By DJ Ramirez | Sports Editor
Baylor baseball avoided the sweep Sunday behind another stellar outing from fifth-year senior Hayden Kettler and a six-run seventh inning for a 11-2 win over No. 10 Texas. The victory was the Bears first conference win since 2019 and wrapped up a 13-game homestand in which Baylor only dropped two games.
“Ever win is important,” head coach Steve Rodriguez said. “You want to make sure you take advantage of those opportunities to win. And whenever you can stave off a situation about getting swept, and coming out and beating them up like we did today, 11-2, I think that’s always a good sign for us.”
Kettler tied his season-high in innings pitched with seven frames, allowing two runs (one earned) on four hits and striking out six of the 24 batters he faced. The senior kept Texas off the board for four innings while starting every at-bat with a first-pitch strike. Kettler said it’s important to take a winning mindset into ever game, even the rubber match.
“Whatever day I’m pitching, I take the same mindset into the game,” Kettler said. “To go out there on Sunday, a lot of times it’s been a long weekend, it’s kind of hard to get yourself and the team up and ready to go. But I’ve been here for five years, I know how important every game is. I think it pays off well to have a guy, like myself, who’s been around for a while and can kind of bring some energy and get guys to lock in and realize that we still got to show up and we still got to win this game.”
It’s getting easy to expect senior catcher Andy Thomas to come through at the plate. The fifth-year backstop put up three hits on Sunday, scoring each time, and went 8-for-15 against the Longhorns over the weekend.
Junior third baseman Esteban Cardoza-Oquendo went 2-for-3 with two runs and an RBI and second-year freshman outfielder Kyle Nevin added two hits, both RBI and a run scored.
“I thought our guys did a really good job forcing contact, putting the ball in play when we got two strikes,” Rodriguez said. “Overall they just did a really good job.”
The Bears got off to a quick start with two runs in the first inning. Second-year freshman Cade Currington set the tone offensively with a single to right field to drive in Thomas and transfer second baseman Jack Pineda. Thomas kept Baylor’s offense rolling with a single in the third inning, advancing to second on a wild pitch. Currington was then walked and both runners advanced to the next base on another wild pitch. Nevin scored Thomas on sacrifice fly to make it a 3-0 lead.
The Bears loaded the bases in the fourth inning, chasing off UT starter Kolby Kubichek, who earned the loss after 3.1 innings giving up five runs on five hits with four walks and three wild pitches. Tanner Witt was sent in to relive Kubichek. Baylor shortstop Tre Richardson reached first on an error, which also allowed Cardoza-Oquendo and freshman center fielder Jared McKenzie to score.
The Longhorns finally broke through with runs in the fifth and sixth but Baylor responded with a massive seventh inning. Thomas once again pulled through with a single to put runners on the corners after a walk to Richardson. Currington walked and the bases were loaded once more. Richardson scored thanks to a single by Nevin. Thomas then scored on a sacrifice fly by right fielder Davion Downey.
Cardoza-Oquendo doubled to drive in second-year freshman Nolan Rodriguez, who pinch ran for Currington. Redshirt sophomore first baseman Chase Wehsener followed with a double of his own to drive in Nevin and Cardoza-Oquendo, and capped off the scoring on an RBI single by Richardson.
Senior righty Logan Freeman relieved Kettler in the eighth, throwing a scoreless frame, allowing just one hit and one walk while putting up a strikeout. Senior closer Luke Boyd came out to put the icing on the cake, fanning back-to-back hitters to finish up the win for the Bears.
Baylor will hit the road this week, taking on UT Arlington at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday before continuing conference play with a series against TCU next weekend in Fort Worth.