By Nathan Keil | Sports Editor
Baylor baseball continues to strengthen its postseason resume.
The Bears pounded out 17 hits and 13 runs while snapping Big 12 leading Oklahoma State’s seven-game conference winning record in taking game one from the Cowboys 13-5 Friday night at Baylor Ballpark.
With the win, Baylor extends its own conference winning streak to seven straight and 13 games overall. The Bears’ last loss came back on April 14 at Memphis.
Sophomore lefty Cody Bradford (6-4) put together another solid performance on the bump for head coach Steve Rodriguez and the Bears.
Bradford won his third straight start for Baylor. He tossed 6 2/3 innings, allowing three runs on five hits. He did at times struggle with his command, walking four, but he struck out 10.
Rodriguez said he was pleased with both the pitching and his team’s offense Friday night in earning another big conference victory.
“Proud of our guys for staying within themselves. They did a great job, that’s a great sign when you’re hitting the ball up the middle,” Rodriguez said. “Having Cody [Bradford] settle down and get us into the seventh inning was a pretty good sign. Really proud of all our guys for what they’ve done and be able to come out today and put a stamp on this Friday game.”
Bradford got a lot of help from his offense. Redshirt junior Richard Cunningham continues to be a problem for opposing pitchers as he had five hits in five trips to the plate Friday night, including a double, home run while driving in three runs.
Oklahoma State had a chance to get to Bradford early as the Cowboys loaded the bases with one out in the first. Junior shortstop Matt Kroon doubled with one out and back-to-back walks filled the bases, but a double play ended the threat.
Baylor took advantage, taking the momentum of a big defensive play and converting it to the offensive approach at the plate.
Freshman shortstop Nick Loftin singled to center, Cunningham doubled to right center and Wendzel drew a walk to load the bases with nobody out.
Thomas then cleared the bases with a three-run double in the left-center field gap, putting Baylor in front 3-0.
Sophomore catcher Shea Langeliers brought Thomas in with a sacrifice fly for a 4-0 lead.
The Cowboys managed to cut the deficit in half in the second, as Oklahoma State got a pair of doubles and RBI single to make it 4-2.
It would remain that way until the Bears tacked on four more in the bottom half of the fourth.
It started with a solo home run from Haring off the foul pole in left field. The next two Bears were retired in order, but Loftin kept the inning alive with a single.
Cunningham then hit an RBI single, scoring Loftin from second base. Wendzel then drilled an RBI double to left center. Thomas capped off the four-run inning with an RBI single to left field as the Bears led 8-2 after four innings.
Leading off the bottom of the sixth, Cunningham put Baylor in front 9-2 with a solo home run to right center.
Oklahoma State then put together a three-run seventh inning to climb back in the game. Bradford struck out sophomore third baseman Michael Neustifter to open the inning, but then allowed his fourth walk of the game as sophomore outfielder Carson McCusker took the free pass.
Bradford struck out redshirt freshman first baseman Daniel DeSimone before giving way to senior Joe Heineman.
Heineman allowed a single to his first hitter and then gave up a three-run home run to left center off the bat of Kroon as Oklahoma State trimmed the Baylor lead to 9-5.
But Baylor got all three runs back and more in the bottom of the seventh.
Cunningham brought one in with a bases loaded single. Wendzel then drove in two more with his second double of the game. Following a walk to Thomas, Langeliers hit his second sacrifice fly of the game, pushing the Baylor lead to 13-5.
The Cowboys could only muster one more base runner in the final two frames, with that runner coming on a Baylor error in the eighth.
Junior Kyle Hill pitched a nearly perfect eighth and ninth innings, striking out three Cowboys in the process, including freshman utility Cody Milligan to end the game.
Baylor (29-17, 10-9) and Oklahoma State (28-18-1, 15-4) will play game two at 3:05 p.m. Saturday with the finale coming at 1:05 p.m. Sunday at Baylor Ballpark.