By Daniel Hill
In a classic pitching duel filled with late heroics, the Baylor Bears defeated the No. 8 Oklahoma Sooners 2-1 on Friday night. With the game tied 1-1 in the bottom of the ninth inning, Baylor’s first batter up at the plate, senior third baseman Cal Towey, hit a fastball deep to right field and the ball cleared the fence for an instant walk-off 2-1 win for the Bears.
“Once I saw he didn’t catch it, I felt pretty good,” Towey said. “I was just hoping that I didn’t hit it too high and he was going to bring it down.”
Baylor got to Oklahoma’s junior All-American pitcher Jonathan Gray immediately in the first inning. Junior second baseman Lawton Langford hit a ball hard to second base that bounced off of the fielder’s glove and out-hustled the throw to first and earn Baylor’s first hit of the night. Senior right fielder Nathan Orf drew a walk to put runners on first and second. With two outs, junior designated hitter Grayson Porter singled through the gap between the shortstop and third base to score Langford from second to give Baylor an early one-run advantage, 1-0.
From there, the pitchers took over and the game became a duel. Oklahoma’s Gray pitched eight innings and only allowed four hits, one earned run and struck out 10.
Junior right-handed pitcher Dillon Newman pitched eight and one-third innings for the Bears and only allowed only one earned run and six hits. Newman struck out five and didn’t concede a walk.
“Basically all five pitches,” Newman said. “Really when I was throwing first pitch strikes, it kept them off balance and I was able to locate all five pitches.”
After pitching eight innings of scoreless ball, Newman took the mound in the top of the ninth hoping to pull off the complete-game shutout. Oklahoma had other plans and started the inning with a single to center field from left fielder Hunter Haley. Oklahoma’s next batter, shortstop Jack Mayfield, put down a sacrifice bunt to move Haley to second base. OU center fielder Craig Aiken hit a high popped up fly down the right field line that hit the ground before Baylor senior right fielder Nathan Orf had a chance to make the catch. The hit allowed Haley to score from second base to tie the game 1-1. Newman kept trying to finish the ninth but Oklahoma right fielder Max White got the third hit of the inning to put runners on first and second.
After OU’s third hit of the ninth inning, Newman was pulled after eight and one-third inning of allowing just one run, and senior left-handed pitcher Crayton Bare came on the get the final two outs for the Bears to send the game to the bottom of the ninth.
“That’s huge,” Bare said. “Dylan was pitching so well, I wish he had gotten the win. Pitching against OU and seeing them so many times last year and not being able to get a win, but tonight was nice to scratch one across and to be able to win like that was huge for us and getting a Friday night win like that and going into the rest of the weekend to try to get a series win like that will be awesome.”
In the ninth, Towey ended the game on the third pitch he saw as he skied the ball high into the night sky. The ball carried just over the right field fence and the Bears rushed to home plate to greet Towey as he circled the bases for the winning run.
“Unbelievable game,” head coach Steve Smith said. “It started with just an unbelievably great day today weather wise, and the ball park has never looked this good. The surface is just phenomenal and then you get two teams that get to compete on it and a great crowd, it was an extremely well played game with it’s share of drama.”
The Bears and Sooners meet again at Baylor Ballpark tomorrow at 3:05 p.m. and once more on Sunday at 1:05 p.m.
“Tomorrow, we just want to come out and do the same thing and get another win,” Towey said. “We are facing a good pitcher again tomorrow so we’d like to do the same thing. It’ll probably be low scoring again.”