Baylor baseball hopes to clean up mistakes against No. 23 Duke

After coming off of a win against Houston Baptist, Baylor baseball looks to its next opponent No. 23 Duke. Photo courtesy of Baylor Athletics

By Michael Haag

It always feels good to get the first win of the season, especially coming off an opening series sweep to the University of Maryland. Baylor baseball has its sights set on building momentum from its mid-week clash against Houston Baptist University, as the team look toward its series against No. 23 Duke University.

“I think that [in] Tuesday’s game, just getting that first win, that’s huge, seeing that zero in the win column tick to one,” Redshirt junior first baseman Chase Wehsener said. “It’s a lot like hitting — you get one, sometimes more come. That’s what we’re going with and trying to build every single day off those little victories that we can get and finding things to improve on, because there were things that we didn’t do well that we need to do better.”

Head coach Steve Rodriguez credits the top of the batting order for getting going in Tuesday’s 6-2 win, hoping they continue to stay hot against Duke this weekend.

“The top part of our order did a really good job making some great adjustments in Tuesday’s game,” Rodriguez said. “Hopefully they take that over into this weekend. We got a really good Duke team coming in — very talented pitchers, very good offense. We just have to make sure that our game plan is solid and they stick with that game plan.”

Leadoff hitter and junior infielder Jack Pineda said he takes pride in his role and loves to help put power hitters in position to score.

“I just kind of take a lot of pride in getting things going,” Pineda said. “Hopefully we can start getting on [base] in the first inning instead of the third. But, [I] definitely [want to] set the tone and I feel like just getting on base for guys like Tre [Richardson] and Jared [McKenzie] and [Kyle] Nev[in], I think the earlier we can score, the better our pitching settles in and that starts with me at the top of the lineup for sure.”

After the win against HBU, Rodriguez mentioned how their opponents are irrelevant because as long as the Bears play their style of game, they can beat anyone. Wehsener agreed, saying if the group can clean up the mistakes, they will be well off.

“At the end of the day, we have to play how we know we can play,” Wehsener said. “Obviously, you’re going to take into account what the other team’s trying to do but there were a lot of things this past weekend where we did beat ourselves. So we have to make sure we get those things cleaned up before we can look to the other side because we have to focus on ourselves first and get those things right.”

Pineda agreed about the team not playing to its potential, and said the squad is hoping to peak at the end of the season.

“This team is good enough to where if we play our game, there’s not a team that can beat us,” Pineda said. “It’s all about reaching our maximum capability. I think something that really good teams do is play their best baseball at the end of May and in June. So that’s definitely something that we’re striving for. It sucks to get swept, especially at home, but if we can keep building momentum, we’ll look back and laugh at this past weekend.”

Rodriguez and the team will aim to stay in the win column against Duke, the first game of the series lined up for 3 p.m. on Friday. Saturday and Sunday’s contests are set for 3 p.m. and 1 p.m., respectively. Each game will take place at Baylor Ballpark and can be viewed on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.

Rodriguez mentioned Duke’s strength on the mound and how solid they are as a whole. He said if the Bears can limit the errors and keep the bats hot, they will find themselves with victories.

“They have great pitching, they have for the past couple years now,” Rodriguez said. “Coach Pollard has done a great job with them. I just know they play the game very solid so we just have to make sure we minimize mistakes and hopefully capitalize on some of theirs.”