By DJ Ramirez | Sports Writer
Baylor baseball faced former Big 12 foe Nebraska this weekend, falling 12-4 on Friday and 2-0 on Saturday, but bouncing back in a big way on Sunday to salvage the rubber match.
The Bears routed the Huskers 10-3 as they seemed to get some of their confidence back with junior All-American Shea Langeliers back in the lineup as designated hitter and junior infielder Andy Thomas starting at catcher.
Thomas, who had been filling in as DH for the past two weeks as he eased his way back from illness, went 3-for-5 with three RBIs and two doubles. Langeliers, who is coming off surgery on his left wrist after breaking his hamate bone in the season opening series, went 2-for-5 and scored a run on an RBI single by junior left fielder Mack Mueller.
Head coach Steve Rodriguez said that the biggest thing about having Thomas back from illness was getting his timing back.
“There’s nothing worse than trying to get your timing back in the middle of the season. So we kept trying to put him in there, just trying to sprinkle him in and get him behind the plate, and kind of work back in slowly,” Rodriguez said. “We knew it was going to come because he’s a big part of our offense like he was last year. It’s just a matter of him getting his timing, so hopefully today was a good breakout day for him.”
Mueller put Baylor on the board by scoring senior second baseman Josh Bissonette in the bottom of the second. Thomas followed with his first RBI double to score Mueller.
Nebraska responded with three runs in the top of the third, but history repeated itself in the bottom of the fourth as Thomas once again doubled to bring in Mueller and tie the game. Thomas said he went for the fastball and felt lucky it wasn’t caught.
“I saw a fastball to hit in the gap and was lucky their outfielder didn’t grab it because they were catching everything today,” Thomas said. “It felt good and I just kept hunting fastballs really.”
With the bullpen shutting down the Huskers, the Bears took advantage and added five runs in the fifth inning. Sophomore right fielder singled to right field to score senior center fielder Richie Cunningham and was followed by Bissonette who drove in junior third baseman Davis Wendzel. Mueller then brought in Langeliers and Thomas got his third RBI by grounding out to the second baseman and allowing Bissonette to get home.
Cunningham lined one down the right field line to bring in freshman first baseman Chase Wehsener in the seventh and Wendzel scored Cunnigham with a single to left.
Freshman pitcher Anderson Needham started the game with his only strikeout and then managed to hold Nebraska scoreless until the third. Redshirt sophomore Jimmy Winston took over in the third and posted three strikeouts, allowing only three hits. Redshirt sophomore Jacob Ashkinos and junior relievers Luke Boyd and Ryan Leckich each pitched hitless innings and were followed by senior closer Kyle Hill who ended the game with a strikeout, a popup to Wehsener and a fly out to Mueller.
Rodriguez said he thought the bullpen has done a great job of executing, especially after the tough time Baylor had against Nebraska in the first two games.
“Man, they were great yesterday and they were great today. They did a great job coming in and putting out fires and continuing what they do,” Rodriguez said. “The first couple of games were pretty frustrating. Those guys pitched great games, you have to tip your hat to them… The biggest takeaway is that you’ve got to flush away the day before and come back the next day ready to go. “
The Bears continue their home stand with a midweek game against Abilene Christian at 6:35 on Wednesday before facing Cal Poly next weekend.