Bears face talented Red Raiders in weekend series

Photo credit: Liesje Powers

By Ben Everett | Sports Writer

Baylor baseball hopes to get the season back on track as the Bears face Texas Tech this weekend in a three-game series in Lubbock.

The Bears (19-10, 2-4) are just 4-8 since the start of Big 12 Conference play after a 15-2 start to the season.

The Red Raiders (26-6, 4-2) hold a daunting 13-1 record when playing at home.

Baylor head coach Steve Rodriguez says that while Tech raises a challenge, the team is just trying to get back to playing good baseball.

“The biggest challenge we have is not Texas Tech or going there,” Rodriguez said. “I think we need to focus on going play by play. We’ve talked to our guys about focusing on the moment and executing like we can and like we did at the beginning of the season.”

Despite starting the season swinging hot, the Bears are averaging less than three runs per game in their last eight losses.

Senior pitcher Nick Lewis, who will start tonight’s game for the Bears, says the team is stuck in a rut, but a road trip could help them get back on track.

“We’re kind of in a tricky spot,” Lewis said. “We’re not playing too well. I think it’ll be good to get on the road. We’re going to get out there [today] and see a good team, and we’ve just got to play well.”

The bullpen has been solid all year for the Bears with sophomore Kyle Hill, senior Drew Robertson and junior closer Troy Montemayor locking down opponents as each has an earned run average of 1.50 or less. But Baylor will need the starting rotation of Lewis, junior Montana Parsons and freshman Cody Bradford to perform at a high level in order to beat the Red Raiders.

Texas Tech will rely upon the trio of sophomore starting pitchers Steven Gingery, Davis Martin and Ryan Shetter who have a combined 12-1 record. Gingery leads the team with a 0.92 ERA and 54 strikeouts.

Rodriguez says the experience of the three will be tough for the Bears to overcome, especially in Lubbock.

“They’re talented,” Rodriguez said. “All their pitching is back. They’re an older group. They play really well at their place, and they have really good pitching.”

Senior designated hitter Matt Menard says that despite the Red Raider’s strength, the team has a chance to turn the season around.

“We’ve got a tall task ahead of us,” Menard said, “but I think we’re going to put something together this weekend. We have a lot of fight and a lot of grit. We just have to play with the same passion that we did in the first 15 games. If we bring that to Lubbock, I think we’ll be all right.”

The games will be played at 6:35 p.m. tonight, 2 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Following the series, the Bears will return to Waco to face Sam Houston State in a midweek game on Tuesday.