Baylor came out like gangbusters on opening day, roaring back from a 7-2 deficit with a three-run eighth and four-run ninth. Grayson Porter's game-tying two-run homer was a great moment in a game that the Bears easily could have lost. LHP Daniel Castano saw his first collegiate action out of the pen and threw a clean inning with two Ks. Josh Michaelec got his first save of the season with a clean ninth. See the full recap here.
Game two saw a few bright spots, like Darryn Sheppard's first collegiate homerun, but Brad Kuntz struggled and the bullpen combo of Spicer, Smith, and Ashby couldn't right the ship. See the full recap here.
In game three, Austin Stone struggled through 4.1 wild innings, walking 5 batters, but only allowing a single unearned run. After he departed, however, the bullpen gave up the ghost, surrendering 11 runs over the next 2 innings. A bright spot in the game was Kyle Ott throwing the final 1.2 innings with two Ks and no runs allowed. It was a nice rebound from game one when he allowed 4 runs in a single inning. I'll chock that up to nerves. See the full recap here.
Four observations from the series - Two good... Two not-so-much.
1) Darryn Sheppard had an amazing debut. By game three, the ASU announcers were already referring to him as our best hitter. It's only one series, but .385/.385./615 with a homerun and three RBIs in three games is a very nice beginning.
2) Freshman Aaron Dodson started at first base in all three games. I'm a little surprised that he got the call over Mitch Price, but Dodson acquitted himself extremely well in his first college experience, with 3 hits, a double, a walk and a hit-by-pitch in three games.
3) The not-so-good: Lawton Langford's defense. Over two games at shortstop, Langford committed three errors. In game three, after being switched back to second base, Langford made yet another error when an easy double play ball slipped under his glove. That one led directly to a unearned run for Austin Stone. I don't expect Langford's struggles to be a long-term issue. He's been too solid in the field for the last couple years for that.
4) The not-so-good again: The pitching struggled. I've said before that pitching should be the strength of this team. I stand by that, but early in the season, players are still settling in (see Langford above), especially pitchers. Newman in particular allowed 6 hits and 2 HBP over 4.1 innings. He'll clean that up and go deep into games for this team.
Everyone in and around Waco needs to make their way out to Baylor Ballpark (one of the best ballparks in college baseball, in my opinion) this Tuesday at 6:35 for Baylor's home opener against UT-Arlington. Sic ‘em, Baseball!