Baseball gets four-game sweep to open the season

Story by DJ Ramirez | Sports Writer, Video by Elisabeth Tharp | Broadcast Sports Director and Sarah Gill | Broadcast Reporter

Baylor baseball wrapped up its opening weekend with a four-game sweep of the College of the Holy Cross.

After kicking off the season with a 12-0 shutout of the Crusaders on Friday night, the Bears had come back wins on Saturday to take both games of the doubleheader by scores of 8-5. They finished up the series with a 6-1 win on Sunday to start the season off with a 4-0 record.

With low temperatures and the wind blowing into the field, the weekend did not present what would be classified as “ideal baseball weather.” Head coach Steve Rodriguez said he was proud of how the team came out and battled despite the tough conditions.

“Our guys really battled through a lot of difficulty that had nothing to do with baseball but some of the elements and being able to come out on top of four games is really good,” Rodriguez said.

Baylor fell into a 4-0 deficit early in game one of the doubleheader but managed to cut the Crusader’s lead in half in the sixth inning when senior left fielder Cole Haring singled on a bunt, advancing senior second baseman Josh Bissonnette to second and sophomore designated hitter Ryan Bertelsman to third. A throwing error by the pitcher allowed Bertelsman to score and advanced Bissonnette to third. Senior center fielder Richie Cunningham then scored Bissonnette with a sacrifice fly to right field.

The Bears tied it at four in the seventh inning with RBI singles by Haring and Bissonnette.

Baylor fell behind by a run in the tenth inning on a sacrifice fly by Crusaders second baseman Alex Gionis to score his third baseman but Bertelsman would walk it off for the Bears with a three-run home run just inside the left field foul pole.

In game two, the Bears once again allowed Holy Cross to take a lead in the top of the third but answered with two runs in the bottom of that inning to tie the game.

Bertelsman hit a sacrifice fly to center field in the bottom of the fifth to bring in junior third baseman Davis Wendzel after Holy Cross scored two in the top of that inning.

Baylor tied it again in the sixth with sacrifice hits by sophomore shortstop Nick Loftin and Wendzel and then took the lead in the seventh off a two-run RBI triple by Cunningham and an RBI single by Wendzel.

After fighting for the series win on Saturday, the Bears returned on Sunday for the sweep.

Freshman pitcher Anderson Needham had the start, making his collegiate debut. Needham threw four scoreless innings, struck out six of the 20 batters he faced, allowed only one run with two hits and walked four. Rodriguez said that Needham has a chance to be really good on the mound.

“We’ve seen it since we recruited him. His ball is something pretty special,” Rodriguez said. “He throws it and it doesn’t really go straight off and that for a catcher is really tough but for hitters it’s really difficult, and so we just know that if he can control that strike zone a little bit better, he’s going to be something special to watch in the future.”

Baylor put up a two-run lead in the fourth with RBIs from Haring and Bissonnette.

The only run from Holy Cross came in the fifth when Needham walked in a run. Junior pitcher Ryan Leckich then came in to take over for Needham and get the Bears out of the jam.

Baylor added to their lead in the bottom of the seventh with an RBI from Wendzel to score Loftin. Downey, hitting in the cleanup spot as Langeliers was given the day off after catching three straight games on the weekend, sent one over the right field fence for a two-run homer. Downey said he was surprised he hit it out especially with the wind blowing into the field.

“The whole approach today for me was just trying to hit balls hard on the ground or just line drives in the gap and then I don’t know I just pulled that one out and it happened,” Downey said.

The last run of the game came in the bottom of the eighth when Cunningham hit a groundout RBI to score Bissonnette who had advanced to third on a double by freshman catcher Kyle Harper. The line-drive down the left field line by Harper was the first hit of his collegiate career.

The Bears will head down to San Marcos on Tuesday to face Texas State on their first road game of the season and then return to play against Cornell University at 6:35 p.m. on Friday.