Baylor baseball takes on Kansas State this weekend in a three-game Big 12 Conference road series.
The Bears (17-20, 4-8) are in the midst of a four-game losing streak after being swept by Oklahoma and then dropping a midweek game to Sam Houston State.
“I know we haven’t won our games, but we’ve been playing really well,” head coach Steve Rodriguez said. “There’s been a lot of good things happening from an offensive standpoint and from a pitching standpoint. The biggest focus this week has been trying to eliminate some of the smaller mistakes that are costing us these games.”
Many of the Bears’ recent losses have come in close games and have been a result of defensive lapses rather than a lack of offense or bad pitching.
“It’s frustrating because it’s really one of the things we like to pride ourselves on,” Rodriguez said, “making sure we’re able to pick the ball up and throw it across the diamond. We’ve made some mistakes. That’s what’s frustrating and our guys know it.”
The Big 12 is close in standings, with only two teams, Texas Tech and TCU, having less than five losses. Places three through 10 in the standings are separated by only a few wins.
In Baylor’s conference games, though its record may not show it, the Bears have never been out of any contest, losing in the last few innings due to a few mistakes here and there.
“Those are the things we’re talking about with our guys is just making sure that we’re finding a way to win those games,” Rodriguez said, “because literally within our conference we’re one hit away from beating Texas Tech and we could have swept Oklahoma but we didn’t and we had a couple games against Oklahoma State where we were one hit away from doing some pretty good damage.”
The Wildcats (16-21, 3-9), meanwhile, sit at last place in the conference, but have split their last six conference games with three wins and three losses.
“They’ve been playing really well,” Rodriguez said, “so we just have to go up there and do what we’re supposed to do.”
K-State is led by senior outfielder Clayton Dalrymple, who leads the team in runs, hits and batting average, and senior pitcher Levi MaVorhis who holds a team-best 3.91 era and boasts a 4-3 record.
The Wildcats have picked up the majority of their wins on their home field while they only have five wins on the road.
“They’re going to be aggressive,” Rodriguez said. “Their starting pitching has been pretty good. We know offensively, especially at their ballpark, they’re going to be attacking.”
The Bears will send out their cemented starting pitching rotation this weekend as junior Daniel Castano will start Friday with junior Drew Tolson and freshman Kyle Hill starting on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
“These guys have done what they’re supposed to do,” Rodriguez said of the weekend starting rotation. “Those are the things that have led to some of our success and allow us to get deep into games with a chance to win is just that starting pitching.”
After the series against K-State, the Bears return home to face Incarnate Word in a midweek game before hitting the road to take on West Virginia over the weekend.