By Michael Haag | Sports Writer
Baylor baseball was swept by the University of Maryland, losing the third and final game of the series 8-3 Sunday afternoon at Baylor Ballpark. UMD recorded four home runs off the Bears’ five pitchers, both sets of HR’s coming from senior infielder Maxwell Cortes and sophomore infielder Matt Shaw, each with two apiece.
The Bears (0-3) started off stronger today compared to the first two contests, but ultimately couldn’t keep the Terrapins (3-0) from running away with it. This is the first time the Bears have started 0-3 since 2013.
Head coach Steve Rodriguez knows there are things to work on, especially on the defensive side of things as Baylor had four costly errors.
“We definitely have things to improve on,” Rodriguez said. “I think the frustrating part was to be honest, we did not play well on the defensive part of it. We lost a couple balls in the sun, which was frustrating [and] we threw a couple of balls away.”
Rodriguez liked to see the bats get going a little bit, and said it was a good outing offensively but the defense cost them in the end.
“I thought we did a really good job maintaining some good at bats today,” Rodriguez said. “The pitchers I thought did an okay job in regards to keeping us in the ballgame. But I think that mistakes on defense kind of cost us today.”
In the box, sophomore infielder Tre Richardson recorded two hits with two RBI’s after struggling Friday and Saturday. Richardson thought it was more about getting back to what he knows best, rather than making adjustments.
“I think a lot of it was just going back to what I know, going back to the basics and just going up there having good at bats,” Richardson said. “Today it worked out. Yesterday I feel like I missed a few baseballs. But I feel like my bats got better and better after each at-bat over the weekend. And then today they just finally started falling.”
Making his debut in the green and the gold, senior graduate transfer and starting right-handed pitcher Jake Jackson set the tone early, but ultimately allowed three earned runs on five hits. Jackson ended the game with seven punch outs in five innings pitched and said he wished he could have some pitches back that resulted in scores.
“I thought it went well, obviously, would love to have a couple of those pitches back that I made mistakes on,” Jackson said. “But, I competed [and] tried to give my team the best opportunity to win the game.”
Early on, things looked to be trending upwards for Baylor, as for the first time in the series, Baylor didn’t allow a run in the first inning, Jackson able to hold them scoreless through one.
The Bears were the ones to strike first thanks in part to some early hitting from the top of the order. A wild pitch brought Richardson home from third and put Baylor up 1-0.
The Terps took that punch and wasted no time to level the score, as Cortes skied a HR over the left field fence into Betty Lou Mays Field. The Terps were able to plate another run to break the tie before Baylor escaped the side of the inning.
The Bears responded in the bottom of the third with the help of a leadoff double to left-center, perfectly in the gap from senior infielder Esteban Cardoza-O’Que. He was plated off back-to-back groundouts from Richardson and junior infielder Jack Pineda, tying the game at two runs apiece.
In the top of the fifth, another error from Baylor allowed UMD to find a run off a sacrifice pop-fly to left field. Shortly after, Shaw cracked a solo-shot dead center to extend the Terps’ lead to 4-2.
The Bears chipped away in the bottom of the fifth, as Richardson plated Cardoza-O’Que off an RBI single down the left side to cut the UMD lead to one.
Over the next three innings, the Terps scored four unanswered runs to take an 8-3 lead, and a final effort in the bottom of the ninth from the Bears to cut the deficit to four was all they could muster.
Richardson said the sweep isn’t a testament to who was the better team, saying Baylor is better and that the squad has a high ceiling this season.
“I have no doubt that we’re the better team,” Richardson said. “I think we’re a really good team and we just didn’t play the best of our ability, but I mean, it’s early and if we’re gonna lose, we’re going to have to lose right now. Because once we get hot and once you start rolling, there’s no saying where we can take ourselves.”
Even with the sweep, Jackson and the group knows they will learn from the losses and it will make them tougher.
“It’s adversity,” Jackson said. “Nobody likes to lose, but I think losing makes you tougher. You learn a lot about yourself in the moment when you lose and obviously we’re gonna come together a lot more and just find a way to win and grind it out throughout the rest of the season.”
Baylor will participate in the fourth of their seven game homestand against Houston Baptist University, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday at Baylor Ballpark. The Bears are hoping to move past the sweep and the early season jitters against the Huskies (0-3).
“[It’s] been a really good weekend [in] regards to getting that nervous energy and that excitement out of the way,” Rodriguez said. “So now hopefully, they can kind of get back to business.”