By Rachel Caton
LAWRENCE, Kan. – The Bears completed a doubleheader sweep of host Kansas on Saturday at Haglund Ballpark. The Bears won game one in come-from-behind fashion, 8-2, and game two in an 8-0 shutout.
The red-hot Nick Loftin led the way at the plate, with two multi-hit performances, going 5-for-10 with 4 RBI and one home run.
In game one, the Bears got outstanding pitching from starter Paul Dickens, who threw a career-high 6.0 innings, allowing just two runs on two hits while striking out a career-best 12 batters and walking just two. He combined with Daniel Caruso, who threw a scoreless seventh inning and Ryan Leckich, who put up zeros in the eighth and ninth as the pitching staff held the Jayhawks (14-12, 0-5 Big 12) to just two runs on three hits.
The Baylor offense jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the fifth inning off a sac fly by Andy Thomas. However, the Jayhawks answered right back, with a two-run homer by Blaine Ray to take a 2-1 lead in the bottom half of the inning.
In the seventh inning, the Bears were able to break open the game in a big way. Cole Haring mashed an opposite field grand slam, his team-leading sixth homer of the year to give the Bears the lead back, 5-2. Then with two outs, Richard Cunningham delivered his first of two homers on the day, this one a three-run shot to give the Bears an 8-2 lead.
That was all the Bears needed, as the bullpen of Caruso and Leckich shut things down the rest of the way.
Dickens, who carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning and at one point retired 10 straight, earned the win to advance to 3-1 on the year, while Jayhawks’ reliever, Blake Goldsberry took the loss to fall to 2-3 on the year.
In game two, the Bears wasted no time getting on the board, as Davis Wendzel cranked a solo shot with two outs in the top of the first inning to jump on starter Ryan Cyr, 1-0.
From there the Bears plated at least run in every other inning. In the top of the third the Bears added a second on a Nick Loftin single, his first of four RBI on the day.
Then in the fifth inning, Cunningham connected on his second homer of the day and fourth of the year, a solo shot to make it a 3-0 ballgame.
In the seventh, it was Loftin’s time for his fourth homer of the year, this one a two-run shot as the Bears’ lead ballooned to 5-0.
Then in the ninth, the Bears were able to take advantage of some miscues by the Jayhawks, as they lost multiple balls in the lights as they dropped in for hits. The Bears plated three runs on four hits, receiving RBIs from Loftin, Cunningham and Andy Thomas.
Starter Jimmy Winston was outstanding, earning his third win of the year, tossing a career-best 7.0 scoreless innings, while striking out a career-high five and walking just two. Jacob Ashkinos finished off the shutout for the Bears, putting up zeros in the eighth and ninth to complete the sweep.
The Bears will go for the series sweep over Kansas on Sunday, March 31 at 1:00 p.m. CT at Hoglund Ballpark in Lawrence.