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Baseball team gets 2 wins at Enron

Feb. 6, 2001

Bears have strong showing at Classic


Sports writer

The No. 21-ranked Baylor baseball team capped off its first weekend of play with homeruns, solid pitching and a birthday party.

Head Coach Steve Smith's 40th birthday fell on Friday during the Houston Astros College Classic, and his players celebrated by blasting the University of Houston 16-7. Junior catcher Kelly Shoppach's three-run homer in the first inning, and Mark Saccomanno's repeat of the feat in the fourth, topped Smith's cake.

'At the pre-game meal we sang happy birthday to him and that got a good laugh out of him,' Shoppach said. 'We also wore black bands around our wrists that had '40' on them to signify that he was over-the-hill. We just picked on him a little bit.'

The blowout followed a disappointing Thursday night against No. 12-ranked Rice University. Outstanding pitching kept the game scoreless until the bottom of the 10th inning when Jesse Roman's solo homerun spoiled Baylor's season opener, as Rice took the game 1-0. Baylor starting pitcher Josh Scott threw seven scoreless innings, giving up four hits and two walks, while striking out two. Justin Taylor came in to start the eighth inning and had struck out four before giving up the homerun to Roman. Besides the one homer, the Bears cut the Owls' hits down to four.

'Josh did real well,' Shoppach said. 'He kept us in the ball game and kept their hitters off balance.'

The Owls arsenal had Kenny Baugh, who pitched eight shutout innings and struck out eight before reliever Phillip Barzilla finished the game in an inning and a third, striking out two. The Bears could only muster six hits against Rice and never got on the board.

'We'd seen guys like him before,' Shoppach said. 'He had a sneaky delivery and we couldn't judge how fast the pitch would be. It was good to see someone like him at the first of the season.'

Despite a tough beginning, the Bears finished the tournament with a positive 2-1 record, defeating the University of Houston and Texas Christian University.

Baylor took on TCU Saturday and finished the game with a 12-4 victory.

'We just got our bats going on the second day and we were still hot to finish against TCU,' Saccomanno said. 'We got over the hype and started relaxing.'

Baylor scored a run in the fourth inning, two in the fifth and added four in the sixth, highlighted by a two-run double by pinch-hitter Nolan Leinweber. The Horned Frogs countered in the seventh inning with three runs, but they were never able to catch Baylor.

'This tournament was good for us because it was like exhibition matches in basketball,' Saccomanno said. 'It was good to face some opposing pitchers and see how you do.'

Shoppach earned the title of most outstanding player of the tournament, going 8-for-13 with six RBI. Senior pitcher Josh Scott and senior second baseman Trevor Mote joined Shoppach on the all-tournament team.

The Bears begin home play today against the University of Texas-Arlington at 6 p.m. at the Baylor Ballpark.

'We're going to take it like they're A&M on a weekend. We can't take it light-heartedly because they've proven themselves,' Saccomanno said. 'I would love to see a sell-out crowd at our first home game.'