By Jeffrey Swindoll
Baylor baseball was scorched by the red-hot No. 20 Houston Cougars 11-0 Tuesday night at Baylor Ballpark. Houston crushed Baylor’s pitching staff behind seven runs scored in the final three innings.
Freshman starter Theron Kay got off to a rough start, putting runners on second and third base in the first inning. Kay made it out of the first inning unscathed to keep the score 0-0, but Baylor’s coach said his pitcher was fortunate in the first frame.
“I thought [Kay] was just unenthusiastic and like watching paint dry the first inning, and I thought he was lucky to get with just a hit,” head coach Steve Smith said. “I thought he got a little better as it went along. But, right now, it’s too much, too fast, too soon.”
Baylor’s defense kept it even with Kay on the mound for four innings, but the Cougars took first blood in the fifth inning, scoring four runs. Smith called on senior right-hander Joe Kirkland to replace Kay in the fifth.
“I think that what we’re learning is that [Kay] isn’t ready for this at this level, right now. But we’re learning that about a number of people,” Smith said. “We’re real thin. We’re having to run multiple guys out there in short time frames. Nobody’s going to feel sorry us.”
It was a rough night all around for the Bears’ pitching staff. Many pitchers saw time on the mound and few, if any, were able to quell Houston’s relentless attack. The Bears’ defense committed four errors that contributed to Houston’s offensive field day. Baylor is 1-2 against Texas schools in midweek home games this season.
Hit production was not Baylor’s issue. The Bears, posting eight hits, were very much level with the Cougars in that respect. It was the usage of those hits that which Baylor struggled most on Tuesday night. Houston converted 11 hits into 11 runs.
Baylor shuffled through five pitchers Tuesday night, four of them having significant difficulty against Houston. Kirkland allowed three runs off two hits. Junior right-hander Kody Hessemer barely pitched at all, allowing three runs off four hits from six batters faced. Freshman right-hander Kyle Ott pitched an inning, throwing one hit that eventually resulted in one run.
Smith spoke of his club’s issues in depth and inexperience being factors in the team’s growing pains at this point in the season. Players like Kay, he said, should be throwing out of the bullpen on a good ball club. However, Kay is having to start mid-week on a, in his own words, “pretty mediocre, average” team.
“We’re either too young or not good enough. Take your pick,” Smith said. “I’m going to watch it for the rest of the year before I make a final rendering on that, but’s either one or the other.”
The Bears face Texas State this weekend, starting the series away in San Marcos and finishing the final two games at Baylor Ballpark.