By Greg DeVries
No. 25 Baylor baseball was four outs away from a no-hitter as it improved to 4-0 on the season, defeating the No. 15 TCU Horned Frogs Tuesday by a score of 7-1 in front of a crowd of nearly 2,800 at Baylor Ballpark.
The winning pitcher was senior right-hander Trent Blank (2-0).
The Bears opened the scoring early. A sacrifice fly to left-center field from junior center fielder Logan Vick put the Bears up 1-0 in the first inning. Junior designated hitter Nathan Orf scored the run.
The Bears’ offense continued its success in the second inning. Junior shortstop Jake Miller scored from third base on a passed ball by TCU pitcher Brandon Finnegan. Baylor extended its lead to 2-0.
“The team that scores first wins a high percentage of the games. I think the biggest thing was getting the four in the bottom of the eighth. That changes the game a little bit in how you manage it,” head coach Steve Smith said.
After stalling in the third inning, the Bears picked the scoring back up in the fourth inning. Sophomore pinch hitter Lawton Langford scored from second on junior third baseman Cal Towey’s single to center field.
Baylor made a pitching change heading into the fifth inning. After pitching four hitless innings, senior right-handed pitcher Trent Blank handed the ball to junior right-hander Kolt Browder.
Browder was pulled in the top of the eighth inning. He threw three hitless innings before senior right-handed pitcher Joey Hainsfurther took the mound. The Horned Frogs finally got their first hit of the game with two outs in the eighth inning.
“You try not to think about [the no-hitter],” Hainsfurther said. “Honestly, I hadn’t thought about it until somebody down in the bullpen thought it was smart to say in the seventh inning, ‘Hey, they don’t have any hits yet, do [they]?’ I don’t think that helped much, but they were battling at the plate so you had to think that one was going to come eventually.”
In the bottom of the eighth inning, freshman right fielder Adam Toth scored on a passed ball. Senior catcher Josh Ludy then hit a single to right field that scored two runs.
After the Bears loaded the bases again, freshman left-fielder Michael Howard drew an RBI walk to make the score 7-0.
“I’ve been seeing the ball pretty well,” Ludy said. “And [I am] just trying to be patient with the situation and understand what they’re trying to … get out of me, and understand where the fielders are playing and trying to adjust to that.”
A sacrifice fly by TCU’s third baseman scored the first run of the game for the Horned Frogs in the top of the ninth inning. This run was the first allowed by the Baylor bullpen this season.
Langford had his first career three-hit game. He had a double and also scored a run. The 4-0 start is Baylor’s best start in four years.
The Bears travel to play Texas State at 6:30 p.m. today in Round Rock.