By Foster Nicholas | Sports Writer
The green and gold will head into finals week on a strong note. Baylor baseball broke a five-game losing streak after hitting three home runs to take down Texas A&M University–Corpus Christi, 12-6, Wednesday at Baylor Ballpark.
“The win definitely gives me some motivation going into finals,” sophomore catcher Cortlan Castle quipped. “Now I’m motivated to study tomorrow, not that I wasn’t before, but it’s nice to go into it with a win.”
Head coach Mitch Thompson and the Bears (16-30, 6-15 Big 12) produced an offensive onslaught, as seven Baylor players recorded multi-hit games. Led by junior outfielder Hunter Simmons (3-4), junior infielder Cole Posey (3-4) and sophomore infielder Hunter Teplanszky (3-5), the green and gold recorded a season-high 18 hits.
“Just play it simple and pass the torch; I think it’s what happened tonight,” Simmons said. “We’re having fun, balls are leaving the yard, guys [are] hitting and making plays, pitchers were just throwing strikes. That’s what Baylor Bears baseball should look like.”
Junior right-handed pitcher Jared Matheson got the start for the midweek bout. Matheson had one of his best games of the year on the mound, as he recorded career highs in innings pitched (4 1/3) and total pitches (85), while matching his career high in strikeouts (five).
Through his four innings pitched, Matheson didn’t walk a single batter but allowed six hits and three runs, only one of them earned. Baylor’s bats had his back from the jump.
“We swung the bats well, had a bunch of guys with multiple hits, a lot of extra-base hits,” Thompson said. “So it was a really good night offensively for us. And I think our pitchers came out and competed pretty well too. I think Matheson settled down after the first inning and threw well.”
In the first inning, Teplanszky, freshman infielder Kolby Branch and Simmons hit three-consecutive singles and plated a run. In the second, junior right-handed pitcher and outfielder Cole Tremain, freshman outfielder Caleb Bergman and Posey all hit singles, and another run scored.
The green and gold kept the scoring going by notching a crooked number in the bottom of the third. Simmons singled and freshman catcher Walker Polk, who played in the designated hitter spot Wednesday, reached base on an error to create the threat. With one out in the inning, Castle tagged a two-run triple off the left-center field wall. He came in to score later in the inning when redshirt-freshman infielder Jack Johnson hit an RBI single.
The Bears led 5-1 heading into the bottom of the fourth inning, but the offense wasn’t done adding insurance. Posey led off the inning with a single, and Teplanszky followed it up with a two-run home run, his fifth of the year, which went over the right field fence and into the Brazos River.
Matheson then allowed a pair of unearned runs in the top of the fifth and was replaced by junior right-handed pitcher Anderson Needham. Needham stayed in the game until the eighth inning, where he delivered almost three scoreless innings, allowing only two hits while striking out four. The unscathed relief was the team-leading 13th scoreless outing of the year for Needham.
Corpus Christi (20-24, 8-7 SLC) kept Baylor off the board in the bottom of the fifth, but the sixth inning was a whole different story.
Already leading 7-3, the green and gold kept rolling. Posey led off the inning with a 400-foot solo homerun to left center. Teplanszky and Branch added back-to-back singles right after. Branch stole second and advanced to third while Teplanszky scored on a throwing error, and with one out in the inning, Castle came through again, this time with an RBI double down the left field line.
“I’ve been working real hard lately on just trying to find what approach works for me and the past few games [I’ve been] feeling good,” Castle said.
Just one batter later, Tremain corked a 410-foot two-run homer to left center field and extended the lead to 12-3.
After a scoreless seventh inning, Thompson turned to junior right-handed reliever Adam Muirhead in the eighth. He shut down the side in order but struggled after recording two outs in the ninth.
The Bears allowed three unearned runs, and Muirhead was replaced after going almost two full innings, giving up a hit, a walk and a hit by pitch. Sophomore right-handed pitcher Gabe Craig stopped the bleeding and struck out the only batter he faced to secure the 12-6 win.
Needham (1-1) was awarded the win as Baylor pitchers combined for ten or more strikeouts for the 20th time this season.
“You’re seeing some guys continue to develop, and that’s the fun part of this,” Thompson said.
The Bears get some time off for finals and will stick around for another midweek tilt against Grand Canyon University. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Baylor Ballpark.