By Greg DeVries
The winning streak stays alive after a close call Wednesday night at Baylor Ballpark.
Baylor baseball withstood a Louisiana-Monroe surge in the top of the ninth inning to win their 16th game in a row. The Bears move to 27-7 on the season.
The Warhawks scored first for the second game in a row against the Bears. Warhawk Les Aulds scored from third on a sacrifice fly to deep left field in the top of the first inning.
The Bears did not stay down for long, though. An RBI single through to right field by junior center fielder Logan Vick tied the game at 1-1 in the bottom of the first.
Senior designated hitter Dan Evatt hit a similar groundball that put the Bears ahead 2-1. With his single in the first, Evatt now has a 10-game hitting streak, which ties a career long. Junior shortstop Jake Miller followed with an RBI groundout to second, and the Bears ended the first inning up 3-1.
Max Muncy doubled to begin the bottom of the third inning for Baylor. He was driven home by Vick on the next at bat to extend the Bears’ lead to 4-1.
The Warhawks added two runs in the top of the fourth inning to pull within one of the Bears.
A Brandon Alexander single to right field scored the two runs, prompting a Baylor pitching change.
Freshman right-handed pitcher Austin Stone was pulled for sophomore right-handed pitcher Dylan Newman with two outs in the top of the fourth. Stone pitched 3.2 innings and allowed three runs on three hits.
Baylor added cushion back to the lead in the bottom of the fourth. Freshman left fielder Michael Howard scored from second on sophomore catcher Nate Goodwin’s RBI single over the shortstop’s head.
Howard single-handedly added another run for the Bears after stealing third base and advancing home on a throwing error on Louisiana-Monroe’s catcher. He finished the game 4 of 4 and scored three runs.
“It does feel great. Coming off of not playing a lot, it kind of motivated me to get things going,” Howard said. “[To] just relax, have fun, and hit the ball is always what I’ve been taught to do.”
With a 6-3 lead going into the top of the seventh inning, sophomore right-handed pitcher Trae Davis took the mound for Newman. Newman pitched 2.1 innings and only allowed one hit and no runs.
“[Newman] finished better than he started, which I liked,” Smith said. “He was not as sharp as he could be, but the last inning out there, he was.”
Davis pitched two innings and also allowed just one hit and no runs.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, junior third baseman Cal Towey singled to shallow-right field with the bases loaded. Two runs scored, giving the Bears an 8-3 lead, and Towey took second base on the throw to the plate.
The Warhawks added runs in the top of the ninth on a fielder’s choice and an RBI groundout. An RBI single to left field scored two and pulled the score to 8-7 in favor of the Bears, but it was too little too late. Baylor closed out the inning and the game with a groundout.Junior right-hander Max Garner earned the save in the ninth inning.
“We’re just having a lot of fun. Everyone is just relaxed. You can tell we’re all having fun in the dugout,” Towey said. “It’s easy to keep coming out here and getting on a roll when you’re doing that.”
The Bears will next head to Manhattan, Kan., to take on Kansas State in a three-game series. The first game of the series will be on Friday.