By Daniel Hill
The Baylor Bears lost a weekend series to TCU in Fort Worth two games to one. The Baylor baseball team was victorious 3-2 in the first game on Friday night and then lost 2-1 in 15 innings on Saturday before losing a close 5-4 contest on Sunday.
Both Baylor and TCU wore red wristbands for all three games to support the people of West.
After losing their first Big 12 series of the season and with a two-game losing streak, the Bears are now 20-20 overall and 8-6 in Big 12 Conference Play.
Baylor is now fourth in the Big 12 standings behind Oklahoma, Kansas and Kansas State respectively.
On Friday, with the game tied 2-2 in the top of the ninth inning, freshman first baseman Mitch Price entered the game to pinch hit. With the pressure mounting, Price crushed a home run to give Baylor what would eventually turn out to be the deciding third run of the game to push Baylor past TCU, 3-2. The home run was Price’s second home run of the season.
“It was a really, really good college baseball game,” head coach Steve Smith said. “Both sides played it well. We are glad to get the win. We are glad to hopefully encourage our friends in West. Even the umpires got into it tonight with the red wristbands. We are praying for them. We know there’s a lot of hurt families there and we continue to think about them.”
Deciding to pinch hit with Price in the ninth inning was crucial in sparking Baylor’s victory.
“What can you say – some days the buttons you push work,” Smith said. “Mitchell certainly got a good piece of the ball, squared it up well. It was a heck of a college baseball game.”
Senior right handed pitcher Max Garner started the game on the mound for the Bears and delivered with seven innings and only gave up two runs on five hits. Senior left-handed pitcher Crayton Bare earned the win for the Bears by pitching a hitless final two frames to help preserve the Baylor win. Bare is now 4-1 on the season, and he struck out three batters in his two innings of work.
During game two on Saturday, the wind made conditions difficult for the hitters. The pitchers dominated the day as the ferocious wind kept hits shallow.
TCU defeated Baylor 2-1 in 15 innings despite two strong pitching performances from two Baylor right-handed pitchers. Both sophomore right-hander Austin Stone and junior right-hander Josh Michalec delivered for the Bears by combining to pitch 14 and two-thirds innings while only allowing two runs.
“This was a day for the pitchers, and everyone that we ran out there threw the ball really well,” Steve Smith said. “[Austin] kept throwing strikes and worked up in the zone. That’s what you have to have on a day like today [with the wind blowing in].”
Stone pitched eight and one-third innings and only allowed one run. Michalec pitched six and one-third innings and conceded the game-winning run to TCU in the bottom of the 15th inning.
“Michalec got the loss, and it’s unfortunate, and a bit unfair,” Steve Smith said. “He threw extremely well. His stuff was great. They just found a way to get the ball to the wall there.”
In the rubber match on Sunday afternoon to decide the winner of the series, TCU defeated Baylor 5-4 to claim the 2-1 series victory.
“Today was just a day of inches, really,” Smith said. “Some ground balls got through for them, some didn’t for us. They put the ball in play a little better than we did, but it was a very competitive game.”
Sophomore right-handed pitcher Ryan Smith started on the mound for the Bears, and he allowed five runs in six and one-third innings of work. Ryan Smith gave up one run in the second inning, three in the fourth and one more in the seventh. Bare came in and pitched shutout ball for the remaining five outs of the game.
“[Ryan Smith] is going to learn every time he goes out there,” head coach Steve Smith said. “Of all the guys that we throw, he’s probably got the least experience on the mound. I thought early on in the game he was pacing himself. He made some bad pitches, got behind in the count and left some fastballs up in the fourth inning. But after that he really got after it. His stuff was good, he competed hard, we rode him pretty hard and I thought he did a great job.”
The Bears hit the road again today to take on Dallas Baptist and then come back to Baylor Ballpark this weekend for a three-game series against the Texas Longhorns.