Baseball takes two games, series from Jayhawks

Photo credit: Jessica Hubble

By Nathan Keil | Sports Writer

Baylor baseball (27-17, 8-10) bounced back from last weekend’s series loss to No. 6 TCU to take two out of three games and the series from Kansas over the weekend at Hoglunds Ballpark in Lawrence, Kan.

After taking the series opener 5-4 on Friday, Saturday’s game was cancelled due to weather, forcing the two to play a doubleheader on Sunday. Baylor took the opener 3-1 before falling 6-1 in a travel shortened seven innings game.

In the Bears’ win on Friday, senior pitcher Nick Lewis (5-4) returned to early season form. He tossed 5 1/3 innings, allowing four runs on five hits with one walk and two strikeouts.

After surrendering a run in the first inning on Friday, the Baylor bats got to work in the second. Senior first baseman Aaron Dodson did the most damage, launching a three run home run to center. Sophomore shortstop Josh Bissonnette then tripled and came in to score on sophomore outfielder Richard Cunningham’s sacrifice fly.

Junior Kameron Esthay brought in the fifth run of the game for Baylor on a groundout in the third inning.

Kansas, however, refused to go away quietly, tagging Lewis for three runs in the sixth and stranding the tying run at third base in the seventh and eight innings.

Junior closer Troy Montemayor came into close the door on the Jayhawks, earning his ninth save with a perfect ninth including, two strikeouts.

Baylor head coach Steve Rodriguez said his bullpen was the key in the Bears getting the victory.

“That was such a huge shutdown inning by [sophomore] Kyle Hill in the eighth. Guy on third base with nobody out and he starts throwing fastball by guys,” Rodriguez said. “It was a really impressive outing by him, and to have Troy [Montemayor] do what he did in the ninth was impressive as well.”

In the first game of Sunday’s doubleheader, Baylor rode an impressive performance from junior pitcher Montana Parsons (4-2). Parsons threw seven shutout innings, while limiting the Jayhawks to just two hits and two walks while striking out eight.

Hill allowed a run in the eighth and stranded two more to preserve the lead before handing it off to Montemayor, who earned his tenth save on a perfect ninth inning.

Cunningham brought in the first two runs of the game for the Bears with a sacrifice fly in the third inning and an RBI double in the fifth inning.

Esthay then added an exclamation point with a solo home run to left field.

The Bears were unable to complete the sweep, falling 6-1 in the finale. Freshman pitcher Cody Bradford (4-4) took the loss, only lasting three innings while allowing three runs on four hits with three walks and three strikeouts.

Junior shortstop Matt McLaughlin drove in the first run of the game for the Jayhawks with an RBI double to left center. He finished with two of Kansas’ five doubles on the day.

Sophomore outfielder Devin Foyle added a two-run home run in the third, extending the Jayhawks’ lead to 3-0. Freshman second baseman James Cosentino then added another two run shot to left field in the fourth and the Jayhawks added a run in the sixth on a sacrifice fly.

For Kansas head coach Ritch Price, it was good to see the young Jayhawks wake up at the plate for the final game of the series.

“After the way we struggled Friday night and in game one today, it was nice to see some of our players clutch up and score early,” Price said on Kansas’ official athletic site. “I think that takes the pressure off a young team like we have. You can almost feel the sense of relief that we are over the hump and we can relax and have good at bats.”

Baylor had its opportunities at the plate but couldn’t come up with the big hit, stranding nine runners over the course of the game. Cunningham brought in the only run for the Bears with a sacrifice fly in the seventh inning.

Rodriguez said he was proud of his team for its effort in a tough environment despite being unable to get the sweep.

“We just could not get a hit when we needed it in the second game,” Rodriguez said. “Sweeping is tough but sweeping on the road is even tougher. I’m proud of the way the guys competed this weekend to win a road series.”

Baylor will now be off for the next nine days as it heads into finals week. The Bears return home for a two game midweek series with Prairie View A&M beginning at 6:30 p.m. on May 9 at Baylor Ballpark.