Story by Nathan Keil | Sports Editor, Video by Elisabeth Tharp | Broadcast Reporter
Baylor sophomore Cody Bradford was ready to step back into his Friday night role.
After missing his Oklahoma start due to an injury and starting the last two weekends on Saturday against Texas and Memphis, Bradford was lights out in his return to the ace role.
Looking to extend its three-game winning streak and make a second half run toward postseason play, Baylor turned to Bradford and he delivered with his best performance as a Bear.
Bradford pitched a complete game, one-hit shutout against the Horned Frogs as the Bears took the series opener 6-0 Friday night at Baylor Ballpark.
“I can’t put words to it right now. My adrenaline is still going,” Bradford said. “But I’ve been dreaming about a game like that my entire life, and tonight the Good Lord made it come true.”
TCU entered the weekend series in the middle of the Big 12 pack with a 6-5 record and was without its junior first baseman Luken Baker, who broke his leg on Tuesday and will miss the remainder the season. Without Baker, the offense was unable to get anything going against Bradford.
Bradford retired the side in order in the first three innings, collecting a pair of strikeouts along the way. But it was the fourth, that TCU had its one shot to make it a game.
Trailing 1-0, sophomore catcher Zach Humphreys drew a walk to open the frame. After Bradford collected his third strikeout, senior outfielder A.J. Balta singled through the hole on the right side, putting a pair of runners on with just one out.
Bradford then got a fly out and his fourth strikeout to end the only threat he faced all night as he retired the final 17 batters he faced on his way to his first complete game.
Bradford finished with 10 strikeouts as well.
But Bradford also got some help from his defense as senior shortstop Tucker Cascadden made several really nice plays, including a diving stop between short and third base to rob senior first baseman Michael Landestoy of a hit.
On the flip side for TCU, sophomore lefty Nick Lodolo was not at his best against Baylor’s offense. The Bears tagged him for five runs on seven hits with two walks and four strikeouts in just 3 2/3 innings.
It was freshman outfielder Nik Loftin, who served as the catalyst for Baylor’s offense Friday night. Loftin finished reached base four times, had three hits and drove in a pair of runs and it started with an infield single in the first off Lodolo.
After his single, redshirt junior designated hitter Richard Cunningham doubled to the gap in left-center and sophomore first baseman Andy Thomas delivered an RBI single to left, giving Baylor a 1-0 lead.
With the bases loaded and two outs in the fourth, Loftin hit a ball that took a tricky hop on freshman Adam Oviedo at shortstop, going under his glove and scoring a pair.
Still with two outs, sophomore third baseman Davis Wendzel laced a two-run single to left field, putting Baylor in front 5-0.
Sophomore catcher Shea Langeliers gave the Bears some more insurance when he launched his eighth home run of the season to left to lead off the fifth inning.
And that would be more than enough for Bradford and the Bears as they improve to 13-6 at Baylor Ballpark this season and improve to 4-9 in Big 12 play.
“Being able to hold TCU, which is a pretty offensive team, to one hit, those are pretty memorable moments and I’m pretty happy for him to be able to get that,” Baylor head coach Steve Rodriguez said.
Baylor (20-17, 4-9) and TCU (19-15, 6-6) will meet for game two at 3:05 p.m. tomorrow and will conclude the series at 1:05 p.m. Sunday.