occasions this season. Sophomore West Tunnell ripped his first-career triple into the outfield on his first at-bat. The next batter, senior Brett Doe, got on base and hit Tunnell home.
“We always try and jump on them early,” Tunnell said. “We’ve kind of been a team that scores early in a game and then just try and hold it throughout the game. It’s nice to get a good start because that kind of spring jumps you the rest of the game.”
Offense was dry from both dugouts. With only three-hits apiece in the game and Baylor’s defensive unit cleaning up the field well, it could have been difficult for Baylor’s hitters to find any optimism from their performance, but Tunnell said there were positives to takeaway from Tuesday’s low-hit standoff.
“The three hits doesn’t really attest to the way we swung the bats because we really hit some balls pretty well, but they were just right at people,” Tunnell said. “The hits come. You’ve just to stick with the process and let it take care of itself.”
It was a quick game. After Saturday’s doubleheader, the Bears were pleased to get a quick win and as much rest as possible before a Big 12 matchup this weekend. A short-and-sweet game like the one the Bears played on Tuesday was just what Baylor head coach Steve Smith could have wanted.
“West was at second base because Lawton [Langford] needed to rest. Menard had the same thing,” Smith said. “There were other guys with a similar situation so it was good to have that tonight.”
Sophomore pitcher Drew Tolson earned his first career win Tuesday and it was a long time coming for that to even be a possibility. Tolson said he felt strong and comfortable with the way the defense played behind him.
“I felt pretty good. I got ground balls, fly balls and let the defense do their work,” Tolson said. “That’s kind of the way I like to pitch.”
Tolson went through some valleys before getting his debut win. Before playing for Baylor, Tolson underwent Tommy John surgery. When he arrived at Baylor, his process for getting back to 100 percent was a year-long saga.
“It’s been a pretty long journey. I had the surgery after my senior year of high school, spent all of freshman year in the training room. So being back out on the field with the team again, it’s a lot of fun.”
Smith gave Tolson the start after losing his first four games, having yet to win a game too. Losses aside, Smith has been impressed by most of what he’s seen from Tolson so far this season. Tuesday night was a huge step for Tolson.
“I’ve liked what I’ve seen out of him the last couple times. For me, he threw really good in relief at [Dallas Baptist University] on Friday night, and I was glad to see that we could still throw him tonight.
It was kind of a quick turnaround, but he was sharp. So far, he seems to get a little better the longer you leave him out there.”
The Bears face Kansas State this weekend after a week-off from Big 12 play and will travel to Manhattan, Kan. for a chilly showdown with the Wildcats.
“These two wins we’ve gotten, they’re just going to keep us going and we’re going to keep playing well,” Tunnell said.