By DJ Ramirez | Sports Writer
Baylor baseball completed the series sweep of Cornell with a 12-4 win on Sunday after kicking off the weekend with a 17-run shutout of the Big Red on Friday and a 10-3 victory on Saturday.
The Bears are now 7-0 on the season after an opening weekend sweep of Holy Cross and a cancelled game on Tuesday against Texas State due to inclement weather.
Baylor pitching continued to be dominant over the weekend, beginning with another stellar start from junior right-hand pitcher Hayden Kettler who pitched six innings on Friday with nine strikeouts and allowed only three hits. Redshirt sophomore Jimmy Winston and freshman righties Blake Helton and Ryan Segner took over for Kettler in the last three innings to continue the shutout with only one hit allowed by Winston.
Kettler said that the biggest key to victory so far this season has been having command of his pitching and staying ahead of hitters.
“It’s awesome to know that you have four pitches to go to, I mean obviously when you have more weapons it keeps the hitter off balance, it keeps them guessing,” Kettler said. “But I mean really, like I said, it all starts with the fastball command, being able to get ahead, so I think that’s been the biggest key these first two weeks.”
After a scoreless first and second innings, Baylor opened their onslaught of the Big Red with a solo home run from senior second baseman Josh Bissonette. The Bears would go on the score five more runs that inning on an RBI single from sophomore right fielder Davion Downey and two-run RBI doubles hit by sophomore designated hitter Ryan Bertelsman and freshman first baseman Chase Wehsener.
Baylor added two more runs in the bottom of the fourth with a two-run homer off the bat of senior left fielder Cole Haring that snuck over the wall just inside the foul pole.
Sophomore shortstop Nick Loftin got in on the action in the fifth sliding into third for a two-run RBI triple after Big Red left fielder Jason Apostle missed the catch. Loftin would then score on a single to center field from junior third baseman Davis Wendzel.
The Bears’ offense stayed hot in the sixth with RBIs from Wehsener, Bissonette and freshman backstop Kyle Harper. Wehsener drove in two more in the seventh with a single. Junior pinch hitter Mack Mueller then iced the win with a solo shot in the eighth inning.
Head coach Steve Rodriguez said that even though the Bears got ahead early on, continuing to perform well as the game goes on is just as important.
“You don’t want to waste anything. You don’t want to waste at-bats, you don’t want to waste pitching opportunities, because all of those are statistics for you and it kind of shows what kind of person you are,” Rodriguez said. “If you’re going to start throwing things away when the score gets out of control sometimes, whether it’s you’re up or you’re down. And so, for me it’s a character check. If you can’t maintain that intensity for yourself and for the team, then you probably shouldn’t be out here.”
Saturday saw strong bullpen outings from junior lefty Paul Dickens, junior righty Luke Boyd and sophomore righty Daniel Caruso. Dickens took over the mound from sophomore starter Tyler Thomas, who struck out five but also allowed three runs and walked five in his 3.1 innings of work. Dickens allowed two hits and walked only one batter as well as striking out three to record three scoreless innings. Boyd had a 1-2-3 eighth striking out the side and Caruso came in the ninth to complete back-to-back shutout innings of Cornell.
The Bears posted 10 runs on 13 hits Saturday to take the series with Loftin and Harper striking two RBIs each.
Junior lefty Cody Bradford took the mound to start the game on Sunday but only pitched two innings as he continues to be limited due to shoulder soreness. Winston once again saw action in the third inning allowing only one hit. Freshman pitcher Anderson Needham made his second outing of the season taking over in the fourth allowing two runs but striking out six. Junior reliever Ryan Leckich got the Bears out of a jam in the top of the eighth and was followed by senior closer Kyle Hill who recorded his second save of the year with two strikeouts and a flyout in the ninth.
Cornell was the first to get on the board with a two-run home run from Big Red senior catcher Will Simoneit but the Bears responded with a two-RBI double off the bat of Downey in the bottom of the first and then took the lead with a two-run homer from Harper, the first of his collegiate career. Wendzel followed with an RBI double.
Not to be left out of the action, Haring blasted his second home run of the season, also his second of the series, adding three more runs for Baylor. After coming out of the second leading 9-2, the Bears added runs in the fourth, fifth and eighth staying ahead as the Big Red attempted to rally.
Rodriguez said he was really happy with what he saw form his team this weekend, especially the small things the Bears have been working on.
“Thought we handled the bat a lot better [Sunday] than we did [Saturday]. I thought we’d been really good on the bases, reading ball in dirt, getting steal jumps, some delayed steals incorporated in their as well,” Rodriguez said. “Really happy with some of our guys coming off the bench and doing some different things. Our bullpen doing a good job this weekend coming in and minimizing some kind of hairy situations, so I was really happy with what we saw.”
Baylor will host Dallas Baptist University for a midweek game at 6:35 p.m. on Tuesday before heading to Houston next weekend to compete in the 2019 Shriners Hospital for Children Classic.