Bears drop Big 12 tourney opener, face UT Friday

Associated Press - Oklahoma State's Dane Phillips, left, slides into home plate to score ahead of Baylor catcher Josh Ludy, right, in the sixth inning of a Big 12 Conference baseball tournament game Wednesday in Oklahoma City. Oklahoma State won 6-2.

By Chris Derrett
Editor in chief

Baylor starter Logan Verrett was brilliant through five innings today against Oklahoma State, but the Cowboys’ explosive 6th inning was too much for the Bears as they fell, 6-2.

The loss sends Baylor (29-25, 13-14) to the Big 12 tournament losers’ bracket to face Texas at 9 a.m. Friday while Oklahoma State (35-21, 14-12) advances to play Missouri at 4 p.m. Friday.

“For us, the game was lost on the defensive side and baserunning,” head coach Steve Smith said. “I thought Logan was really sharp, even in the inning where [Oklahoma State] scored.

Verrett had a no-hitter through five innings before the Cowboys struck in the sixth. Verrett lost his bid on Zach Johnson’s single then gave up a walk and three straight singles, the last landing just off the tip of sophomore second baseman Steve DalPorto’s outstretched glove. That hit tied the game at two and left the bases loaded.

It looked like Verrett might escape the inning with only two runs allowed, but DalPorto committed a fielding error, bobbling Hunter Bailey’s bases-loaded grounder to let in another two.

Verrett admitted feeling frustration with bloop hits and errors costing his team, but he was not disappointed with his performance.

“I felt like I had a couple batters there where I was overthrowing a little bit, but I felt like I made some pretty good pitches,” Verrett said.

Verrett went 5.2 innings and conceded four hits in 90 pitches.

Baylor quickly knocked Oklahoma State starter Mike Strong out of the game in the third after senior Chris Slater singled, sophomore Max Muncy doubled and junior Joey Hainsfurther singled for a 2-0 lead.

The Bears, however, felt like they let several opportunities slip against the Cowboys’ bullpen. Reliever Hunter Herrera got the win, holding the Bears scoreless over 6.1 innings on five hits.

“I think we did a good job of taking good at-bats early on in the game, and later on it just felt like a downhill slope, not taking good at-bats,” Hainsfurther said.

Baylor brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth, but its struggle to seize chances continued as junior Josh Ludy popped out to shortstop and junior Dan Evatt grounded to end the game.

In the seventh, Muncy drew a two-out walk and Ludy singled to put runners at the corners, but Evatt struck out. The seventh inning added two runners to Baylor’s total of 11 stranded in the game, and in the fifth and sixth, the Bears were doubled off on lineouts to end the inning.

The Bears also squandered sophomore Jake Miller’s second-inning, one-out triple and could not score with runners on second and third and two outs in the first.

“It was frustrating to come out and play the baseball that we did today, honestly,” Hainsfurther said.

Before the sixth inning trouble, Verrett saw a few scares but held command over Oklahoma State.

Senior Landis Ware’s third-inning throwing error saddled Verrett with his first baserunner. Verrett walked the next batter, but a flyout and strikeout kept a zero on the board. Verrett also walked two runners in the fifth before getting a flyout and strikeout to end that threat.

If the Bears want to stay alive, they will have to do something no other team has done this season – beat Longhorn starter Taylor Jungmann. Jungmann is 12-0 with a 0.95 ERA and is expected to start Friday’s game.

In their tournament-opening, 6-4 loss to Missouri today, the Longhorns elected to use mostly relief pitchers instead of Jungmann, who is regarded as the staff’s ace. Hoby Milner was the only Texas pitcher used today who has started a conference game for his team.