By Jerry Hill
Baylor Bear Foundation
Hayden Kettler might not have matched Friday-night ace Cody Bradford's one-hit, complete-game shutout, but he did string together six more scoreless innings Saturday afternoon at Baylor Ballpark in a "phenomenal start."
Following up on Bradford's gem, Kettler (5-3) held TCU (19-16, 6-7) to five hits and two walks with two strikeouts in six innings as Baylor baseball (21-17, 5-9) clinched its first Big 12 series win in over a month by beating the Horned Frogs, 6-2.
"Going six innings, giving up no runs, I was really happy for him to be able to continue doing that for our pitching staff," said coach Steve Rodriguez, whose team has won five games in a row and seven of its last eight. "He's just done a phenomenal job allowing the offense to come through and get some runs for him, capitalize on some of their mistakes and at the same time kind of swinging the bats pretty well."
Like Friday night's 6-0 win, the Bears also got timely hitting and sparkling, error-free defense. TCU had a chance to take an early lead when Johnny Rizer had a one-out double in the second inning and moved to third on a groundout, but shortstop Nick Loftin caught Conner Shepherd's high line-drive shot to snuff out the threat.
"When your defense is able to not just make the routine plays but make a play to take away a hit, that just changes the game," Kettler said. "Our defense being able to step up this last month or so and really start to play well, I think that's huge for our team and one of the big reasons we're starting to be successful."
In the third, the Frogs loaded the bases with a pair of walks and a double by Josh Watson (4-for-4), who had half of his team's eight hits. But, Kettler worked out of the bases-loaded jam by retiring Michael Landestoy on a grounder to second.
A former college and pro baseball infielder, Rodriguez said defense is "something I've carried with me everywhere."
"Watching our guys be able to do that just makes it really easy for our pitchers to know that they can still make some mistakes. As long as the ball is hit, and we have a chance to get to it, we're going to get to it."
Baylor scored an unearned run in the bottom half of the third, when T.J. Raguse led off with a walk, moved to second on Loftin's sacrifice bunt and scored on second baseman Colby Boulware's throwing error off an infield single by Davis Wendzel.
The Bears broke it open with a crooked number in the fourth. After a leadoff homer by Shea Langeliers, his second in as many days and team-high ninth of the year, two more runs came across on doubles by Davion Downey and Josh Bissonette and a sac fly by Loftin.
Three walks and a wild pitch brought in another run in the fifth, then Bissonette scored on a Wendzel sacrifice fly in the sixth after reaching base on a fielding error by Shepherd at third base.
"(TCU pitchers) were kind of sporadic in the zone, and I thought our guys did a great job," Rodriguez said of his team drawing eight walks. "I still think we need to do a better job executing when we had bases loaded. But, TCU has a phenomenal pitching staff. They do a really good job in those situations. They've got guys that throw from all different arm angles with all sorts of velocity."
TCU scored two runs in the seventh off Kyle Hill, getting back-to-back doubles by Shepherd and Boulware and a run-scoring single through the right side by Watson. But, the bullpen retired seven of the last eight Horned Frog batters to nail down the win for Kettler.
"It's huge (to get the series win)," Kettler said. "You always want to win it in the first two, especially at home when you have a bunch of momentum. But, that's a great team, and they're right there, so we need to come out and play well (Sunday) and hopefully get a sweep."
Freshman lefty Tyler Thomas (1-2, 2.35 ERA) will be on the hill when the Bears go for the sweep with Sunday's 1:05 p.m. game, pitted against TCU sophomore right-hander Charles King (1-1, 3.00). The series finale will be televised live by Fox Sports Southwest Plus, with "Voice of the Bears" John Morris and former Baylor and major league pitcher Pat Combs calling the action.
WACO, Texas -- Baylor baseball earned a 6-2 win over TCU to secure the series on Saturday afternoon at Baylor Ballpark. The Bears (21-17, 5-9) used timely hitting and a solid start from Hayden Kettler to set up a sweep chance vs. the Horned Frogs (19-16, 6-7).
Both offenses got off to a slow start until the Bears broke through in the third. T.J. Raguse led off with a walk, and after a Nick Loftin sacrifice bunt, scored on an infield single with a throwing error off the bat of Davis Wendzel.
BU then kept the runs coming. In the fourth, Shea Langeliers led off with a solo home run, Davion Downey doubled, Josh Bissonette doubled in a run and Loftin hit a sac fly. In the fifth, Richard Cunningham led off with a walk and scored on a bases-loaded wild pitch. In the sixth, a sac fly by Wendzel scored Bissonette, who reached on an error.
Kettler (5-3) earned the win, giving up five hits and two walks with two strikeouts in six shutout innings. TCU starter Sean Wymer (2-3) took the loss, allowing four runs (three earned) on six hits and a walk with two strikeouts in 3.2 innings.
*Baylor has topped TCU in two out of three series under third-year head coach Steve Rodriguez.
*Baylor has won seven of its last eight games.
*Baylor is 5-4 in three-game series this season (1-3 on road, 4-1 at home) and has a combined record of 12-12.
*Baylor has finished its home schedule with a .500 record or better (15-5 in 2018) in all 19 seasons at Baylor Ballpark (since 1999) and is 431-198 all-time at the park.
*Baylor has hit 116 home runs in 148 games under Rodriguez. BU hit 51 in 2017 for its most homers since 2010 (57). BU has 31 in 2018.
*Hayden Kettler increased his career-high win total to five as he posted his fifth start this season of five or more innings with three runs allowed or less and two or more strikeouts.
*Davis Wendzel has reached base in a career-high 27 straight games, marking Baylor's longest since a 35-game streak in 2013 by Lawton Langford. He also has a seven-game hitting streak.
*Drew Robertson has tied a career-long streak with nine straight scoreless appearances.
*Andy Thomas has a nine-game on-base streak.
*T.J. Raguse has a nine-game on-base streak.
*Nick Loftin has reached base in eight straight games.
*Richard Cunningham has a seven-game hitting streak.
*Josh Bissonette has a three-game hitting streak.
*Davion Downey has reached base in four straight games and has a three-game hitting streak.
*Shea Langeliers has reached base in three straight games as he hit his ninth home run of the season and 19th of his career. He homered in back-to-back game for the first time in his career.
QUOTE OF THE GAME
"I was really happy on a lot of different aspects. I thought we played really good defense. Hayden Kettler, with a phenomenal start for us, going six innings, giving up no runs. Really happy for him to continue to do that for our pitching staff, and he has just done a phenomenal job of allowing the offense to come through and get some runs for him." -- Baylor Head Coach Steve Rodriguez
The Bears finish their series vs. TCU with a 1:05 p.m. CT game Sunday. For tickets to home games, visit: http://www.baylorbears.com/tickets/. For updates on the program follow @baylorbaseball on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.