Baseball routs Arkansas-Pine Bluff to stay perfect

Photo credit: Liesje Powers

By Ben Everett | Sports Writer

Baylor baseball defeated Arkansas-Pine Bluff Golden Lions 17-3 Tuesday at Baylor Ballpark to remain undefeated on the season.

The Bears (9-0) were unstoppable on offense and controlled the Golden Lions (0-7) by utilizing five different pitchers.

Junior starting pitcher Alex Phillips started out strong, recording a strikeout and allowing no runs or hits in the first inning, but he started to slip following the opening frame.

In the second inning, Golden Lions designated hitter Julian Jones hit a double to the right-center gap, and catcher Corey Henderson drove him in with a single to left field as the Golden Lions took a 1-0 lead.

The Bears responded in the bottom of the second inning when junior outfielder Kameron Esthay made it to first on an infield single and was driven in when freshman catcher Andy Thomas smashed a double to the left-center gap to tie the game 1-1.

Sophomore outfielder Richard Cunningham popped a sacrifice fly to centerfield to score Thomas as the Bears went up 2-1 to end the second inning.

Phillips survived the third inning after Golden Lions’ first baseman Juan Soriano’s bomb to centerfield fell just short of the fence.

The Bears built on their lead in the bottom of the third. Sophomore outfielder T.J. Raguse got to second on a single and a stolen base and made it to home off a double down the left field line from senior designated hitter Matt Menard to make it a 3-1 game. Menard then scored on a single from freshman first baseman Davis Wendzel to extend the Bears lead to three runs.

Phillips’ night ended in the third inning as freshman pitcher Hayden Kettler came in to pitch the fourth for the Bears. Kettler struck out the first batter he saw and allowed no runs and just one hit in the fourth inning.

In the bottom of the fourth, Cunningham launched a double to right field and was driven in by a double from junior third baseman Steven McLean to put Baylor on top 5-1.

The Bears kept piling it on as Esthay hit a single to right field to drive in two for Baylor and go up 7-1. A triple from Thomas drove in two more runs as the Bears extended their lead to eight runs.

Kettler struggled in the fifth, allowing two hits and two runs as the Golden Lions attempted to climb back in the game now down 9-3.

The Bears responded in the bottom of the sixth when junior pinch-hitter Cameron Miller got on base with a single and senior first baseman Aaron Dodson launched a homer over centerfield to put the Bears up 11-3.

Baylor junior shortstop Tucker Cascadden and McLean each picked up RBI (runs batted in) singles in the sixth to extend the lead to 13-3. Cascadden and McLean then scored on a double from junior pinch hitter Tucker Johnson as the Bears offense continued to roll.

Freshman relief pitcher Hunter Seay entered the game in the seventh for Baylor in his first appearance of the season. With the bases loaded and two outs, Seay struck out the Golden Lions batter to send the game to the bottom of the seventh.

Seay only lasted one inning as Baylor sent in junior pitcher Kyle Ott in the eighth inning and freshman Daniel Caruso finished it off in the ninth.

Thomas finished with three hits and three runs batted in for his first career start for the Bears, and he said he had no anxiety once the game started.

“It was great,” Thomas said. “Nerves were gone as soon as the first pitch was thrown, and it was back to playing baseball like we were when we were little kids.”

Baylor head coach Steve Rodriguez said it was exciting to see all of his pitchers perform well.

“The biggest thing was to see Alex Phillips do what he did,” Rodriguez said. “Having Ott and Caruso and all those guys and having Hunter Seay get his first college outing was really exciting. The biggest thing I was looking for was effort and I was pretty happy with that.”

The Bears take on Ole Miss at 12:05 p.m. Friday in Houston as a part of the Shriners Hospitals for Children College Classic.