By Jerry Hill
Baylor Bear Foundation
Muffled through the first two games by the Houston Baptist pitchers, Baylor's bats woke up and made a lot of noise in Sunday afternoon's series finale at Baylor Ballpark.
"You knew it was going to happen at some point," said Baylor coach Steve Rodriguez, whose team had scored just three runs on 14 hits combined in the first two games. "That's the problem when you only face our pitchers all fall. You see the same pitchers over and over and over again, and not having to make quick adjustments. So, it took a couple games for our guys to make those adjustments."
Rodriguez said the Bears set the tone "from the first pitch on," when Richie Cunningham led off with a double and scored on Langeliers' line-drive home run off the left-field foul pole for an early 2-0 lead.
"I was hoping that the wind would give me a little push back to the right at it as going," said Langeliers, who went 2-for-5 with two RBI, "but thankfully it stayed fair."
Sophomore Hayden Kettler (1-0) was efficient through the first two innings, working around a leadoff walk in the second, before the Huskies capitalized on a one-out error in the third inning to score three unearned runs.
Freshman shortstop Nick Loftin booted a potential double-play grounder, opening the door for HBU's three-run explosion. It could have been even worse, but Wendzel threw out a runner at the plate on a fielder's choice grounder to third. Anthony Jones got the Huskies on the board with an RBI single to center, then cleanup hitter Jake Pulcheon drove in two with a double down the left-field line.
"I told him, 'That's going to happen. You're a freshman, this is your first start, the jitters are real. I know you'll get me back later in the game,''' said Kettler, who gave up no earned runs on three hits and three walks with a career-high five strikeouts in five innings. "As a guy coming back in my second year, I know things like that are going to happen. So, it's just my job to focus on what I'm doing, continue to press and try to get guys out."
HBU's lead didn't last long. After a leadoff walk by Wendzel, a Thomas single and Cole Haring's sacrifice bunt, T.J. Raguse delivered a two-run single up the middle and then scored on freshman Davion Downey's single through the right side.
Wendzel, who hit .667 (6-for-9) for the weekend, added a solo home run in the fourth to cap the scoring. Matching Thomas, he was 3-for-3 with two walks in Sunday's game.
"(The home run) definitely wasn't my best, but I had a feeling it was out," he said. "When I get high pitches like that, and I meet them up there . . . . I didn't get it well at all, but I had a good feeling it was going to go out."
Baylor wasted a couple other scoring chances in both the sixth and eighth innings, loading the bases with nobody out. But, in each case, the Nos. 5, 6 and 7 batters weren't able to get a run across.
"It's really being able to control your emotions, understanding what you're expecting out of them," Rodriguez said. "I think there's a strong desire to want to be the guy that does the job and does everything and be esxciting . . . . sometimes you can have a couple strikes to do it, but that third strike needs to be for the team. You've got to find a way to execute. That's part of it, being able to control your emotions."
Sophomore transfer Jacob Ashkinos made his Baylor debut, throwing three no-hit innings and facing the minimum nine batters despite a couple walks. Senior closer Troy Montemayor gave up a one-out single in the ninth, but he got the final two outs to record his second save of the weekend and 28th of his career.
The Bears finish off a four-game home stand with a matchup against 17th-ranked Dallas Baptist (3-0) at 4:35 p.m. Tuesday before a three-game series next weekend at No. 14 UCLA (3-0).
WACO, Texas - Baylor baseball posted a 6-3 win in the series rubber match against Houston Baptist on Sunday afternoon at Baylor Ballpark. The Bears (2-1) used a three-run third inning to take the season-opening series over the Huskies (1-2).
HBU answered in the third with three unearned runs on a walk, error, single and double. But the Bears countered in the bottom half to regain the lead. Davis Wendzel led off with a walk and Andy Thomas singled. After a Cole Haring sacrifice bunt moved the runners up, T.J. Raguse delivered a go-ahead, two-run single up the middle. Raguse advanced to second on the throw home and scored on a two-out single by Davion Downey for a 5-3 lead.
BU added to the lead with a solo homer by Wendzel in the fourth. Then the bullpen took over after starter Hayden Kettler was replaced in the sixth inning. Jacob Ashkinos tossed three scoreless, hitless innings to get to Troy Montemayor, who closed the door in the ninth.
Kettler (1-0) earned the win, allowing three unearned runs on three hits and three walks with five strikeouts in five innings. Montemayor notched his second save of the season with a scoreless ninth. HBU starter Daniel Endsley (0-1) took the loss, giving up six runs on eight hits and three walks with two strikeouts in 3.1 innings.
*Baylor has won three of its last four season-opening series and two straight.
*Baylor (two home runs) has 24 multi-home run games under Steve Rodriguez (nine in 2016, 14 in 2017, one in 2018).
*Baylor has hit 88 home runs in 113 games under Rodriguez. BU hit 51 in 2017 for its most homers since 2010 (57).
*Baylor has finished its home schedule with a .500 record or better (2-1 in 2018) in all 19 seasons at Baylor Ballpark (since 1999) and is 418-194 all-time at the park.
*Hayden Kettler posted career highs in innings pitched (5.0) and strikeouts (5).
*Sophomore JUCO transfer Jacob Ashkinos made his Baylor debut and tossed three scoreless innings while allowing just two walks with two strikeouts.
*Troy Montemayor gathered his 28th career save to pull within 10 of topping Baylor's career leader Zane Carlson (37, 2000-04). He converted his first eight career save attempts in 2016, and after blowing his ninth try, converted 12 straight before blowing his 22nd attempt. He has converted 19 of his last 20 save tries and eight straight. He is 27-for-29 in career save attempts.
*T.J. Raguse has the game-winning RBI in both of Baylor's wins this season.
*Davis Wendzel has a six-game on-base streak, dating back to last season. He led BU with three hits for the second straight game for his second multi-hit game of the season. He also hit his first homer of the season and ninth of his career. Additionally, he had a career-high two doubles.
*Shea Langeliers hit his first homer of the season and 11th of his career.
*Langeliers and Wendzel homered in the same game for the first time in their careers at Baylor.
*Andy Thomas tied a career high with three hits for his second multi-hit game of the season and had a career-high two walks.
*Freshman Davion Downey made his first career start and drove in his first run, while walking twice.
*Freshman Nick Loftin made his first career start and had a single in his first career at-bat.
STAT OF THE GAME
3 - The amount of baserunners allowed by Baylor's relievers Ashkinos and Montemayor in four innings of work.
QUOTE OF THE GAME
"I knew it was going to happen at some point [with the offense scoring more runs]. I think our bats are pretty good. I am really excited about the offense. That's the one downside of seeing our pitchers all fall, it doesn't force the guys to have to make the quick adjustments that you make in the game. I think it took our guys a little bit to be able to adjust from pitcher to pitcher and situation to situation. Today, it was all-around a great effort, from the first pitch we were ready. It really helped set the tone for the rest of the game." - Baylor Head Coach Steve Rodriguez
The Bears host No. 17 Dallas Baptist on Tuesday at 4:35 p.m. CT at Baylor Ballpark. For tickets to home games, visit: http://www.baylorbears.com/tickets/. For updates on the program follow @baylorbaseball on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.