By Chris Derrett
Baylor and Texas Tech exchanged gut-wrenching losses in last weekend’s conference-opening series, with Baylor falling in Friday and Sunday’s games and winning on Saturday.
Bears lose late-inning lead Sunday
Junior Trent Blank allowed four runs in 6.1 innings and was in line for his second win this season, but Baylor (13-7, 1-2) squandered a late-inning lead before eventually losing, 10-6, in extra innings.
“I thought both teams played well,” coach Steve Smith said about the weekend. “I thought they played hard. There really was not a lot of throwing the ball around. [There were] a lot of nice plays defensively and a lot of offense.”
The Bears were ahead, 6-3, after six innings but conceded one run to Texas Tech (14-7, 2-1) in each of the last three innings. The tying run came across in the ninth when Andre Wheeler knocked the Red Raiders’ third single of the inning off junior Brooks Pinckard, scoring Trey Masek.
Misfortune struck the Bears in the 10th, as Kelby Tomlinson struck out for what should have been the second out of the inning but reached first safely on a dropped third strike.
The next batter struck out, and Texas Tech then made Baylor pay for not retiring Tomlinson. Pinckard gave up three straight walks, one intentional then two unintended, to walk in the winning run. Two singles were responsible for the Red Raiders’ other three runs.
“I’m betting they go out to eat with their girlfriends. They will bounce back very nicely,” Smith said of his team coming back.
Ludy’s single on Saturday lets Baylor escape with nailbiting win
Entering Texas Tech’s ninth inning Saturday, it looked like the Bears had an easy victory. Baylor would go on to get the 14-13 win, but the Red Raiders’ offensive assault and the Bears’ subsequent comeback kept the few fans still in attendance anxious until the last pitch.
Junior Josh Ludy saved Baylor from defeat, hitting a single in the bottom of the ninth that plated sophomore Max Muncy and netted the Bears their fourth walk-off win of the year.
“Obviously what happened today is something that you never want to happen to you in one inning, but we did well to get it done and come out with a win,” Ludy said.
Ludy was speaking about the top of the ninth, in which Texas Tech scored nine runs on nine hits to erase a 13-4 deficit. Freshman pitcher Brad Kuntz handed the ball to junior Tyler Bremer with one out, the bases loaded in the ninth after Kuntz allowed two runs.
All three of Bremer’s inherited runners scored. A single and a double brought another two runs, and still two more came home for the 13-13 tie as Bo Altobelli was thrown out at second trying to stretch his single into a double.
Ludy was the Bears’ top performer with five RBI and a 3 for 6 day at the plate.
Tech robs Hainsfurther of game-winning hit Friday
Baylor junior Joey Hainsfurther thought the ball he stroked into center field would fall for yet another Bears walk-off hit, but centerfielder Barrett Barnes thought otherwise. On a 3-2 pitch with two outs and the bases loaded, Barnes dove to rob Hainsfurther of a game-winning hit and secure a 6-5 Texas Tech win.
“The game asked [for] me to get a good pitch and put a good swing on it and that is what I did,” Hainsfurther said. “I can’t be too down on myself about it. I felt good at the plate, but it just didn’t work out for us. Baseball does that sometimes.”
The Bears could not overcome early struggles from junior starting pitcher Logan Verrett. Verrett surrendered an unearned run in the first and three earned runs the next inning off a walk, two doubles and a single.
Smith said he would have liked to see Verrett use his fastball, clocked at 93 miles per hour, more often. Smith added he saw the same problem when Verrett used his changeup, “by far his fourth best pitch,” at the end of Verrett’s complete game-shutout against Louisiana Tech on March 11.
“The guy who threw a changeup to try to finish a one-hit, 14-strikeout shutout was [the player] who pitched tonight,” Smith said. “It wasn’t the guy that was out there saying, ‘You can’t beat me.’”