Baylor BSB cracks into win column, beating HBU

Sophomore infielder Tre Richardson led Baylor baseball to their first win of the year with the team's first home run of the season against Houston Baptist on Feb. 22 at Baylor Ballpark. Photo courtesy of Baylor Athletics

By Michael Haag | Sports Writer

Baylor baseball notched its first win of the season with a 6-2 victory over Houston Baptist University Tuesday evening at Baylor Ballpark. The bats were hot amid the cold weather, as the Bears recorded nine hits, six players getting at least one.

Offensively, sophomore infielder Tre Richardson led the way with a two-hit, two-RBI performance, giving him back-to-back games with those numbers. Richardson recorded a two-run home run and a double to carry the momentum over from the last outing. Even with the stand-out performance, he believes his ceiling is higher.

“I still think there’s a lot of room for improvement,” Richardson said. “There’s a lot of time for adjustments and I think after the last game Sunday I just felt good with the way the game went and the way my approach was [and] just building off of that. It’s a confidence booster for sure.”

The Bears (1-3) and Huskies (0-4) dealt with high-winds and cold weather throughout the game and were forced to adapt to the circumstances. Head coach Steve Rodriguez was glad to get the first win of the season and was proud of how the guys reacted to the tough conditions.

“I think it’s always good to get the first one,” Rodriguez said. “Learning how to win is a really important thing. And like I told our guys, today is a hard win because the conditions are not traditional baseball weather. You have 20 mph winds blowing straight in, every flyball is an absolute interesting play, and our guys did a really good job of understanding the situation that we were in.”

Junior infielder Jack Pineda was also thrilled to get the first win, and used what Rodriguez preached to the team to gain experience from the last four games.

“Coach Rod always preaches how hard it is to win and how easy it is to lose,” Pineda said. “And I think that we experienced that this weekend. It’s good to come out and especially early, it’s good to win when you don’t play your best. I think that there’s still a lot of things we can improve on. But that first one is just a huge sigh of relief.”

On the mound, sophomore left-handed pitcher Kobe Andrade (1-0) notched his first career start and attained the win. Baylor utilized the services of five other pitchers, holding HBU to six hits and two runs.

Baylor got off to another quick start, as an RBI single through the left side of the field from sophomore infielder/outfielder Kyle Nevin in the bottom of the first plated sophomore outfielder Jared McKenzie to give Baylor the early edge. One inning later, Pineda crushed a triple out to the right field wall, and was brought home off a fly ball from Nevin, his second RBI of the night. Nevin finished the night two-of-two with two RBIs when at bat. Pineda posted two hits on three at bats with a triple, also scoring three runs.

Pineda found his rhythm in the box today, and said finding himself with God helped allow the sudden spark.

“After the game on Sunday, I went to church at night, and I swear it was like God told me something I was doing wrong in my swing,” Pineda said. “I drove straight from church right here [to the ballpark]. I think if God tells you something, you better listen to it. It felt really good to get that one off and it really sparked everything.”

In the bottom of the fifth, Richardson blasted a two-run homer over the left field wall just a couple yards inside the foul pole. The HR is the first for Richardson on the season and the first from a Bear this year. Richardson was happy to get the HR for himself, not being a power-hitter, but was more glad to help out his team when they needed him.

“It felt good. I was more so happy just because I bumped the lead up to a four to nothing and that was awesome,” Richardson said. “But I mean, just getting it out the way, I’ve never been a home run hitter and I’m not a home run hitter. I just try to go up there and have good at-bats and put a good swing on for my team and try to get on base any way I can.”

HBU responded with two runs in the top of the seventh inning to cut its deficit in half. Baylor escaped a bases loaded threat to close the side with the 4-2 advantage.

The last offensive push for the Bears came when Pineda, Richardson and Nevin all reached base. Junior infielder Antonio Valdez was walked which brought Pineda home, and Richardson was plated off a single from redshirt junior first baseman Chase Wehsener.

Baylor now prepares for its home series against No. 23 Duke University, the first game set for 3 p.m. on Friday at Baylor Ballpark. Saturday’s contest is also scheduled for 3 p.m. and Sunday’s is at 1 p.m. to close the series. All contests can be watched on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.

The Bears will look to defend the Ballpark against the Bluedevils (3-1) and play their style of baseball. Rodriguez said the matchup on paper doesn’t matter, and that this team can beat anyone as long as they execute the right way.

“For us, our opponent is irrelevant,” Rodriguez said. “If we play well, we have a chance to beat anybody. If we don’t play well, anybody has a chance to beat us. And I’m really happy with how we’re playing right now. We got better today, we played better today, and so that’s a good sign for us.”