Baseball finds offensive groove in sweep of Prairie View A&M

In this Lariat file photo from a matchup against Texas State on April 25, senior Aaron Dodson tries for a hit to the outfield. Photo credit: Liesje Powers

By Nathan Keil | Sports Writer

Baylor baseball (29-17) returned to the diamond for a two game midweek series with Prairie View A&M Tuesday and Wednesday night at Baylor Ballpark.

The Bears showed little signs of rust, erupting for a 15-2 win on Tuesday and 18-1 win on Wednesday to sweep the visiting Panthers.

Baylor head coach Steve Rodriguez praised his team for their approach at the plate after having so much time off.

“I am really happy with the way we reacted to the layoff,” Rodriguez said. “They went in there and took advantage of the situation and the opportunities and had quality at-bats.”

The Bears pounded out 16 hits and started from the opening frame against Panther freshman pitcher Tyler Laux (0-7) en route to a 7-0 lead after four innings.

Laux managed to get the Panthers into the sixth inning but not before he had been tagged for 14 runs on 13 hits and six walks.

Freshman catcher Shea Langeliers started the scoring in the first, launching his team leading eighth home run of the season, a two-run shot to left field.

Langeliers said the coaching staff encouraged an aggressive approach at the plate coming in off a long layoff.

“Our coaches told us to treat it like any other game and come out swinging and play,” Langeliers said. “I got an inside fastball and it was good pitch to hit and I put my best swing on it.”

The Bears added four more in the second with a big blow coming on a three-run home run to right field by sophomore outfielder T.J. Raguse, his first of the season.

Raguse said it was nice to get that proverbial monkey of his back.

“Hopefully, it broke the ice. It took a while but it’s always good to get one,” Raguse said. “I was just looking for something up to hit and I got a changeup high that he left hanging. I saw it and got excited and put a good swing on it, and thankfully it went out.”

Sophomore second baseman Josh Bissonette added three hits and three RBIs, junior outfielder Kameron Esthay added three hits and two RBIs, including a triple in the fourth inning.

It was dominance by committee for Baylor on the hill. Freshman Cody Bradford (5-4) picked up the win, tossing four shutout innings, allowing three hits and three hits while striking out four.

Junior Joe Heineman then tossed two scoreless frames, redshirt junior Alex Phillips pitched two innings, allowing both Panther runs in the eighth and senior Drew Robertson pitched a perfect ninth inning with two strikeouts.

On Wednesday night, Baylor followed a similar blueprint by easily dismantling Prairie View A&M 18-1 at Baylor Ballpark.

The bats got off to a slightly slower start as the Panthers drew first blood in the first inning but once Baylor got on the board in the third inning, the 22-hit barrage it put on Prairie View A&M only continued to pick up speed as the game went on.

Freshman infielder Davis Wendzel got the scoring started with a two-run single in the third. Bissonette followed it up with an RBI single of his own. Langeliers brought in the Bears’ fourth run of the game with a single in the fourth.

However, it was in the fifth that the Bears really found their offensive stride. Sophomore outfielder Richard Cunningham cleared the bases with a three-run double to straight away center field. Langeliers then took a fastball on the outside part of the plate and drilled it to right field for a double of his own, scoring Cunningham from second base.

Following a walk to Esthay, senior designated hitter Matt Menard capped the frame’s scoring with a single to bring in Langeliers.

After a scoreless sixth inning, the Bears erupted for six more runs in the seventh. Freshman catcher Andy Thomas drove in a run with a pinch-hit RBI triple. Esthay brought in another run with a double and senior first baseman Aaron Dodson got in on the fun by adding an RBI single.

Wendzel then put the feather in the cap with a two-run home run to left field.

Wendzel said he hopes his success against the Panthers will help him break out of his current slump heading into the Oklahoma State series.

“It feels great, I was struggling at the beginning. I was pressing through it,” Wendzel said. “It’s starting to click a little bit now.”

Baylor added three more runs in the eight inning, highlighted by a two-run home run by junior infielder Tucker Johnson, his first of the season.

Rodriguez praised his guys coming off the bench and getting some quality at bats and key hits for the Bears.

“To have guys who can come off the bench and pinch-hit and have a quality at-bat, which is a hard thing to do, is a gift,” Rodriguez said. “Those guys have earned it and will find their way into the lineup.”

Freshman pitcher Hayden Kettler (2-0) earned the win, tossing 4 1/3 innings, allowing one run on five hits with one walk and three strikeouts. Five other pitchers combined to keep the Panthers off the board, tallying 10 strikeouts, including junior closer Troy Montemayor, who pitched a perfect ninth inning with two strikeouts.

Baylor hits the road to Stillwater, Okla. this weekend for a Big 12 series with the Oklahoma State Cowboys. Game one is set for 6:30 p.m. Friday