By DJ Ramirez | Sports Writer
Coming off a sweep to open up conference play, Baylor baseball took game one of a two-game midweek matchup with a 13-3 win over Texas Southern on Tuesday at Baylor Ballpark.
Sophomore right fielder Davion Downey and sophomore shortstop Nick Loftin led the Bears at the plate. Downey was 2-for-3 with four RBIs, two runs and two hits on the night. Downey said his goal at the plate was to focus on hitting left center and to do what he could if the infielders shifted in.
“I saw mostly off-speed today,” Downey said. “My approach was mainly just to stay in the left center gap.”
Loftin went 2-for-4 with two runs, two hits and two RBIs as well as his fifth stolen base of the season. The sophomore infielder is perfect in stolen base attempts so far this year.
Redshirt sophomore Daniel Caruso made his eleventh appearance out of the bullpen, throwing four scoreless innings. The California native allowed only two hits, walked one and recorded a season best of four strikeouts.
Head coach Steve Rodriguez said he was happy with how Caruso executed his performance on the mound.
“He did a really good job executing and coming in and throwing strikes. He trusted his defense and let them make plays behind him,” Rodriguez said.
Freshman right-hander Anderson Needham started for Baylor, throwing two innings. The first year delivered a walk to TSU shortstop Nic Garza to lead off the game. Garza was caught stealing second on a throw by junior backstop Shea Langeliers to Loftin and Needham struck out the next two batters.
Junior designated hitter Andy Thomas put the Bears on the board with his ninth double of the season to drive in junior third baseman Davis Wendzel who delivered a two-out single down the middle to get on base in the bottom of the first.
But TSU responded with a bases clearing double after Needham loaded them up on walks in the second inning.
Caruso took over the mound in the third for a 1-2-3 inning which included a double play by the Bears.
In consistent Baylor baseball fashion, the Bears tied the game with an RBI double by Downey in the third and returned in the fourth to post five runs and retake the lead.
Senior second baseman Josh Bissonette led off with a single and scored on an RBI single by Loftin. Senior center fielder Richard Cunningham drove one into center for another single and advanced to second on the throw by the center fielder. Karma came for the Tigers as Wendzel was walked to load the bases and another walk to Langeliers scored Loftin.
Downey and his hot bat then blasted a bases clearing two-out triple off the left field wall to put Baylor on top. The Kentucky sophomore said every hit counts no matter how many outs are on the board.
“I think every hit is like really important,” Downey said. “Whether there’s two outs or two strikes on you got to battle, and just figure out how to win the battle to get on base.”
Sophomore righty William Gilbert took over for Caruso in the seventh. Gilbert started the inning off with two strikeouts and followed with two walks but was able to get Tigers catcher Christian Sanchez to groundout on a hard-hit ball to Bissonette.
The beanball streak continued for Downey as he was hit by a pitch for the 11th time this season and then advanced to second on a failed pickoff by TSU reliever A.J. Winger. Senior left fielder Cole Haring then singled on a nicely executed bunt to put runners on the corners and bring up Bissonette who grounded out to score Downey. Haring advanced to third on a balk and scored on an RBI single by Loftin to put the Bears up by seven runs heading into the eighth.
Freshman two-way player Brooks Helmer came out in relief for the eighth inning to deliver two strikeouts and a fly out for a 1-2-3 inning.
Tigers reliever Holden Lane walked four straight to begin the bottom of the eighth giving the Bears another run. A sac fly off the bat of Bissonette and a single to left by freshman first baseman Chase Wehsener added two more and per the run rule, the game ended without a ninth inning.
Baylor will end their home stand Wednesday night with game two against Texas Southern at 6:35 p.m. and will then make their first conference road trip to face the Kansas Jayhawks this weekend.