Scorching bats from Baylor baseball throttles UTA 15-9

Junior first baseman Chase Wehsener bumps fists with assistant coach Mike Taylor after a win against UT Arlington on March 29 at the Baylor Ballpark. Photo courtesy of Baylor Athletics

By Michael Haag | Sports Writer

The scorching bats carried over from Norman, Okla., as Baylor baseball dismantled the University of Texas at Arlington 15-9 Tuesday evening at Baylor Ballpark. An eight spot in the second inning carried the way for the offensive onslaught in the midweek tilt which saw the squad’s third consecutive game with double-digit hits.

The Bears (13-11, 2-4 Big 12) posted 14 hits to partner with 16 RBIs and were never really threatened by the Mavericks (8-16, 2-4 Sun Belt Conference), who found little success in slowing down the attack. The contest marks 31 runs for Baylor over the last two outings.

“I knew the offense had this potential at the beginning,” head coach Steve Rodriguez said. “The biggest thing is we’re going to have quality at-bats. When you have quality at-bats during the game, you give yourself a chance for success. If you’re going to go up there and chase balls in the dirt [and] not execute, then the chances of winning start to go down. But just have good at-bats [and] be able to execute which we did a great job [of] today.”

The RBI machine of the night was redshirt junior first baseman Chase Wehsener, who posted four RBIs on 3-of-4 at the plate to go with a double. He received help from junior infielder Jack Pineda who had a booming three-run homer to co-align with a double.

Wehsener gave credit to the guys in front of him who made it on base in order for him to record the RBIs.

“Yeah, that’s always good, coming up with runners on base [to] get a chance to drive them in,” Wehsener said. “So all props to the people in front of me for getting on and the more we can do that the better, so I love it.”

The starter on the mound, sophomore right-handed pitcher Brett Garcia (1-0), attained the win after throwing two innings of scoreless baseball, only allowing one hit and a walk.

It didn’t take long for Baylor to take advantage, as they erupted in the second inning. Freshman first baseman Casen Neumann – batting in the designated hitter spot – started things off, drilling a two-run homer to right field. Freshman catcher Cortlan Castle wasted no time in his appearance, drilling the first pitch he saw for an RBI-single.

The Bears didn’t stop pouring it on, thanks to the three-run shot over the right center wall from Pineda. Sophomore outfielder Kyle Nevin figured he would join in on the fun, zipping one into the right center gap for an RBI double.

Pineda had a feeling his hit would carry the distance due to the high winds at the ballpark.

“I knew I had a chance just with the wind and everything,” Pineda said. “It’s funny – we’ve just been playing so many games where the wind’s blowing in so I think baseball kind of has that tendency for stuff to even out and so it felt good.”

The wind carried his hit over the right fielder who was looming short of the warning track, but once it was gone the elation from Pineda let out.

“I was like, ‘There’s no way it’s going to land right there,’” Pineda said. “I kind of kept watching … I was focused on making sure I didn’t pass the base runner at first and [I was] watching the ball. As soon as I kind of saw him turn his back, I got pretty happy.”

UTA applied some pressure in the third inning, but only mustered one run and stranded three runners. They found more success in the fourth with three runs off a pair of RBI hits to cut their deficit in half.

The Bears responded with six runs over two innings to hoist a 10-run cushion. The padded lead would be cut again with a threefold from UTA, but one run in the seventh from Baylor saw a 15-7 lead going into the eighth.

For Rodriguez, seeing the group continue to respond after giving up runs is thrilling, as it kills any momentum the opposition gains.

“Well the tough thing was, they get bases loaded, they get a hit or we luckily get a groundout or whatever it is … they had a lot of guys left on base,” Rodriguez said. “So luckily our pitchers were able to kind of stop that but having our guys go back out there when they score two or three [and] we would score two or three right back; That’s a really good sign so that way we kind of killed any momentum that they have.”

The Mavericks scored once more in the eighth, but stranded another bases-loaded threat. They collected one more run in the ninth, but the Bears were able to get the job done for a 15-9 victory.

Baylor stays put for a three-game swing against East Tennessee State University, the opening game set for 6:30 p.m. Friday at Baylor Ballpark. Game two is set for 3 p.m. Saturday, with the closing contest set for 1 p.m. Sunday. All games can be watched on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.

Wehsener and the group will look to continue doing the little things in order to ensure success against ETSU (17-5).

“We want to feel the ball, put the ball in play, get runners over, score runs and throw strikes,” Wehsener said. “That’s what we need to do and that’s what we’re going to try and do.”