Cole Posey flirts with cycle as Baylor baseball takes down UT Arlington 5-3

Senior first baseman Cole Posey (6) has mashed three home runs across his last two outings. Mesha Mittanasala | Photographer

By Foster Nicholas | Sports Writer

When senior first baseman Cole Posey roped a triple to left-center field in the bottom of the eighth inning, fans at Baylor Ballpark were on the edge of their seats in anticipation for his next at-bat.

Posey had singled and scored in the first inning before muscling a solo home run over the right-center field fence in the third inning, which put the veteran in striking range to record the first cycle by a Baylor baseball player since 2004.

But Posey closed out his unblemished day at the plate with another single — which kept him a double short of the cycle — and the Bears knocked off UT Arlington 5-3 on Tuesday night in Waco.

“It’s kind of one of those funny things with baseball, like if someone has a no-hitter, you don’t talk about not having a no-hitter,” Posey said of his near-cycle. “And it’s the same thing with a cycle, right?

“So I’m getting all these funny looks when I’m in the dugout after I hit the triple. Everybody kind of knows what’s going on.”

The first baseman’s last chance at securing the cycle came in the bottom of the seventh inning with a runner on second base and one out. Posey said he was locked in on getting a double.

“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t thinking about it a little bit,” Posey said. “I’m definitely thinking [about going] two out [of] the box.”

The Georgetown native rolled up his sleeves, strapped on his batting gloves and stood pat in the back of the right-handed batter’s box. Posey fell behind 1-2 in the count before hitting a ground ball right up the middle. The Mavericks’ (18-27, 12-9 WAC) shortstop stormed in front of the base to chase the ball before running out of room. Unfortunately for Posey, the second baseman stood right behind him.

But with a blocked viewpoint, the ball ricocheted off his glove and scooted into shallow center field. As Posey’s foot smacked first, he ran up the line, trying to beat out a potential throw before being ushered to find the ball and chase the cycle by first base coach Zach Dillon.

As Dillon pointed to second, Posey tripped on his own feet and had to catch himself from falling up the base path.

Baylor baseball has now won each of the last four meetings with UT Arlington. Mesha Mittanasala | Photographer
Baylor baseball has now won each of the last four meetings with UT Arlington. Mesha Mittanasala | Photographer

The stumble didn’t stop the second-year Bear from racing toward second base. But as Posey slid into second, his feet were met with a glove holding the baseball inside, and the senior had to settle for a career-best 4-for-4 day at the plate with a home run, a triple and two singles.

“I don’t know what he’s trying in the last [at-bat],” head coach Mitch Thompson said with a laugh. “I don’t think he understands that was not going to be a double. No, I thought he had a good night. He continues to swing the bat well.”

As Posey flirted with history, the rest of the team rallied behind him as Baylor (20-23, 9-12 Big 12) secured its seventh nonconference win out of its last eight outings outside of league play. Posey — who went 3-for-3 with a walk at West Virginia on Sunday — has now reached safely in eight consecutive at-bats, matching a team-best this season with redshirt junior right fielder Enzo Apodaca, who did the same earlier in the month across two games at BYU.

Freshman left-handed pitcher and outfielder RJ Ruais made his first start in the batting lineup as the designated hitter, and he recorded his first two collegiate hits, going 2-for-4 at the dish. On top of the strong outing at the plate, Ruias was tasked with getting one out on the mound as a reliever. The freshman threw just four pitches to the only batter he faced and recorded a strikeout, making Ruais the first Baylor player since Nick Loftin on March 17, 2019, to record a hit at the plate and strikeout on the mound in the same game.

“I’ve been waiting for this hit all year, so it’s super exciting to get out here,” Ruias said. “I honestly wasn’t expecting to pitch today too, but when [Thompson] said, ‘Hey, can you can you go down there and get the lefty for us?’ I was like, ‘Yeah, I’ll do that. I’m all over it.’”

Junior third baseman Hunter Teplanszky also recorded a multi-hit game, going 3-for-4 with three singles and one run batted in. Teplanszky notched his 100th career hit on Tuesday as well.

The Bears opened the scoring as Posey, senior second baseman Daniel Altman and Teplanszky recorded three straight hits on three consecutive pitches to take a 2-0 lead.

From there, the pitching did the leg work as Posey and the bats trickled on three more one-run frames in the third, sixth and seventh innings. Senior right-handed pitcher Jared Matheson didn’t allow a hit during his 3.0 innings to open the game. The righty did allow one run, however, as he walked two batters and hit three more.

Redshirt freshman right-handed pitcher Tanner Duke (1-2) earned his first collegiate win, going 2 2/3 innings while allowing just one run. He also hit two batters but limited the UT Arlington damage. Senior left-handed pitcher Kobe Andrade, redshirt junior right-handed pitcher Andrew Petrowski and redshirt junior right-handed pitcher Patrick Hail each worked 1.0 inning. The trio combined to allow just one run, credited to Andrade, and three hits and struck out three batters while Hail (1) earned his first save as a Bear.

“I was proud of the way the guys came and played today,” Thompson said. “We have to find [our control]. … [Matheson] wasn’t extremely sharp, but everybody else that went out there today was pretty good.”

Senior first baseman Cole Posey (6) extended his on-base streak to 14 games on Tuesday. Mesha Mittanasala | Photographer
Senior first baseman Cole Posey (6) extended his on-base streak to 14 games on Tuesday. Mesha Mittanasala | Photographer

The Bears will be back in Big 12 play at 6:30 p.m. on Friday as they open a three-game series against TCU (26-16, 10-14 Big 12). The second game is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Saturday, and the series finale is set for a 1 p.m. first pitch on Sunday at Baylor Ballpark.

“This next series, everybody’s ready for it,” Posey said. “And especially for me, being a lifelong Baylor Bear, any time we’re playing TCU in any sport, it always means a little bit more.

“The guys are ready for it. I’m ready for it. I think Baylor Ballpark’s going to be hopping a little bit, and I know they’re ready for it too.”