By Jerry Hill
Baylor Bear Foundation
Cody Bradford has a message to the rest of his Baylor baseball teammates, "Don't mess with the streak."
"Whatever you eat for dinner before the game, keep eating it," he said. "And however long you're brushing your teeth, keep brushing it for that length of time. We're just trying to ride it out and keep playing Baylor baseball."
The Bears (29-17, 10-9) kept the ride going Friday night, using another sterling outing from Bradford (6-4) and a career-best five-hit night by Richard Cunningham to blast 20th-ranked Oklahoma State, 13-5, and win their national-best 13th game in a row.
Cunningham, who went 5-for-5 and finished a triple shy of the cycle, said "it's contagious. When you're hitting like that and everyone just feeds off each other, it's fun."
"That was a blast," said Cunningham, who also hit his eighth homer of the season and 18th of his career with a 400-foot-plus blast in the sixth inning. "These are the nights you live for at the ballpark - beautiful summer night, school's out, great ballpark, good team comes to town. This was incredible."
After posting back-to-back shutouts against TCU and Kansas State in his last two outings, Bradford struggled out of the gates. He loaded the bases in the top of the first with a pair of walks and a double by Matt Koon, but the sophomore lefty escaped the jam when Andy Thomas and Shea Langeliers pulled off a first-to-catcher-to-first double play on Christian Funk's grounder.
Coach Steve Rodriguez said the first-inning double play "was a huge momentum shift for us."
"That double play, honestly, was what set the tone for us the rest of the game," said Bradford, who gave up three runs on five hits and four walks in 6.2 innings with a career-high-tying 10 strikeouts. "We came out and answered in the bottom of the first inning. If we hadn't gotten that double play, the outcome of the game probably would have changed. That's what set the momentum."
Baylor's offense answered immediately, with Nick Loftin bouncing a single up the middle, Cunningham ripping a double to the right-center gap and Andy Thomas following a hit batter with a three-run double up the right-field alley. Shea Langeliers hit a sac fly to right that scored Thomas and extended the lead to 4-0.
"You understand that a good pitcher is on the mound, but Nick hits him well and that just kind of takes the pressure off everyone and says, `OK, we can hit him, too,''' Cunningham said.
Bradford extended his scoreless streak to 19 2/3 innings by retiring the first two batters in the top of the second, but the league-leading Cowboys (28-18-1, 15-4) got on the board with three straight hits by Carson McCusker, Ryan Cash and Andrew Rosa to cut the deficit in half.
Obviously amped-up after a two-week break, Bradford said he had to "come back in the dugout and take some deep breaths" after the second inning.
"(Pitching coach Jon Strauss) said, `Hey, your adrenaline's going right now. You just have to calm down and remember what you've been doing the past couple weeks and go out there and play your game,''' he said.
"Starting in the fourth inning when I (struck out) the side, that's when I started getting control of everything, calmed down, got a hold of the two-seam (fastball), started sinking it into their bats. We knew OSU was a hard-swinging team, so we were trying to work it down in the zone. The first three innings, when I gave up four hits, I left the ball up."
OSU starter Joe Lienhard (5-2) gave up two hits and also hit a batter in the third, but he worked out of it with a strikeout and grounder back to the mound. But, the Bears put up another crooked number in the fourth with a leadoff solo homer by Cole Haring and three runs on singles by Loftin, Cunningham and Thomas and a Davis Wendzel double.
Baylor's top four hitters in the lineup went 12-for-17 with 10 RBI and scored 10 of the team's 13 runs.
"When you have (Loftin, Cunningham and Wendzel) setting the table for Thomas and Langeliers, a lot of good things are going to happen," Rodriguez said. "As those guys go, we go. I've been really happy, because there have been moments when maybe they aren't as crisp and the bottom of the order steps up. We've had some really fun games where different guys are able to step up. When those guys go, it's really fun to see."
Cunningham's leadoff homer in the sixth stretched the lead to 9-2. "(Reliever Ben Leeper) was really good, and he was throwing good cutters and sliders. But, to get that 3-1 fastball, I'm glad I didn't miss it," he said.
Bradford sandwiched his last two strikeouts around a one-out walk in the seventh before leaving with that seven-run lead. The Cowboys got back in it with a three-run homer by Kroon off reliever Joe Heineman, but the Bears answered with another four-run outburst in the bottom of the seventh.
Bringing 10 batters to the plate, the Bears got four walks off Leeper and C.J. Varela, singles by T.J. Raguse and Cunningham, a double by Wendzel and Langeliers' second sac fly of the game, this one on a shallow fly to left caught by the shortstop.
Kyle Hill worked two hitless innings to finish it off, the Bears winning their seventh consecutive conference game. The series continues with games at 3:05 p.m. Saturday and Sunday's Senior Day game at 1:05 p.m. Sunday.
"This is the time of the year where you just want to keep peaking and elevating," Cunningham said. "It's absolutely critical to take it one day at a time. The more momentum you can build as conference play ends, tournament season comes, it's crucial."
WACO, Texas -- Baylor baseball toppled No. 20 Oklahoma State 13-5 on Friday night at Baylor Ballpark. The Bears (29-17, 10-9) used good pitching and even better hitting to take the series opener from the Cowboys (28-18-1, 15-4).
After escaping a bases loaded situation in the top of the first, Baylor responded by loading the bases right away in the bottom half and cashing in. Nick Loftin led off with a single, Richard Cunningham hit a double and Davis Wendzel was hit by a pitch. Andy Thomas broke it open with a three-run double and scored on a Shea Langeliers sacrifice fly.
OSU countered with two runs in the second, but BU separated again in the fourth. Cole Haring led off with a home run, Nick Loftin singled and moved over on an error, Cunningham hit a run-scoring single, Wendzel roped an RBI double and Thomas drove another run with a single.
Cunningham added to the lead again in the sixth with a solo homer.
In the seventh, Oklahoma State hit a three-run homer. However, the Bears bounced right back with a Cunningham RBI single, Wendzel two-run double and Langeliers sac fly.
BU starter Cody Bradford (6-4) earned the win, giving up three runs on five hits and four walks with 10 strikeouts in 6.2 innings. OSU starter Joe Leinhard (5-2) took the loss, allowing eight runs on 11 hits with one strikeout in four innings.
*Baylor's 13-game winning streak is its longest since the program-record 24-game run in 2012 and gives BU 10-game winning streaks in back-to-back seasons (10 games from Feb. 17-March 3, 2017) for the first time since 1998 (14) and 1999 (14). The 13-game streak leads all NCAA DI teams.
*Baylor is 16-23 against ranked opponents under third-year head coach Steve Rodriguez (4-5 in 2018, 7-10 in 2017, 5-8 in 2016) and is 4-6 in three-game series against ranked foes. Prior to topping No. 8 Texas Tech on March 16-17, BU's last win over a ranked opponent was Feb. 24 at No. 11 UCLA (8-6) and last series win over a ranked opponent was vs. No. 23 Houston on March 10-12, 2017.
*Baylor is 14-18 under Rodriguez against Baseball America ranked opponents (4-4 in 2018, 7-9 in 2017, 3-4 in 2016) and is 3-5 in three-game series against ranked foes. Prior to topping No. 8 Texas Tech on March 16-17, BU's last win over a Baseball America ranked opponent was Feb. 24 at No. 11 UCLA (8-6) and last series win over a Baseball America ranked opponent was vs. No. 23 Houston on March 10-12, 2017.
*Baylor is 208-306-1 all-time against Baseball America ranked opponents and 176-259-1 in regular season play.
*Baylor is 6-4 in three-game series this season (2-3 on road, 4-1 at home) and has a combined record of 17-12.
*Baylor has won 15 of its last 16 games.
*Baylor has 10 or more wins (10) in Big 12 play for the third straight season.
*Baylor has hit 128 home runs in 156 games under Rodriguez. BU hit 51 in 2017 for its most homers since 2010 (57). BU has 43 in 2018.
*Baylor has 36 multi-home run games under Rodriguez (nine 2016, 14 in 2017, 13 in 2018).
*Baylor has finished its home schedule with a .500 record or better (18-6 in 2018) in all 19 seasons at Baylor Ballpark (since 1999) and is 435-198 all-time at the park.
*Baylor has scored 97 runs in its last 48 innings.
*Cody Bradford won his career-high sixth game as he tied a career high with 10 strikeouts, giving him two 10-strikeout games this season. The last season in which a player had two or more 10-strikeout games was 2010 (Shawn Tolleson (3), Logan Verrett (2)).
*Davis Wendzel has reached base in a career-high 35 straight games, marking Baylor's longest since a 35-game streak in 2013 by Lawton Langford. He also has a 15-game hitting streak. He had his team-high-tying 17th multi-hit game (2) and ninth multi-RBI game (3).
*Andy Thomas has a 17-game on-base streak and eight-game hitting streak. He totaled his team-high-tying 17th multi-hit game (career-high-tying three hits) and eighth multi-RBI game (career high four RBI).
*Freshman Nick Loftin has reached base in 16 straight games and has an eight-game hitting streak. He had his 15th multi-hit game (2).
*T.J. Raguse has a 16-game on-base streak and nine-game hitting streak.
*Freshman Davion Downey has reached base in 12 straight games.
*Josh Bissonette has a six-game hitting streak.
*Richard Cunningham tallied his 15th multi-hit game (career high five hits) and 10th multi-RBI game (3) as he hit his career-high eighth home run of the season and 18th of his career. He has a three-game hitting streak.
*Cole Haring has a four-game on-base streak and registered his 13th multi-hit game (2) as he hit his fifth homer of the season and his career. He has a three-game hitting streak.
*Shea Langeliers totaled his team-high 11th multi-RBI game (2).
QUOTE OF THE GAME
"I thought our guys did a phenomenal job, coming out really not trying to over-do it, in an environment where it's a little intense down here with the pressure of what we have to do. Just proud of our guys for staying within themselves. They did a great job, that's a great sign when you're hitting the ball up the middle. And having Cody [Bradford] settle down and get us into the seventh inning was a pretty good sign. Really proud of all our guys for what they've done and be able to come out today and put a stamp on this Friday game." -- Baylor Head Coach Steve Rodriguez
The Bears continue their series vs. No. 20 Oklahoma State on Saturday at 3:05 p.m. CT and Sunday at 1:05 p.m. For tickets to home games, visit: http://www.baylorbears.com/tickets/. For updates on the program follow @baylorbaseball on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.