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Baylor baseball stumbles in Valley series finale, 7-4

Baylor baseball stumbles in Valley series finale, 7-4

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Though Jared McKenzie had seven hits on the weekend on his way to being named Big 12 Newcomer of the Week, Baylor’s baseball team dropped two of three games at UT Rio Grande Valley.

EDINBURG — Baylor baseball’s great start to the season didn’t yield a series win.

The Bears dropped the series finale to UT Rio Grande Valley on Monday, losing, 7-4. As a result, Baylor (1-2) dropped the series by losing the final two games despite winning Sunday’s opening game and taking an 8-0 lead in Game 2.

Baylor’s pitching struggled to keep the Vaqueros (2-1) under wraps all weekend, finishing with a 7.20 ERA and tossing nearly as many walks (13) as strikeouts (17). UTGRV hitters tagged Baylor hurlers for a .304 average.

“It was good to get a lot of guys out there on our pitching staff to try and get some of the anxiousness and nervousness out,” Baylor coach Steve Rodriguez said. “We just made a few too many mistakes, some walks, some hit-by-pitches and defensively we made some costly errors that added on. They (UTRGV) got the hits with guys in scoring position. We had a lot of guys get on base but we just couldn’t get the big hit to continue the inning.”

In the series finale, the Vaqueros made Baylor play chase from the outset. UTRGV took a 1-0 lead after the opening inning, taking advantage of a BU error to score an unearned run off of BU senior starter Jimmy Winston (0-1).

Baylor bounced back in the second inning to tie the game when Antonio Valdez stroked an RBI single to right following an 11-pitch at-bat. But the Bears couldn’t keep the Vaqueros off the basepaths or away from the pay station. UTGRV went up 4-1 with a three-run bottom of the second, aided by Spencer Serven’s RBI double and Conrado Diaz’s two-run single.

Baylor actually outhit the Vaqueros on the weekend, as the Bears registered a .333 average and tallied double-digit hit outputs in every game. It wasn’t enough, though, and BU’s batters also left kicking themselves to a certain extent by failing to execute in some key situations.

They left 14 batters on base in the finale, and the costliest blow came in the eighth. They cut the gap to 6-4 on Jack Pineda’s single through the left side of the infield to drive home Jared McKenzie. Pineda’s hit chased Vaqueros starter Colten Davis from the game, and a subsequent Kyle Nevin walk loaded the bases with two outs for senior catcher Andy Thomas. However, Thomas popped out in foul territory for the third out, leaving the bags full of Bears.

UTRGV banged out a pair of singles and took advantage of a wild pitch off BU closer Luke Boyd in the bottom of the eighth to add an insurance run. Ultimately the Vaqueros didn’t really need the cushion, as the Bears couldn’t trim the gap any closer. In the ninth, they put a pair of runners on base before Vaqueros closer Chase Bridges induced a couple of flyouts to end the game. Bridges picked up the save, while Davis (1-0) notched the win.

Winston (0-1) absorbed the loss for Baylor, giving up three hits and four runs — three earned — in a short two-inning stint.

Tre Richardson went 3-for-4 with a double, two runs scored and a stolen base to pace the Bears at the dish. Richardson is hitting .429 (6-for-14) on the young season.

Baylor’s next action will come on Friday when it faces former Big 12 and Southwest Conference rival Texas A&M at the Round Rock Classic at Dell Diamond. The Bears will follow by playing Auburn on Saturday and Oklahoma on Sunday at the event.

Bear Facts

Baylor freshman centerfielder Jared McKenzie was selected as the Big 12 Newcomer of the Week on Monday thanks to his stellar play in Sunday’s doubleheader against UTRGV. McKenzie went 6-for-11 with his first two career home runs, along with five runs scored and five RBIs. In BU’s season-opening win, McKenzie tied his career high with four hits.

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