Baseball wins A&M series with 1-0 shutout

No. 22 pitcher Trent Blank throws the ball on Saturday, March 24, 2012, at the Baylor Ballpark. Baseball shut out Kansas 9-0. Meagan Downing | Lariat Photographer

Bears return Sunday seeking Aggie sweep, Big 12-record 18 consecutive conference wins

By Greg DeVries
Sports writer

A record crowd of 5,911 came out to Baylor Ballpark to watch the No. 6 Bears take on the No. 2 Texas A&M Aggies. Baylor won their 23rd game in a row in a 1-0 pitchers duel.

Senior right-handed pitcher Trent Blank earned the win, reaching 9-0 on the year. The Bears is now 34-7 on the year, and 17-0 in Big 12 play.

“I think the crowd added everything to it. If we’re not going to play [Texas] A&M anymore, we sure better find somebody good to replace them on the schedule,” head coach Steve Smith said. “This is our all-time record crowd, and it’s against [Texas] A&M. Somebody is going to have to go out and find me somebody to play or else [the crowd is] going to have to start coming all the time.”

Freshman right fielder Adam Toth doubled down the right field line to start the bottom of the third inning. Junior designated hitter Nathan Orf singled to the shortstop to advance Toth to third with no outs. Sophomore second baseman Lawton Langford tapped a ball back to the pitcher that advanced Orf to second.

The Aggies opted to intentionally walk junior first baseman Max Muncy. This loaded the bases for senior catcher Josh Ludy, but Texas A&M’s plan paid off. Ludy grounded into a double play and the score remained 0-0.

Langford drew a walk to load the bases again in the bottom of the fifth. With Toth and Orf on third and second respectively, Muncy delivered an RBI sacrifice fly to center field that scored Toth and gave the Bears a 1-0 lead.

In the top of the sixth, Texas A&M had runners at second and third with one out. Junior third baseman Cal Towey fielded a routine ground ball, but decided to go for the risky play. He threw to home plate instead of first base, and it worked. The Bears prevented the run. Blank forced the final batter to pop out to shallow right field, and escaped the inning with no damage done.

In the top of the ninth inning, junior right-handed pitcher Max Garner took the mound for Blank. Blank pitched eight innings, allowed just one run on four hits, and recorded six strikeouts.

“It felt like somebody else was behind me, so I just want to thank God right now,” Blank said. “I want to thank these fans, I want to thank my teammates and family. It was amazing. [The crowd] felt great and I hope they keep coming out.”

Garner threw one inning, allowed just one hit, and earned the save. He struck out the final batter to end the game and seal the victory for the Bears.

“I love it. It was an incredible atmosphere. It was something to see. It’s the best I’ve seen in four years here,” Garner said. “There is a lot of adrenalin, but once you’re out there, it is still the same 60 feet, and you have to think about it like that.”

The Bears will take on Texas A&M again at home Sunday, with the opening pitch at 2:05 p.m.