Baseball welcomes K-State for final home series

Baylor senior Cole Haring gets ready for a swing against Sam Houston State on April 16 at Baylor Ballpark. Shae Koharski | Multimedia Journalist

By DJ Ramirez | Sports Writer

No. 15 Baylor baseball is back on top of the Big 12 and controlling its own destiny after a sweep of the TCU Horned Frogs in Fort Worth last weekend. The Bears are gearing up to host Kansas State in the last home series of conference play.

Even though their 12-5 conference record, 30-12 overall, has them in position to take the regular season title and possibly a host spot for the NCAA regional, senior closer Kyle Hill said Baylor is just going to focus on winning this weekend.

“Everyone is thinking about. We’re thinking about it, can’t deny that, but you can’t get too far ahead,” Hill said. “You have to take it one game at a time. We got to focus on beating Kansas State right now.”

The Bears are coming off a sweep of TCU, making it back-to-back sweeps of the Horned Frogs as Baylor got the sweep in the 2018 season. It was also the first time that the two rivals faced each other since the Big 12 Tournament in which the Bears walked it off to take the title. The last time Baylor had a conference sweep away was in Manhattan, Kan. last year against K-State where they opened the weekend with an 18-0 shutout and outscored the Wildcats 42-8 over the series.

K-State might prove more of a challenge for the Bears this time as they have won seven of their last 10 games and have had at least one home run in each of their last 13 games. Sophomore outfielder Zach Kokoska leads the Wildcats offense with a batting average of .331, a slugging percentage of .532 and an on-base percentage of .406. Junior utility player Cameron Thompson also poses an offenses threat. Currently riding a 10-game hitting streak in which he’s had five home runs, including two in back-to-back games against Oklahoma, Thompson holds a .370 average and ties for K-State’s team lead with 55 hits.

Head coach Steve Rodriguez said his biggest concern was Wildcats head coach Pete Hughes and what he’s done for K-State.

“He does a really good job. He gets his team to play hard. They play well. They’re fundamental. They don’t make a lot of mistakes. They have a really good pitching staff. If you look at their numbers they’re really good,” Rodriguez said. “They have enough power threats in their to be concerning as well. So the biggest thing is we have to make sure we don’t make issues for ourselves with a lot of walks, a lot of errors. We just need to make sure we do the simple things, play the three facets the best we can.”

Baylor will celebrate Senior Day on Sunday where Hill, along with senior outfielders Cole Haring, T.J. Raguse and Richard Cunningham and senior infielders Josh Bissonette and Cole Weaver will be honored before the series finale for their time and contribution to the Baylor program. Hill said he isn’t sure how to feel about possibly playing his last home college baseball game but that the Bears are focusing on coming out of the weekend with a win.

“The fact that this could be my last time playing at Baylor Ballpark is kind of, I don’t know, I’ve got mixed emotions about it. It gives me a bigger edge to keep winning and play here again, but at the end of the day, like I said, we’re just focused on Kansas State and winning one game at a time,” Hill said.