By Jeffrey Swindoll
Following a weekend of three straight losses to Cal-State Fullerton, Baylor baseball hopes to bounce back over spring break. Baylor, Texas A&M, Louisiana State University, Hawaii, Nebraska and the University of Houston will participate in the annual Houston Baseball Classic at Minute Maid Park in downtown Houston.
Baylor plays Hawaii at noon Friday; LSU at 3:30 p.m. Saturday; and Texas A&M at 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Sophomore pitcher Daniel Castano will pitch on Friday, sophomore pitcher Drew Tolson on Saturday and senior pitcher Austin Stone on Sunday.
The Bears were swept this past weekend after an error-ridden double-header pushed Cal-State Fullerton into full control of the series. Senior outfielder Adam Toth said the Bears still have many good things to take away from last weekend.
“I’m not really trying to look at the negatives of it, but there was a lot of stuff that we did good there, especially the last game,” Toth said. “You know, we had like 15 hits or something. We were hitting balls hard. They just weren’t falling.”
Baylor’s offense kept the Bears alive for most of game two and three, but late-game pitching reopened the scoreboard for Cal-State.
Head coach Steve Smith said the Bears’ pre-conference schedule has been good for the growth of his team. Each opponent has been a quality, challenging matchup, he said. Specifically with the Houston Baseball Classic, Smith said all the teams involved in the event make for “games that matter.”
“We don’t have control of the matchups, but I’m really glad we’re getting the matchups we’re getting,” Smith said. “If you’re going to play in it, you want to play some teams. Honestly, we haven’t played anybody yet that wasn’t. I don’t think from that standpoint that the teams we’re playing are going to be anything really any different than what we’ve been doing. I’m glad we got the schedule we’ve got.”
Saturday will be Baylor’s first time playing Texas A&M since its departure from the Big 12 Conference. For players, it brings back special memories and a classic rivalry between the two schools.
Baylor’s seniors on the roster were freshmen in the Bears’ historic season of winning the Big 12 Championship in 2012. Part of that memorable run was a series against Texas A&M in front of a sold-out crowd at Baylor Ballpark. Getting to see the Aggies again will be something the Bears will relish.
“I remember that clear as day,” Toth said. “That’s one of the funnest years I’ve had playing here, was against A&M. That’s going to be nice to play them again.”
LSU has lost just one game this season out of 13 games played. All 13 of those games have been at home. The Aggies are undefeated in 13 games. Hawaii holds a 5-8 record.
“We’re not looking at the opponent. We’re just playing baseball when we go down there. And we’re just trying to get better each day.”