By Michael Haag | Sports Writer
Baylor baseball started its five-game road stand with a 9-0 win against Rice University Wednesday night in Houston at Reckling Park. The Bears executed a two-hit shutout in their midweek clash before starting the 2022 Shriners Children’s College Classic this weekend.
Baylor (4-4) out-hit the Owls (2-6) 13-to-2 and used a five spot in the fifth inning to run away with the victory. The Bears used six different pitchers in the shutout effort, posting seven combined strikeouts and seven walks as a unit.
Sophomore left-handed pitcher Kobe Andrade (2-0) picked up the win on the mound in 2.1 innings, allowing zero runs and hits, with one hit-by-pitch.
Head coach Steve Rodriguez was happy to see the bats cracking, something the group has been focusing on the last few weeks.
“The biggest thing was we just forced contact and put the ball in play,” Rodriguez said. “Our execution was pretty good tonight and we’ve kind of been harping on that the past couple weekends. When you get to two strikes, at that point you’re really just competing for the team to put the ball in play and make good things happen, and we were able to do that tonight.”
The offensive onslaught began in the fifth inning, sparked by a pair of runs off more Owl errors. A 3-0 lead wasn’t enough for sophomore outfielder Kyle Nevin, who left the yard with a two-run shot, his first homer of the season and second of his career and for the Bears this season. The last punch came from sophomore outfielder Alex Gonzales, who doubled to bring Valdez home.
Valdez wasn’t done, as in the seventh he notched his second hit to propel Nevin home, extending the lead 7-0.
In the eighth, the Bears’ last bit of offense came from a couple runs off a few wild pitches. The 13 hits for Baylor on the day was a season-high, and five pitchers combined for 7.1 innings of hitless relief.
The Bears will stick around in Houston for a three-day slate this weekend as part of the Shriners Classic. Baylor opens play against No. 23 University of California, Los Angeles at 11 a.m. Friday at Minute Maid Park. Saturday and Sunday feature contests against No. 17 the University of Tennessee and No. 7 Louisiana State University, all matches on the weekend versus a ranked opponent for the Bears. All contests can be watched on AT&T SportsNet, the final game can be listened on SiriusXM 375.
Rodriguez was delighted for the team to come to Houston and get a road win before the Shriners Classic.
“It’s huge. Any time you can go on the road and win is always a great thing,” Rodriguez said. “Being able to come down here, before we head into Minute Maid [for the Shriners Children’s College Classic] against some really good teams is always good, especially when we have an opportunity to play really well.”