By Michael Haag | Sports Writer
Baylor baseball fumbled its season-high five-game win streak in an 11-6 defeat to No. 24 Dallas Baptist University Tuesday evening at Horner Ballpark in Dallas. The Bears rallied back down seven, but a four-run seventh inning silenced the comeback effort.
Baylor (16-11, 2-4 Big 12) struggled to slow down DBU’s (17-10) hitting, but showed resilience in the team’s effort to cut an early deficit to one run.
“We got within a swing of getting really back in that ball game and causing some chaos toward the end of the game to where they’re having to get their closer up and that’s a good sign,” head coach Steve Rodriguez said. “But our guys just kept pounding at the ball. They did a really good job pretty much the whole game.”
A bright spot on the mound came from sophomore right-handed pitcher Brett Garcia who came in and threw 3.2 innings of perfect relief. He was a big part in Baylor’s comeback attempt and Rodriguez trusted him on the hill.
“He just did a great job for us,” Rodriguez said. “We gave up a big third inning and he came in and did a great job of holding them down for several endings, and that allowed our offense to kind of get going, which was great. We got within a run and then we just couldn’t hold it.”
Offensively, sophomore outfielder Jared McKenzie cashed in on his opportunities, tying a career-high with four RBIs to go with two doubles. Overall, the Bears had some timely plate appearances where guys came up with some crucial hits.
“They did a great job just not forcing at-bats. They kind of took what they were given, which is a sign of really good discipline,” Rodriguez said. “They did a really good job of just finding good pitches to hit and getting on base and then let[ting] the next guy come up and do the same thing.”
To kick things off, DBU scratched one in the bottom of the second and busted things open in the third inning. It was a nightmare for Baylor, as the Patriots thumped two home runs to take a 7-0 lead.
The Bears answered in the fifth off the bat of McKenzie who crushed a three-run double into right field. Baylor slapped on one more in the next side to cut the deficit 7-4.
The Bears plated two more in the seventh, one off a sacrifice fly from McKenzie and another from junior outfielder Kyle Nevin’s single up the middle. DBU retook momentum as four crossed home plate in the bottom side to see an 11-6 lead.
Baylor loaded the bases in the ninth, but it was to no avail as the Pats stranded the threat to send the Bears packing.
Outside of Garcia, the bullpen struggled mightily in this one, something Rodriguez and his staff have been trying to fine tune.
“We just have to maximize our bullpen right now,” Rodriguez said. “We have to figure out who’s going to be the key guy to be able to go out there and shut guys down without walking guys. We need to eliminate the free bases, the free 90s. At some point that needs to be rectified and they understand that, they know that I know they’re not trying to do that, but that’s really what’s kind of hurting them. They give up free 90s and next thing you know we’re kind of scrambling to get out, so they just have to get better, and we’re going to continue coaching them until they do.”
Baylor continues its road slate in Morgantown, W. Va., for a weekend set against West Virginia University, starting at 5:30 p.m. Friday at Monongalia County Ballpark. The triple header against the Mountaineers (16-10, 2-1 Big 12) continues at 3 p.m. on Saturday and wraps up after a contest at noon on Sunday. All three games can be watched on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.