Baseball’s strong recovery not enough in 8-7 loss

No. 22 senior pitcher Trent Blank beats the batter to first to get an out against Sam Houston State on Tuesday at Baylor Ballpark. The Bears won 6-2. Matthew McCarroll | Lariat Photographer

The Baylor baseball team lost a nail-biter to the Lamar University Cardinals 8-7. This closes out the QTI Baylor Classic for the Bears. The Bears dropped both games to Lamar, but they were able to beat the University of California-Irvine twice.

“It’s not about who we play that’s of a concern at all,” head coach Steve Smith said. “That’s not an issue.”

Lamar was able to jump out to an early lead for the second time in as many days against the Bears. The Cardinals recorded five runs, including two on a home run to right field by catcher Thomas Henk.

An RBI sacrifice fly in the top of the fifth inning by second baseman David Harris extended Lamar’s lead to 6-0.

“They were swinging the bat. They swung the bat good,” head coach Steve Smith said. “The first inning [had] a lot of parts…that bothered me in terms of how it was going about. But really if we just play the game the rest of the way, we come back.”

The Bears got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the fifth when freshman right fielder Michael Howard crossed home plate during a double play. Later in the inning, sophomore second baseman Lawton Langford scored on junior left fielder Nathan Orf’s single up the middle making the score 2-6.

The Cardinals responded in the top of the sixth inning by adding another run. The run came on a balk by junior right-handed pitcher Miles Landry after the ball fell out of his hand in the beginning of his release.

In the bottom of the sixth inning, Howard drove in junior first baseman Max Muncy after reaching on a fielder’s choice. The next batter, junior shortstop Jake Miller, hit a sacrifice fly to right field that scored senior catcher Josh Ludy from third, cutting Lamar’s lead to three runs, 7-4.

With two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning, junior third baseman Cal Towey singled up the middle. While Muncy was at the plate, Towey stole second by carefully avoiding the tag from Lamar’s middle infielder. Muncy’s RBI single to right field drove Towey in to score from second.

A wild pitch by junior left-handed pitcher Crayton Bare in the top of the eighth scored Cardinal Jud Vidrine.

In the bottom of the eighth inning, junior center fielder Logan Vick drew a leadoff walk. Howard then hit a sharp RBI triple down the right field line scoring Vick and making the score 8-6. Howard scored on the next play on a sacrifice fly from Miller to deep right field.

“I’ve always been told, ‘just go as hard as you can until they stop you,’ and that’s what I did. They didn’t stop me from going to third, so I just took it,” Howard said.

Junior right-handed pitcher Kolt Browder was given the call in the top of the ninth for the Bears. Browder struck out the first two batters and forced the third to ground out to second.

Baylor entered the bottom of the ninth inning down 8-7. With two outs and a full count, Muncy was hit by the pitch. After freshman Adam Toth replaced Muncy on the base path, Ludy drew a walk. Sophomore Josh Michalec pinch ran for Ludy. Vick struck out looking at the 2-2 pitch to end the game at 8-7.

“The guys played hard on offense. We didn’t get a lot of hits,” Smith said. “We couldn’t get a big hit, but we got a bunch of walks. Hopefully we can mature some and play the game a little cleaner.”

Baylor’s next home game will be on March 7 against Michigan State at 6:35 p.m.