Baylor baseball aims to climb standings with Big 12 series at No. 21 West Virginia

Baylor baseball is coming off a 9-3 midweek victory over Sam Houston on Tuesday night at Baylor Ballpark. Six Bears pitchers combined to strike out 12 Bearkats. Kassidy Tsikitas | Photo Editor

By Foster Nicholas | Sports Writer

Having won 11 of its last 14 games, Baylor baseball is looking to stabilize its position in the Big 12 standings. The Bears’ next opportunity to do that comes when they clash with No. 21 West Virginia for a three-games series, which will start at 5:30 p.m. on Friday at Monongalia County Ballpark in Morgantown, W.Va.

Baylor (19-20, 9-9 Big 12) currently sits tied for sixth in the Big 12 standings with four other teams, and it now sees the opportunity to gain ground against the third-place Mountaineers (23-16, 11-7 Big 12). Over the Bears’ recent streak, they tallied the first Big 12 series sweep since 2019 after knocking off BYU in three consecutive games in Provo, Utah.

“We learned that we’re a team that can win on the road,” junior outfielder Ty Johnson said of the recent slate. “It’s obviously been a huge challenge for us this year, but I think going into BYU and being able to sweep [a series] on the road really gives us confidence.”

Head coach Mitch Thompson has seen his team score eight or more runs in 10 of the last 14 games, and his squad has struck out 10 or more batters in nine of the last 15 games. With four Big 12 series left on the docket, Thompson said he’s proud the team has something to play for despite a rocky start to the season.

“The last several weeks, we’ve just been building to get us into a position where we can play the last month of the year and have something to play for — and we definitely do,” Thompson said. “The league is really, really tight. The parity is incredible. Anybody can beat anybody, and the whole key is if you go play well, you win. If you don’t, you lose.”

During conference play, the Bears are sixth in batting average (.272) while recording the second fewest strikeouts at the plate (137). Meanwhile, on the mound, Baylor has held teams to a .261 average, which is the fifth lowest in the conference.

“We’ve learned that we can hang with anybody,” redshirt junior right-handed pitcher Patrick Hail said. “Our bats have really shown their true identity, and it makes it a lot easier for us on the mound. You know they can explode for 18 [runs] on any given day, and that just makes your life easier.”

Junior right-handed pitcher Mason Marriott is due to start on Friday, while redshirt freshman right-handed pitcher Collin McKinney is scheduled to start on Saturday. Thompson hinted at changes to the rotation on Sunday following the Kansas series, but he’s listing the series finale as TBD.

In addition, West Virginia’s lineup poses unique changes that could alter how the Bears attack the series, according to Thompson.

“[They have] lots of left-handed hitters,” Thompson said. “They’re kind of a matchup problem for a lot of clubs, and maybe a matchup problem for us too if we don’t execute. It’s my first trip to Morgantown, so I’m looking forward to it.”

Game one is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, while Saturday and Sunday’s games will have first pitch at 3 p.m. and 10 a.m., respectively.