By Nathan Keil | Sports Editor
After Baylor senior Nick Lewis only made it through one inning in Wednesday’s 11-1 loss to West Virginia, junior Montana Parsons (5-3) needed to give the Bears a fighting chance against Texas Tech on Thursday morning.
Parsons did just that. The Big 12 Co-Newcomer of the Year went six strong innings, allowing three runs on eight hits, striking out five while walking one.
Unfortunately for Parsons and Baylor, it wasn’t enough as the bats failed to come up with any clutch hits and Texas Tech ousted Baylor from the Philips 66 Big 12 Conference Tournament with a 4-1 victory.
Similar to Lewis’ downfall against the Mountaineers, Parsons was tagged for one poor inning, a three-run second inning by the Red Raiders.
After working a scoreless first inning with two strikeouts, the Red Raiders took advantage of Parsons’ elevated fastballs in the second inning.
It began with back-to-back doubles by senior first baseman Hunter Hargrove and senior right fielder Ryan Long to give Texas Tech an early 1-0 lead. After a mental mistake on the rubber, resulting in a balk and allowing Long to head to third, junior shortstop Orlando Garcia stepped to the plate and delivered the key blow to Baylor, launching a two-run home run to left, extending the Red Raiders’ lead to 3-0.
Garcia said the team was trying to put Wednesday behind them and hopes that Thursday’s survival will give the team some needed confidence going forward.
“Everyday is a new day, good or bad. So today was a new day, yesterday-we forget about it,” Garcia said. “So I think we do a good job as a club. So tomorrow is a new day and we got some good out of today.”
Parsons settled down once more after the second inning, scattering four hits over the next four innings before making way for senior closer Troy Montemayor. Texas Tech added a solo home run off the bat of sophomore center fielder Cody Farhat in the seventh inning off Montemayor.
Baylor looked more competent at the plate, out hitting the Red Raiders 10-9 after being limited to just three hits on Wednesday.
Despite more opportunities, Texas Tech sophomore left-handed pitcher Steven Gingery was still in control against Baylor. Gingery (9-1) scattered seven hits over six strong innings with three walks and six strikeouts, including striking out four of the first five hitters he faced.
Baylor head coach Steve Rodriguez noted how well Gingery’s energy kept up throughout the game and how much of impact it had on his team.
“I think everyone is energized early on in the game. You kind of hope that he gets tired by the end of the game. You hope to see his arm drop a bit, or stagger over to first base, but that isn’t what happened,” Rodriguez said. “You have to tip your hat to him. It’s frustrating to be the coach on the receiving end of that, but all you can do is tip your hat to him and respect the play.”
Baylor stranded 11 men on base and put at least one runner on in every inning against Texas Tech. The Bears were 3-21 at the plate with two outs and just 1-15 with runners in scoring position.
Rodriguez said that despite trying various different tactics to score runs against Gingery but some days you don’t get the results you hope and plan for.
“We were facing the Pitcher of the Year, and there is a reason he has had as much success as he’s had,” Rodriguez said. “We got the guys in scoring position, and we tried to create as much chaos as we could using various strategies. I told our guys that a two-out hit is going to be a big deal for us today. We wanted to force contact as best as possible. We were able to do it at some points throughout the game, but we weren’t able to do it at others. Unfortunately, It just didn’t work out for us today.”
The Bears had their first opportunity in the third inning after a leadoff single by junior second baseman Steven McLean and a walk to sophomore second baseman Josh Bissonette. However, a double play ball ended the threat.
In the fourth, junior right fielder Kameron Esthay led off with a double and was moved to third on a fly ball. After a strikeout and a walk, freshman third baseman Davis Wendzel was gunned down on the base path trying to steal third, stalling another rally.
Baylor put two runners in the fifth, sixth and eighth innings as well but all efforts were naught as the Texas Tech bullpen worked their way out of these jams.
The Bears did scratch one run across in the seventh inning. After a single by sophomore outfielder T. J. Raguse and a balk moved him to third, fellow sophomore outfielder Richard Cunningham delivered an RBI double into the right field corner, putting Baylor on the board and cutting the deficit to 3-1. A walk to Bissonette put two men on with one out, but back-to-back strikeouts by freshman catcher Shea Langeliers and Esthay ended the threat.
Farhat’s home run in the seventh gave Texas Tech a three run cushion once again and Baylor stranded three runners in the eighth and ninth innings as the top seeded Red Raiders survived to play another round.
Texas Tech (42-14) will take on the loser of West Virginia and Oklahoma State at 3:15 p.m. Friday.
Baylor (34-22) will now have to wait until Monday’s NCAA Baseball Selection Show to find out its postseason fate. Despite the disappointing 0-2 finish in the tournament, Rodriguez said he remains confident in his team’s chances of making the NCAA tournament.
“I think our resume is pretty good. When you look at the amount of top-50 and top-100 wins that we’ve had and the teams we’ve played, I think our resume speaks for itself,” Rodriguez said. “Not to mention we are playing in the best conference in the country. Going .500 in our conference is a tremendous feat in this conference right now.”
Baylor entered the tournament winning seven of its last 10 games, however, it has now lost four straight to end the season.
Baylor is currently 21 in the RPI (Rating Percentage Index, measures ranking based on wins, losses, and strength of schedule) and has the eighth hardest schedule in the country. The Bears are 16-12 against teams currently ranked in the RPI Top 50 and 24-19 against teams in the Top 100.
The selection show will air at 11 a.m. Monday on ESPNU.