By Lindsay Cash, Daniel Wallace and Chris Derrett
Sunday at Baylor Ballpark handed the baseball team chilly weather and a chance to take the three game series against Kansas State.
“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.
The Baylor bats got hot in the fifth inning. Sophomore Steve DalPorto’s line shot followed by junior Brooks Pinckard’s grounder in the gap put two on for senior Chris Slater. His smash down the left field line sent both DalPorto and Pinckard home to tie the game.
Sophomore Max Muncy later 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.
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 to 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, sophomore Cal Towey grabbed a double on a Kansas State overthrow to first. But sophomore Jake 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.
Relief pitching struggles Saturday
More late-inning struggles plagued Baylor baseball on Saturday, as the Bears fell to Kansas State, 6-3.
Freshman Trae Davis took the loss after surrendering a two-run, eighth inning homer over the right field fence to Jason King. The Mexia native entered with the game tied at three, did not record an out and gave up his ninth run in his last 4.1 innings. He dropped to 3-1 on the season.
Sophomore Crayton Bare and junior Tyler Bremer finished the eighth inning, one in which the Wildcats took advantage of three walks and a hit batter to score three runs on just two hits.
Still searching for more reliability from his relievers, Smith said he knows his bullpen has the ability to throw strikes.
“I made a decision after last night’s game that today would be Trae. That didn’t work,” Smith said.
Baylor’s loss spoiled a solid day from junior starting pitcher Josh Turley, who went seven innings, allowing three runs on 10 hits. Although Kansas State did strike several times, it was never able to pounce on Turley for more than one run in any given inning.
“As a pitcher, to limit the damage in those kinds of innings is the best thing you can do. They’re going to have innings where they score a couple of runs. It’s just a matter of how you handle it, I think,” Turley said.
Kansas State reliever Tyler Sturges’ wild pitch allowed Muncy to score in the sixth inning, and sophomore Jake Miller then slapped a single up the middle that tied the game at three runs.
BU ends Friday with walk-off hit
Senior Chris Slater roped a double down the right field line in the ninth to score senior shortstop Landis Ware and capped off the defeat of the Wildcats, 5-4.
Pinch-hitter freshman Lawton Langford reached on a fielding error to start the rally in the ninth, with the Bears trailing 4-3. Two batters later, Ware singled to right-center field to score Langford and tie the game. After a stolen base that moved him into scoring position, Ware came home easily as Slater’s line drive dropped just to the left of the foul line in right field, and the mob began as the team rushed onto the field to celebrate Baylor’s fifth walk-off hit of the season.
Starting pitcher junior Logan Verrett tossed seven innings and six were scoreless. In the third inning, the Wildcats were able to score four runs on Verrett, but that would be the only inning they would do damage at the plate.
Muncy drove in the first run of the game in the bottom of the first inning scorching a line drive to right center field for a triple; he scored Slater who earlier singled.
Relief pitcher sophomore Max Garner recorded his first win of the season, pitching two scoreless innings to close the game.