Erratic pitching results in blowout loss to UTSA

Photo credit: Jessica Hubble

By Ben Everett | Sports Writer

Baylor baseball dropped a home game to UTSA 15-9 Tuesday night at Baylor Ballpark after a young pitching staff failed to contain the opponents’ bats.

The Bears (18-7) sent out seven different pitchers on the day, five of them freshman, and combined allowed 21 hits.

Baylor head coach Steve Rodriguez says the goal was to get younger guys experience on the mound.

“It was a good opportunity for us to get a lot of guys experience,” Rodriguez said. “One thing they had been talking about was at what point were we going to have an opportunity to get these young pitchers to come in.”

Junior starting pitcher Alex Phillips struggled early, giving up three straight hits on the first three at-bats of the game as the Roadrunners took a 1-0 lead.

Phillips walked the next batter to load the bases, forcing Rodriguez to send relief pitchers to the bullpen to warm up.

UTSA’s CJ Pickering hit a sacrifice fly to left field, driving in another run to give the Roadrunners a 2-0 lead. Ben Brookover and Tony Beam continued the onslaught for UTSA, collecting a couple hits to drive in two more runs and put the Roadrunners up 4-0 in the first inning.

Phillips escaped the inning with a strikeout of designated hitter JT Gilmore.

In the bottom of the first, the Bears loaded the bases on singles from sophomore outfielder T.J. Raguse and senior designated hitter Matt Menard followed by a walk of junior outfielder Kameron Esthay.

The runners advanced on a wild pitch as Raguse scored to put Baylor on the board, but senior first baseman Aaron Dodson struck out to leave two on base with the Bears down 4-1.

Freshman pitcher Hayden Kettler came in for Phillips in the second inning but could not find success on the mound either. Kettler proceeded to give up a single and a two-run homer as the Roadrunners upped their lead to 6-1.

After a tough third inning, Kettler settled down and pitched two scoreless innings before being replaced by freshman Daniel Caruso in the top of the fifth.

UTSA’s Chris Estrada managed his way to third base after a single, and error and a wild pitch and scored on a sac-fly to extend the Roadrunners lead to 7-1.

In the sixth, the Roadrunners offense continued to roll with Bryan Arias launching a two-run homer past centerfield as UTSA led 9-1.

To start the seventh, freshman relief pitcher Luke Boyd took the mound to attempt to stop the scintillating UTSA offense.

Boyd managed to get one out, but found himself with the bases loaded when Rodriguez pulled him for yet another freshman pitcher in Trevor Harris.

Harris immediately allowed a single to center as the Roadrunners went up 10-1. Arias delivered again for UTSA, dropping a single to left field and drive in two runners before running in himself on a single to make it a 13-1 game.

In the eighth, Rodriguez inserted freshman pitcher Ryan Leckich.

In the bottom of the eighth, the Bears scored on a single from junior pinch-hitter Tucker Johnson to bring the score to 14-2.

Junior Joe Heineman came in to finish the game for Baylor in the ninth, becoming the seventh Bears pitcher to take the mound on the day. The Roadrunners managed another run in the final frame to pad the lead at 15-2.

The Bears brought in a couple more runners in the bottom of the ninth off of a single from Raguse to make it a 15-4 game. Baylor added five more runs but it was not enough to overcome the early deficit, as the Bears lost 15-9.

Despite the loss, Rodrigues says there are some positive takeaways from the game.

“I really liked some of the things I saw,” Rodriguez said. “Offensively some guys freed things up and I really liked some of the opportunities some guys got.”

Baylor looks to bounce back as it hits the road to face Washington in a weekend series in Seattle, Wash. starting at 6:35 p.m. Friday night.