By DJ Ramirez | Sports Editor
Baylor baseball continues to be tormented by Texas A&M as the Bears were unable to avenge their 2019 Shriner’s Classic loss, falling 12-4 to the Aggies Friday night at Dell Diamond for their opening game of the Round Rock Classic.
The Bears were thwarted by their own defensive miscues as four errors and seven walks helped the Aggies in their offensive onslaught. Head coach Steve Rodriguez said the team will look to brush up on their fundamentals to fix those miscues.
“We didn’t do a lot of the fundamental things,” Rodriguez said. “You know, a ball going under a glove in the outfield, missing a ball at second base, a lack of communication with the pitcher and catcher — both of them are going hard. And that’s the thing, they’re going as hard as they can, hopefully just not to an over extent to where they’re losing the fundamental feel for things. It’s just going to take time. They’re all trying to do the hardest they can and the best they can now that they’re playing baseball again.”
Starting pitcher, third-year sophomore righty Blake Helton took another loss, allowing four runs on five hits (two of them earned) and two walks, but striking out a career-high six batters.
Offensively, Baylor was led by second-year freshman designated hitter Cade Currington and JUCO transfer second baseman Jack Pineda who combined to go 4-for-7 and three of Baylor’s four runs. The fourth run came off the bat of redshirt sophomore catcher Kyle Harper, who entered the game as a pinch hitter in the bottom of the eighth to blast a massive home run over left field in his first at bat of the season.
After giving up a lead-off single against his first batter of the night, Helton fanned the next three batters to put up half of his strikeouts for the night. But things turned sour in the second when Helton walked Aggies center fielder Logan Britt and gave up a two-run blast over left to catcher Mikey Hoehner.
A&M threatened in the third inning after a defensive miscue in the middle infield put runners on the corners for the Aggies. Helton walked designated hitter Logan Sartori to load the bases but then dug in and got the next two outs, striking out third baseman Zane Schimdt and getting Britt out at first on a 3-1 groundout.
Despite grinding out a scoreless third and starting the fourth with his sixth strikeout, Helton allowed two more baserunners in the inning and was relieved by second-year freshman Hambleton Oliver. The Aggies added to their lead thanks to an error and a single before Oliver struck out the next two batters to get out of the inning.
The Bears finally got on the board in the bottom of the fourth after being held scoreless through three by A&M’s Dustin Saenz. Pineda laced a two-out double to left field. Third-baseman Esteban Cardoza-Oquendo, who returned to the plate after a hit-by-pitch call was overturned, drove Pineda in with a single to center.
The Aggies’ bats didn’t cool down, however, as A&M built up an eight-run lead with five runs in the top of the fifth. Britt singled, and Hoehner walked, and the two managed to score on a single by A&M second baseman Bryce Blaum and an error by Bears center fielder Jared McKenzie. Blaum scored on a single by right fielder Brett Minnich after which first baseman Will Frizzell demolished a two-run bomb over right field.
Baylor plated two more runs in the fifth and sixth when second-year freshman shortstop Tre Richardson drove in Currington in the fifth and Currington singled in the sixth to bring in Pineda.
True freshman righty Grant Golomb relieved Oliver in the top of the sixth, holding the Aggies scoreless for two innings.
Harper’s home run in the eighth wasn’t enough to spark a rally for the Bears, and A&M added two more runs in the eighth and another one in the top of the ninth for insurance.
“I think A&M has a really good team,” Rodriguez said. “But the truth is we made just too many mistakes on defense and on the mound. Offensively, we swung the bats pretty well in certain moments, and if we can continue to hit the ball like that, we’re going to be pretty successful.”
Baylor will be back on the field to face No. 17 Auburn at noon in Round Rock.