Turley’s pitching key in 7-6 upset of No. 8 Texas

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By Chris Derrett
Sports Editor

Baylor starting pitcher Josh Turley wasn’t used to the media attention he got following the Bears’ 7-6 win over Texas Saturday. But if having a career day means pushing back postgame plans because of interviews, Turley welcomes it with open arms. “I’d rather pitch well and get the win than pitch poorly and go eat dinner,” Turley said.

Turley tossed eight innings, holding the Longhorns (23-8, 8-3) to three runs on seven hits while striking out five and allowing just one walk. His innings thrown set a new career high, as did his 114 pitches.

“For us to have a chance, Josh had to be special today. And he was,” head coach Steve Smith said.

The win was also the first for Baylor (18-14, 5-6) over Texas at Baylor Ballpark since 2005. Baylor committed five errors in Friday’s game against the Longhorns before falling, 11-3.

Junior Dan Evatt gave the Bears the lead for good with a two-run home run that carried over the left field wall, soaring with the help of winds blowing upwards of 25 miles per hour. The shot was the first allowed by Texas starter Hoby Milner this season and a game-changing play in Smith’s opinion.

“I think Evatt’s ball is the thing that really gave us some life and maybe put just a hair of doubt in [Texas’] mind,” Smith said.

Milner left the next inning and ultimately took the loss to fall to 3-2. His counterpart, Turley, was still going strong, partly thanks to his ability to make adjustments and minimized damage.

“As long as I was trusting my stuff out there, I felt really good,” Turley said. “The first couple innings I was a little hyped up and trying to throw harder than I needed to, then I settled down and felt really great.”

Turley was particularly able to contain the Longhorns in the third inning, important against a Texas team outscoring its opponents 68-22 in the first three innings. With runners on second and third, Turley fanned Lucas Kephart and Tant Shepherd for his first and second strikeouts of the game.

“That was huge for us, because we’re fighting for everything we can get, and they’re fighting for everything they can get,” Smith said. “To get those punchouts like that was, at that point in time, pretty big.”

Baylor grabbed another four runs in the seventh with a two-RBI double from sophomore Max Muncy and a two-RBI single from junior Josh Ludy.

Baylor’s seventh inning insurance proved to be completely necessary for the win, because similar to its recent performances against Big 12 opponents, the Bears’ bullpen kept things interesting.

Following Turley’s hit batter to start the ninth inning, junior Brooks Pinckard entered the game looking to seal the win and cut his high Big 12 ERA.

He was unable to do either, allowing an RBI single down the left field line that Turley, still in the game at left field, hustled to cut off. The next batter, pinch hitter Jonathan Walsh, crushed a 1-1 fastball over right field that plated three more runs.

Smith then turned to sophomore Max Garner for one-out save, and Garner delivered, getting Lucas Kephart to ground out and end the game.

Pinckard’s 2011 ERA against Big 12 teams grew to 13.50 after Saturday’s game while Garner’s remained at 3.24.

Considering Garner’s success thus far in the conference season, Smith said he was considering using Garner in Saturday’s game for a three-out save instead of turning to Pinckard first. The only concern was Garner’s elbow, which took a hard liner on Tuesday in the Bears’ loss at Sam Houston State.

The injury did not seem to affect Garner on Saturday, as he threw a changeup for a first pitch strike before retiring Kephart. Such an effort has Smith reconsidering who he wants to close Baylor’s games.

“You can’t just say, ‘Pinckard’s our closer, so every time we get to the end of the game, he has to pitch,’” Smith said. “I think our best guy right now clearly at the end of the game is Max. But again, he’s not going to be perfect either.”