Baseball seeks first Big 12 series win

Junior catcher Matt Menard watches the ball after getting a hit against UTSA on Tuesday at Baylor Ballpark. The Bears are 1-2 in Big 12 conference play after losing games one and three against Texas Tech earlier in the season. Photo credit: Trey Honeycutt

Baylor Baseball takes on Kansas this weekend in a three game series at Baylor Ballpark.

The Bears (11-13) are coming off a thrilling comeback win over UTSA on Tuesday night after taking two of three games in a series against Dallas Baptist over the weekend.

“I think we’re in a pretty good place,” head coach Steve Rodriguez said. “And for us coaches, it is good to see guys fight and come back, and I think we’ve done a pretty good job of that this year.”

The Jayhawks (9-13) are also riding a two-game winning streak, having upset No. 16-ranked Missouri State and blowing out Benedictine College in two impressive home wins.

Kansas, however, is struggling in road games as well as Big 12 conference games this season, holding 0-4 and 0-2 records respectively.

The Bears currently hold a 1-2 record in conference after stealing a win from Texas Tech in a home series earlier in the year.

“I think every win, especially in Big 12 play, is gonna be big for us,” Rodriguez said. “There’s nothing worse than putting yourself in a deficit than having to win every game down the stretch.”

Baylor has shown consistency this season in both home and away games, holding an 8-9 home record while winning three of seven road games.

“I think any time you’re playing at home, you should have the mindset that you’re going to win the game,” Rodriguez said. “I think it’s important to be able to win on the road, but you should win the majority of your games at home.”

The Bears will look to junior OF Darryn Sheppard to provide a spark on offense just as he has done all season.

Sheppard is having a career year so far, batting .329 while accumulating a team-high 3 HR and 23 RBI.

“The first time I saw him, I knew he had some ability and some skills,” Rodriguez said of Sheppard. “We like to make sure he’s getting the most out of his ability and the best for this team.”

Junior Daniel Castano will be taking the mound on Friday for Baylor, followed by junior Drew Tolson on Saturday and freshman Kyle Hill on Sunday.

Castano (2-3) holds a season ERA of 4.34 while Tolson (2-1) and Hill (0-1) are currently at 5.00 and 5.54, respectively.

The Bears’ pitching staff will need to contain Kansas’ Colby Wright, who is batting .344 on the year but putting up an impressive .571 average in Big 12 play.

“They’re gonna be aggressive,” Rodriguez said of the Jayhawks. “They’ve got some guys who can run, and they’ve got some big, tall pitchers who can compete down in the zone.”

After the series against Kansas, the Bears will play two midweek games at home against Wofford before hitting the road to face Oklahoma in a three game series.