Bears win with fifth walk-off hit of season

By Lindsay Cash

Sunday at Baylor Ballpark handed the baseball team chilly weather and a chance to take the three game series against Kansas State. After the 21st ranked Bears rallied to grab a 4-3 win over the Wildcats, they move to 3-3 in conference play.

The key moments in the game were solely derived from talent – sophomore Jake Miller’s game-winning RBI, senior Chris Slater’s game-changing triple and a double play to end the game – but the team has no problem admitting they’re pleased with luck hanging around, too.

“I think today was a great example of our team being lucky and good. We had early errors in the field we were able to come back strong on, and a huge break in the top of the ninth,” coach Steve Smith said. “There’s no other way to describe that. That’s baseball.”

Junior Trent Blank started on the mound and pitched into the sixth inning, finishing with two strikeouts. Taking advantage of a throwing error, the Wildcats earned two runs by the third inning.

The Baylor bats got hot in the fifth inning, causing momentum to rise. Sophomore Steve DalPorto’s line shot followed by junior Brooks Pinckard’s grounder in the gap put two on for Slater. His smash down the left field line sent both DalPorto and Pinckard home to tie the game.

Rattled, the Wildcats put in reliever Jared Moore. But sophomore Max Muncy, who had a handful of solid plays at first, singled up the middle to score Slater and push the Bears ahead, 3-2.

“Hitting is contagious; it’s one after another. You see the guys in front of you do it, and it just happens,” Slater said of his triple.

In the sixth inning, Blank handed it off to senior reliever Jon Ringenberg, who had a huge strikeout to diminish Kansas’ hope of moving their runners home safely.

“Jon’s inning was huge in the way he was able to hand it off to Max,” Smith said.

Defensive effort peaked in the seventh inning as sophomore Max Garner entered for Ringenberg. Sophomore Cal Towey hurled a game saving throw home to junior Josh Ludy, whose tag held the Wildcats off the board.

Wildcat Tanner Witt was ejected after crashing into Ludy.

When the score tied up at three runs each in the eighth, Pinckard entered to close. The inning ended when a line drive came back and Pinckard and ricocheted off his foot right to Muncy, who stepped on first for the out.

“Max Muncy was able to make a big play to end the inning when the ball bounced off my ankle,” Pinckard said. “I had no idea where it was. It was a huge break.”

All tied up in the eighth, Cal Towey grabbed a double on a Kansas State overthrow to first. But Miller made the Wildcats pay with his line drive over shortstop. Miller’s RBI created an exciting play at the plate with Towey sliding safe and Baylor going ahead, 4-3.

The Bears ended the series on a double play turned by senior Landis Ware at shortstop.

“It’s great to be 3-3, but we have a big five-game week coming up, and we’re going to take it one game at a time,” Slater said.

The Bears host UTSA and Lamar in Waco on Tuesday and Wednesday before heading to Lawrence, Kan., for a weekend series against Kansas.