Nevin’s historic day fuels series-salvaging win for Baylor baseball

Sophomore infielder Kyle Nevin finished a career-high 5-for-5 at the plate with three doubles and four RBIs to pus the Bears over Texas Tech Sunday at Baylor Ballpark. Photo courtesy of Baylor Athletics.

By Michael Haag | Sports Writer

On the verge of being swept by No. 9 Texas Tech University after a 7-1 loss Friday night followed by a 11-1 loss Saturday, Baylor baseball found early success, holding a 3-1 lead through the first inning of Sunday’s matchup at Baylor Ballpark. Seeking more separation, sophomore infielder Kyle Nevin gave the Bears the spark they needed with a bases-clearing double to left center.

Nevin finished a career-high 5-for-5 at the plate with another career-best three doubles, also tying a program record in a Big 12 game and tying a career-high of four RBIs.

“Just trying to get something going for the team,” Nevin said. “Trying to provide a spark at the top and I got to come up in some big spots and get the job done.”

Nevin’s outing paired with some crucial mound work got the job done for Baylor, as they salvaged the series 11-7 against TTU. Junior right-handed pitcher Blake Helton took his first start at home after battling injury, and dished out two innings of solid work.

“I felt good,” Helton said. “I had a little bit of nerves which I hadn’t had in a really long time [that] I didn’t get last year or this year so far. It kind of felt like being a freshman again back out there.”

Senior lefty Matt Voelker (4-5) earned the win, hurling five innings of big-time relief, as he punched out five guys and only allowed four runs in that span.

The Bears (22-22, 5-13 Big 12) scored all 11 of their runs across the first four innings and held off the Red Raiders (31-16, 11-7 Big 12) in the dwindling frames.

“Matt Voelker came up huge today,” head coach Steve Rodriguez said. “Him coming out and doing what he did – we needed it, we needed it. Being able to go through that line up which was pretty impressive … I mean, he gave up some runs and that was fine, but he eliminated big huge innings and that really helped us and allowed the offense to continue to get out there.”

TTU struck first with a solo homer to center field, but Baylor broke loose with 11 runs through the first four innings, only allowing two Red Raider hits in that span, both being solo shots.

Helton’s day was done through two, turning things over to Voelker who started dealing. With injuries to the bullpen, Nevin and the group couldn’t have brought Helton back at a better time.

“It’s always good to see Blake back on the mound,” Nevin said. “I know he got hurt early on in the season, which was tough to see him go down but having him come back, you know he’s going to provide good innings for us all the time. It’s good to have him back.”

TTU trimmed back with a two-run blast in the fifth, but Voelker silenced the remaining threat. The Red Raiders scratched one more in the sixth after a trio of two out hits, putting the tally at 11-5.

The meat of TTU’s order came around in the eighth for an attempted comeback, but sophomore right-handed hurler Adam Muirhead limited the damage to two runs, the last two of the game, clinching the 11-7 win for Baylor.

“It’s huge to not get swept,” Helton said. “Getting swept really hurts so good teams sweep and don’t get swept.”

Baylor stays put for a non-conference match against Tarleton State University, with first pitch set for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Baylor Ballpark. The broadcast can be streamed via Big 12 Now on ESPN+ or listened to on ESPN Central Texas 1660 AM.

Moving forward, Rodriguez hopes his younger guys in the bullpen can learn from this weekend and was glad to see his older guys showcase their ability on Sunday.

“Today we had some older guys go out there which was great. You can kind of see the difference and that’s what we talked about,” Rodriguez said. “The older guys, there’s a resiliency to them, they know what they’re good at and they can make adjustments on the fly. Young guys are still trying to be able to control their emotions and try to feel their fingers on their pitching.”