By Jeffrey Swindoll
Baylor baseball snapped its five-game losing streak against the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders with a 8-4 victory Wednesday at Baylor Ballpark.
“What’s nice about this is being able to see that many young guys playing, and we I think we handled it pretty well,” Baylor head coach Steve Smith said.
The Bears broke the Islanders’ backs with a four-run eighth inning. Leading only by two runs for most of the game, the Bears found themselves with a five-run cushion with senior pitcher Josh Michalec on the mound to close it out, earning a school record 16th career save in a single season, ranking fifth on the all-time Big 12 list in single-season saves.
Smith called it remarkable that Michalec broke this record in his first year as a closer, not having a single save to his name before this season.
“A lot of pride goes into our team and throughout the years we’ve had a lot of successful guys come through this program,” Michalec said. “I love the fact that I’ve been able to do that, not having a save in my career, and the fact that I can do it with my best friends, you know, the guys on the team.”
The Bears loaded the bases and scored three runs in the fourth inning to take a 3-2 lead. Baylor kept the bats hot. Scoring a run in the sixth to make it a two-run game, and four runs in the eighth to extend the lead to five runs, this lineup of mostly reserves was making a strong impression to coach Smith about his ball club’s depth and determination.
“This was an interesting game,” Smith said. “We scored four runs on one hit. We usually score one run on four hits. So, maybe we’re starting to come around a little bit.”
The Bears hit the road to face the Oklahoma Sooners in Norman, Okla. this weekend. If the Bears plan on fulfilling their team goal of a successful run to the Big 12 tournament, they will need to win a road series.
“[Qualifying for the Big 12 tournament] is our goal now,” junior outfielder Adam Toth said. “It was a Big 12 championship, and as the season went on we just want to make the Big 12 tournament. We plan on doing it.”
In order to climb above .500 and make the tournament, the Bears will need more than one night of pitching heroics from their freshman pitcher Daniel Castano.