By Chris Derrett
Baylor baseball coach Steve Smith said he sent a text message to one of his players at 3 a.m. Saturday morning, unable to sleep after Friday’s heartbreaking, 5-4 loss to Oklahoma.
On Saturday evening, the Bears (29-24, 13-14) gave Smith and the Baylor Ballpark fans a reason to smile, taking advantage of more solid pitching to beat the Sooners (40-15, 14-11) in dramatic fashion, 3-2.
Junior Josh Ludy, who grounded out to end Friday’s game with the potential tying run on second, received a chance at redemption Saturday and knocked a game-winning, RBI single in the ninth that gave the Bears a series win over Oklahoma.
“There’s nothing better in the world than to see that. The adrenaline’s going; it’s just a good time,” Ludy said. “You’re just so happy you found a way to win the game.”
Ludy’s single drove in sophomore Steve DalPorto, who gapped a double to left center to lead off the ninth. DalPorto advanced to third on junior Josh Turley’s sacrifice bunt, laid down perfectly despite both the first baseman and third baseman charging on the play. Sophomore Max Muncy received an intentional walk, which set up Ludy’s game-winner.
After the team broke from its postgame huddle, Smith stood outside the dugout and joined the fans in applauding the team as it walked off the field.
“It’s always gratifying when you win, and it’s always gratifying when you beat a good club,” Smith said.
On the mound, juniors Brooks Pinckard and Trent Blank combined to hold Oklahoma to two runs on six hits and stranded 10 runners. Pinckard got the start, lasting five innings and allowing four hits before being pulled in the sixth with runners on the corners. Blank let both inherited runners score on a two-RBI single that tied the game, 2-2, but he kept the Sooners off the scoreboard from that point.
Oklahoma used four pitchers, with Ryan Duke pitching the final 1.2 innings and taking the loss.
Blank also overcame a 57-minute lightning delay that paused action with two outs in the seventh and the game tied at two apiece.
“I just kept the same mindset, competing, trying to throw strikes, letting [Oklahoma] put it in play and letting my defense work. Ludy did a great job calling the game today,” Blank said.
Baylor took an early lead in the second inning when junior Dan Evatt smashed his eighth home run of the year. Evatt sent a 3-1 fastball over left field and scored sophomore Logan Vick in the process.
“It was a fastball right down the middle, and I just turned on it. It felt good,” Evatt said.
Saturday’s game was huge for the Bears in terms of their NCAA tournament standing. At 29-24 overall and fifth place in the conference, Smith and his team feel great about their chances of postseason play regardless of the outcome at the upcoming Big 12 tournament.
“I think right now we’re the fifth place team in this league, our RPI’s going to be plenty good enough and our wins against the top-25 and top-50 are as good as anybody’s,” Smith said.
Big 12 tournament play begins on Wednesday, and the Bears will face the No. 4 seed, Oklahoma State, in their first game at 9 a.m.