Baseball makes first true road trip to California

Senior righty Hayden Kettler throws a pitch during Baylor’s 7-2 win over Nebraska on Feb. 16 at Baylor Ballpark. The Bears are 8-4 so far this season. DJ Ramirez | Sports Editor

By DJ Ramirez | Sports Editor

The 8-4 Baylor baseball team hits the road for the second straight weekend in its first true road test of the season, taking on Cal Poly in a three-game series. The Mustangs made the trip to Waco last year, falling to the Bears in two of three games at Baylor Ballpark.

Baylor will be looking to erase a 12-2 midweek loss to Texas State, which the Bears suffered coming off a sweep of the Shriners College Classic in Houston. Senior Sunday starter Hayden Kettler, who had a clean and effective outing against No. 13 Arkansas in the tournament, said the team expects Cal Poly to bring its best.

“They had a very good opening weekend, but that’s what we expect,” Kettler said. “I think every team we play we need to expect them to be the best team in the country… Cal Poly is a very respected program. They played us well here in Waco last year so I’m looking forward to going up there and getting a rematch.”

The Mustangs are coming off a solid performance in the MLB4 Tournament in Scottsdale, Ariz., in which they shut out Connecticut 5-0, fell 8-5 to No. 8 Michigan and took a dramatic 9-8 walk-off win over No. 1- ranked reigning national champion Vanderbilt. Cal Poly, however, has lost eight of its last 10 games, including six of eight at home.

The Mustangs starting rotation has been strong, holding a combined ERA of 2.79, but their bullpen has been a little shaky, tallying up a combined 5.08 ERA. The team from the Big West conference returned 10 of 11 position players and eight returning pitchers. Offensively, the Mustangs are led by catcher Myles Emmerson, who’s hitting .320 and has five RBI so far, and first baseman Tate Samuelson who leads the team with nine RBI.

“The reason I like playing them is simple: they have really good pitching, they’re going to be very well-coached, it’ going to be a different kind of baseball than we play out here,” head coach Steve Rodriguez said. “They’re going to be prepared for us, so we’ve just got to make sure we’re the same.”

The Bears open the series against Cal Poly at 8 p.m. tonight in San Luis Obispo, Calif. All games will be broadcast on and on ESPN 1660 AM radio.