By Greg DeVries
Baylor baseball has continued to claw its way up the standings. The Bears have reached the No. 6 overall ranking according to Baseball America, and the latest victim in their 19-game winning streak was the Kansas State Wildcats.
The Bears completed their sweep of Kansas State on Sunday. Baylor won the first game 5-2 on the shoulders, or rather, the arm of junior left-handed pitcher Josh Turley.
Turley pitched his second complete game of his career and moved to 5-0 with the win. He notched six strikeouts, allowed six hits and just one earned run.
“He was really, really good. He threw four [types of] pitches for strikes and threw a lot of strikes,” head coach Steve Smith said. “They put the ball on the ground, and it’s a tough matchup for him, but he did a great job with it and just kept throwing strike after strike.”
Junior first baseman Max Muncy led the Bears on the offensive side. Muncy finished with three hits, including a home run and two doubles that drove in two runs.
Senior catcher Josh Ludy finished with two hits and two RBIs. Ludy’s single in the seventh inning drove in the two runs that broke the 2-2 tie.
Baylor and Kansas State began Saturday’s game at 1 p.m. After five innings, the Bears trailed 10-4. A four-run rally in the sixth inning brought the score to 10-8, but the game was postponed until Sunday while Baylor had runners at the corners.
When the game did finally resume, the Bears added one more run in the top of the sixth inning to cut the lead to one.
In the top of the seventh inning, freshman outfielder Michael Howard singled to drive in the tying run. Howard went 4 of 5 on the day and scored twice.
Junior designated hitter Nathan Orf followed with a three-run homer to left field.
The Wildcats added two runs in the bottom of the seventh to cut the Bears’ lead to 14-12, but Baylor was able to contain the damage. Junior right-handed pitcher Max Garner sealed the victory, pitching the final two innings without allowing a hit.
“Obviously this was a hitters’ day today, which makes it miserable for coaches and pitchers, because you know a lead is never safe,” Smith said. “There’s nothing in baseball more difficult than winning in extra innings on the road, and we got it done.”
In the final game of the series, the Bears jumped out to an early 1-0 lead only to allow five runs in the second inning.
Ludy cut the Wildcat lead to two after hitting his first home run of the day with one runner on base. Baylor added three more runs in the fourth inning. Outfielder Logan Vick, Orf and junior shortstop Jake Miller all scored in the inning, giving the Bears a 6-5 lead.
Ludy started the fifth inning with a solo home run — his second of the day. Baylor’s lead was short-lived, however. Kansas State added three runs of its own in the bottom of the fifth and one more in the bottom of the sixth to take a 9-7 lead.
The Bears mounted a comeback in the eight inning after Orf was hit by a pitch and second baseman Lawton Langford walked. Ludy followed with a home run over the right field fence, his third home run of the day. The next batter, junior third baseman Cal Towey, hit a solo shot over the right field fence.
Baylor took an 11-9 lead, but Kansas State would tie and send the game into extra innings.
In the top of the 11th inning, Howard homered down the right field line to give the Bears a 12-11 lead. Baylor would hang on in the bottom of the inning to seal the deal.
“It was as competitive as it could’ve possibly been,” Smith said. “I think the world of the K-State club, because they competed so hard and made things so difficult on us, but then I think just as much of our guys. Our guys played hard, both teams played extremely hard, and it’s as good of a win as I can remember in a very long time.”
The Bears will take on Texas A&M Corpus Christi at 6:35 p.m. today at Baylor Ballpark