BAYLOR BASEBALL UPDATE: No. 20 Bears bounce back with big win over Houston Baptist after three-game skid, improve to 14-7 overall
By Denton Ramsey, NCAA Sportswriter/Big 12 Fans Baylor Correspondent
WACO, Texas – After a trio of games saw the Baylor baseball team scratch across just two runs while dropping all three games against Big 12 rival Missouri, the No. 20 Bears bounced back against Houston Baptist University on Tuesday night, March 25 in Waco.
Baylor (14-7) reestablished their offensive groove against HBU on Tuesday evening at their home ballpark, knocking in run after run en route to a 12-4 victory while the Bears’ Tim Matthews picked up his first win of the season after relieving BU starter Craig Fritsch after 3.1 innings of play.
“I wanted to split the game up between [Tim Matthews] and Craig [Fritsch],” Baylor Head Coach Steve Smith said. “I wanted to give Craig an opportunity to start a game and to get his feet wet like that, but I’ve seen him better.
“He wasn’t as good tonight as what we’ve seen. That experience and that extended look out there will help him. Tim has a lot of experience and has done everything. He did a good job.”
After Smith’s duo of pitchers handled the first seven innings of work, the Bears handed the ball to Baylor’s bullpen beast, Nick Cassavechia – who pitched two innings of one-hit baseball after BU’s weekend collapse against the Tigers.
“He [Cassavechia] looked a lot better,” Smith said. “His stuff was better, his velocity was better, and he was sharper. That’s a good feeling for him. All of this stuff is just about confidence, and you can’t do anything without it.
“Some of the things that have gone against him and some of the bad games he’s had, obviously they’ve taken a toll on him mentally. From a hitter’s perspective, the whole weekend took a toll on us, so tonight was a good opportunity to get well in terms of confidence.”
Leading the offensive charge for the Bears was a trio of talent, as Beamer Weems, Adam Hornung and Aaron Miller picked up three hits apiece.
“It [bouncing back with a win] was definitely big,” sophomore Baylor outfielder Weems said. “We take nothing away from the Missouri staff because they threw us really well, and that’s a place where you don’t want to go when you’re not on your A-game.
“After the weekend we had, to come out here and jump out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning, you could see it in the dugout that everybody’s shoulders dropped a little bit, and everybody relaxed and started having more fun.”
The more fun the Bears had, the more their lead extended over HBU – as Miller posted back-to-back homers after going 0-for-12 prior to Tuesday’s match-up in Waco.
“I just let them come to me,” Weems said. “The whole problem I’ve had has been pitch selection. In the last couple of weekend I haven’t been swinging the bat too well, and I’d been going out of the zone and trying to make something happen instead of just letting it happen. I told myself today that I was just going to make them throw strikes before I started swinging, and I got a few I could handle.”
Count Coach Smith as one to echo his star outfielder’s comments – as the BU skipper was the first to let the media know that Weems would probably be sleeping a bit better in the nights to come.
“He squared the ball up pretty well,” Smith said. “He’s just got some pop, and when he gets the ball up in the air like he does, it can blow out of the park on a night like tonight. It was good to see him swing the bat better after the weekend he had. He’ll sleep a little better tonight.”
Baylor junior first baseman Hornung also had a major impact in the Bears 12-run outburst against HBU – helping to break BU’s three-game skid.
“It was definitely a big improvement from the weekend; it was good to see us start driving some balls again and putting up runs,” Hornung said. “In the first inning we put up four runs, so it was good to see that early.
“At Missouri we had the chance to score early twice and we didn’t, so it’s good to see us get on the board and keep getting on the board. It definitely helped us relax a little more once we put up four in the first, and then we scored in every inning except for two, so it was good to see.”
Matthews, who pitched 3.2 innings of two-hit, no-run baseball, picked up his first win of the season on Tuesday night against HBU – improving his overall ERA to 1.62.
“Lately I’ve just been attacking guys with fastballs,” Matthews said. “That’s pretty much my thing, throwing the sinker and just going right after guys without trying to be too fine. It’s been working out.”
Working out is exactly right, and despite an evening with high winds, the senior pitcher accomplished the task at hand – successfully taking the mound and attacking the HBU batters.
“I’m pretty much a groundball pitcher, and throwing a two-seamer down in the zone is usually pretty good on a night like this,” Matthews said. “Keeping the ball out of the air is always good, and usually I do a pretty good job of keeping the ball out of the air. Nights like this don’t worry me too much, but if you do get it up, it’s one of those nights that can be dangerous. If you just try to keep it down and induce groundballs, it usually works out.”
Fortunately, skipper Smith and his young and talented BU baseball team have bounced back after dropping a trio of games in Missouri – and even with extensive winds blowing out of Baylor Ballpark Tuesday night, the Bears picked up a much-needed W.
“This would’ve been a tough night had we come out here and had the wind blowing in our faces after this weekend,” Smith said. “The hitters needed a night that at the least didn’t work against them, and this one definitely worked for them. We had some guys that took some good at bats, and we made some good contact.”
The Bears return to the diamond on Wednesday, March 26 in a one-game match-up with Texas A&M-Corpus Christi at Baylor Ballpark at 4 p.m. CT before opening a three-game series at Oklahoma on Friday, March 28 at 6 p.m. CT.
Denton Ramsey may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org