By Nathan Keil | Sports Editor
Baylor baseball split the final two games of its weekend series against No. 20 Oklahoma State.
On Saturday, the Bears saw their nation best 13-game winning streak come to an end as the Cowboys tagged the Baylor pitching staff for 11 runs, including seven home runs in an 11-6 win.
Baylor responded to capture the rubber match Sunday afternoon in the Bears’ final home game of the 2018 season. Baylor climbed above. 500 in Big 12 play for the first time since it took two of three against Texas Tech in its opening series, with a 7-3 win over Oklahoma State.
On Saturday, Baylor had a difficult time keeping Oklahoma State in the park. Sophomore outfielder Trevor Boone went four for four at the plate with three home runs, junior outfielder Colin Simpson had two home runs and drove in five, while junior infielder Matt Kroon and sophomore infielder Michael Neustifter each hit solo home runs.
Baylor head coach Steve Rodriguez said that Oklahoma State did a great job of putting some great swings to the ball and taking advantage of a stiff breeze at Baylor Ballpark.
“With the wind blowing out and the way they swing, you really have to pitch above their bat or below their bat and we were kind of going right in their swing plane today,” Rodriugez said. “We were trying to get them to make some adjustments down, but sometimes it’s just hard. It’s a great learning experience. Sometimes you have to go through that pain to understand you don’t want to have that feeling again.”
Sophomore righty Hayden Kettler (6-4) took most of the beating on the mound. Kettler was responsible for six of the home runs while lasting just 3 1/3 on the mound. He allowed 10 runs, walked three and struck out four.
The Cowboys scored in each of the first five innings, getting two in the first, one in the second, three in the third, four in the fourth and one more in the fifth.
In the first, Simpson hit his first home run of the game, a two-run shot to right as OK State grabbed a 2-0 lead.
In the second, Boone went deep for the first time, hitting a solo shot to left as the Cowboys retook the lead, 3-2.
Kroon opened the third with a solo home run to left-center. Three batters later, Boone went deep for the second straight inning, this time a two-run shot to straight away center field, increasing the lead to 6-2.
Neustifter led off the fourth with a solo shot to left field. Following an error and a walk, Simpson hit his second home of the game, a three-run shot to left-center, putting the Cowboys in front 10-3.
Finally, in the fifth, Boone hit his third home run of the game, a solo shot to left to open the frame, extending the lead to 11-4.
Baylor did its best to try to match Oklahoma offensively, but it wasn’t enough. The Bears scored two in the first and one in the third, fourth, fifth and seventh.
Sophomore catcher Shea Langeliers delivered a two-run double in the bottom of the first, tying the game early at two.
In the third, redshirt junior outfielder Richard Cunningham hit a solo shot to right field to lead off the inning. Freshman shortstop Nick Loftin added an RBI single in the fourth, junior outfielder T.J. Raguse hit an RBI double in the fifth and junior outfielder Cole Haring drove in the final run with a single in the seventh.
Baylor didn’t stay down for long, quickly regrouping to put together an impressive performance on Sunday.
Sophomore lefty Tyler Thomas (3-2) gave the Bears a strong effort on the mound, tossing five shutout innings, allowing two hits with four walks and a career-best seven strikeouts.
Rodriguez said that Thomas’ fearlessness was a huge factor in building his confidence on the mound.
“Being a freshman in a big, key game in a big series for us, being able to step for us like he did, and you can kind of tell after the first inning he started to feel really comfortable and really good,” Rodriguez said.
Junior Kyle Hill tossed 2 1/3, allowing two runs on two hits, both solo home runs. Seniors Drew Robertson and Troy Montemayor finished off the job. Robertson threw 2/3 of an inning while Montemayor pitched the ninth, allowing a solo shot to sophomore outfielder Carson McCusker.
Despite allowing three more home runs in the game and 10 over its last two games, Baylor led from start to finish, grabbing a -0 lead after one, 4-0 after four and 7-0 after seven.
In the first, it was sophomore first baseman Andy Thomas who put the Bears in front with a two-run single.
Raguse brought a run in on a groundout in the third. Loftin then added an RBI single for a 4-0 lead.
In the seventh, sophomore third baseman Davis Wendzel, who doubled to open the inning, scored on a wild pitch. Haring later homered to right-center to put the Bears in front 7-0.
Oklahoma State got all three of their runs in the final two frames, as Kroon and Simpson went back-to-back with one out in the eighth and McCusker went deep with two outs in the ninth.
Baylor (30-18, 11-10) finishes the season 19-7 at Baylor Ballpark and will now hit the road to Morgantown, W. Va. to take on West Virginia for the final series of the regular season. Game one begins at 5:30 p.m. Thursday with game two at 5:30 p.m. Friday and the finale at 12 p.m. Saturday.