Redshirt sophomore first baseman Chase Wehsener took metal to leather on a 2-0 fastball to blast a 397-foot home run over the left-center field wall and open the scoring Friday night at Baylor Ballpark, but ultimately Baylor baseball fell 7-3 to Oral Roberts in the series opener.
After Wehsener’s bomb in the second inning, the Bears managed to bring in runs in the fifth and eighth but nine walks and six defensive errors were Baylor’s undoing as the Golden Eagles capitalized to bring in seven runs on eight hits.
Head coach Steve Rodriguez said the team was “on their heels defensively,” during the night and that led to the players having to overcome more challenges on offense.
“The biggest thing is [to] understand what your role is,” Rodriguez said. “Understand what your job is. Don’t worry about anyone else’s job and just focus on yours and when everybody can do that in their own individual part it’s amazing how simple the game can be but when certain things kind of get away from guys and they start to press a little bit, they try to overcome or do more just to try and make up for something they’ve just done earlier, it just starts to snowball. As a player I’ve done it, so I completely understand it.”
However, the four Baylor pitchers to take the mound Friday combined for 14 strikeouts on the night. Senior lefty Paul Dickens started the day with two scoreless innings, walking ORU second baseman Ryan Cash and following it up by fanning right fielder Caleb Denny. Cash was then caught stealing with a 1-3-6 putout and designated hitter Blake Hall flew out to center to end the inning.
Oral Roberts responded to Wehsener’s homer by plating two runs in the third. Cash singled up the middle and then advanced to second on a fielding error by Bears third baseman Esteban Cardoza-Oquendo, which also allowed Hall to reach first. Both Golden Eagles moved up a base on a wild pitch and then came in to score on a single to center by Golden Eagles shortstop Adam Oviedo. Senior catcher Andy Thomas ended the inning by throwing out Oviedo as he attempted to steal second.
Redshirt junior Daniel Caruso relieved Dickens in the fourth inning to get the Bears out of a bases-loaded, two-out jam. Dickens finished the day with 3.2 innings pitched, allowing two hits and two runs, walking seven and striking out seven. Caruso closed out the fourth with a ground out to second but Baylor left Thomas stranded in the bottom of the inning after a two-out single by the senior backstop.
Another error from third allowed Hall to reach base and a fly out to right by ORU left fielder Jordan Wiley moved him to second. Caruso added two more swinging strikeouts to bring the Baylor back out to tie the game in the bottom of the fifth. Cardoza-Oquendo walked on four pitches and then came around to score on a two-out line drive to center field by sophomore second baseman Ricky Martinez.
However, the Golden Eagles broke away with four runs in the sixth taking advantage of three more defensive errors by Baylor. Caruso grabbed the first out of the inning with a ground out before senior lefty Ryan Leckich came out of the pen.
Oral Roberts added another run in the seventh on a triple by center fielder Hunter Swift and the Bears brought in another run in the eighth when Thomas hit a sacrifice fly to center to bring in Martinez, who had walked.
Freshman righty Hambleton Oliver took over for Leckich in the eighth and closed out the ninth with two strikeouts but Baylor wasn’t able to get a rally going.
The Bears will get the opportunity to flush the loss and even the series at 2 p.m. Saturday at Baylor Ballpark. The game will be broadcast on Big 12 Now through ESPN+.