By DJ Ramirez | Sports Editor
Riding the wave of a series victory over then-No.5 Texas Tech on the road this weekend, Baylor baseball continued to dominate with a 14-0 run-rule win over Prairie View A&M Tuesday at Baylor Ballpark.
“We are carrying a lot of confidence with us. Going up to Texas Tech, playing in front of sell-out crowds, beating a top-five team two out of three, obviously is going to get you a lot of confidence, and it rolled over really well today,” head coach Steve Rodriguez said.
True freshman Cam Caley picked up his first win on the mound, allowing just two runs, a walk, hitting a batter, and striking out three over two innings of work to start the muggy afternoon.
Second-year freshman righty Hambleton Oliver took over for Caley to pitch a scoreless, hitless third inning. The Corpus Christi native has been a consistent piece of Baylor’s bullpen in a bridge role for the Bears.
“The biggest thing is Hamilton is very consistent, and that’s one of the great things about him,” Rodriguez said. “He’s a great bridge guy right now. Eventually, he will hopefully develop into a later inning guy, but right now he’s the guy that when you’re in trouble, he’s going to come in and throw strikes.”
The Bears’ offense brought the hot bats back from Lubbock, slashing 14 runs across on 14 hits and taking advantage of six walks, 10 wild pitches and a hit-by-pitch. Baylor put up a four spot in the bottom of the first, followed by a three-run second to take a 7-0 lead early. A six-run fourth launched the Bears well beyond reach and a final run in the sixth iced the win.
The young offense had big contributions from transfer shortstop Jack Pineda (3-for-5, four runs, two RBI), second-year freshman designated hitter Cade Currington (2-for-3, three runs, two RBI), second-year freshman left fielder Kyle Nevin (3-for-4, one run, two RBI) and freshman right fielder Alex Gonzales (2-for-4, one run, two RBI). Oliver said it’s awesome to have run support in midweek games like these.
“[We] always have a lot of trust in our guys to hit the ball and score some runs,” Oliver said. “It’s pretty easy when you got those guys in your lineup and makes the job easier to go out there and pound the zone.”
The early lead allowed for Rodriguez to give some of the younger arms playing opportunities. In his first collegiate outing, true freshman righty Adam Muirhead threw a scoreless fifth, allowing just one hit and striking out two. DBU transfer freshman Chandler Freeman threw a scoreless, hitless sixth inning, starting and closing the inning with strikeouts, and a groundout to first in between. Freshman righty Andy Owen closed the night in the seventh with two strikeouts and a walk.
“Adam Muirhead was really good for us,” Rodriguez said. “Watching him go out there and compete, I can’t wait to see what some of the numbers were on him. Obviously it’s his first outing, and I thought he handled himself well… Andy Owen came in — we’re kind of working on a few things with him, trying to refine some stuff, but I was really happy with what we saw.”
The Bears will take a break from play during finals week but will be back to host Kansas State in Big 12 play from May 7-9, followed by a midweek against Incarnate Word on May 11. Baylor will play its last conference road series in Stillwater, Okla., against Oklahoma State from May 14-16 before wrapping up the regular season against Oklahoma May 21-22. The Big 12 Tournament is set for the end of the month on May 26-30 in Oklahoma City.
“It’s a double-edged sword right now,” Rodriguez said. “Now we get about 10 days off, and, you know, we got a great rhythm, great timing — our guys are feeling really good, and then we got to hit a pause button. The big thing right now for us is to try and stay in shape. We’re going to lift, we’re going to relax, we’re going to get our bodies recovered and then after that, we’re going to inter-squad a little bit and get ready for Kansas State.”