By Daniel Hill
In the second game of the weekend series, the Baylor Bears were defeated by the No. 8 Oklahoma Sooners 3-1 on Saturday at Baylor Ballpark. The Bears scored an early run in the second inning to take a 1-0 lead, but then the Sooners offense scored three runs over the last three innings to earn the 3-1 win and to tie the series at one game apiece.
Senior right-handed pitcher Max Garner started on the mound for the Bears and pitched six and one-third innings while giving up only two runs and four hits. Garner also struck out six and allowed only two walks.
Garner’s counterpart from Oklahoma, All-American Dillon Overton, cruised through eight innings of work and only allowed a single run off of six hits. The Bears stranded nine runners on base throughout the course of the game. When the Bears had runners on, Overton focused more and pitched better to silence Baylor’s scoring opportunities.
“He pitched well,” head coach Steve Smith said. “I did think that he was at his best with runners on base. His numbers for the year indicate that as well. That’s what the good ones do. You’re not going to get cookies or a lot of mistakes with runners in scoring position. You just need to be able to get it in play and we just weren’t able to do that. He did make some quality pitches. When you freeze a guy on an 0-2 count, you’re doing something right. I think he did a great job with the middle of our order really.”
Overton was dominant against the Bears, but senior right fielder Nathan Orf found success by going 3-3 with two singles, a double and a walk on the day.
“Overton’s a really good pitcher,” Orf said. “So I just tried to stay ahead of him early in the counts and keep it simple and try to hit it right back at him and go with a more simple approach and put the barrel on the ball so good things happen.”
In the bottom of the second inning, senior shortstop Jake Miller earned a walk from Overton and then senior first baseman Steve DalPorto singled to center field to advance Miller to third on a well-executed hit and run play. Junior catcher Brett Doe then hit a single into left field that fell to the ground in between Oklahoma’s shortstop, left fielder and center fielder. The two-out single from DalPorto scored Miller from third and Baylor took an early 1-0 lead.
In the top of the seventh, on of the best all-around hitters in the Big 12, Oklahoma designated hitter Matt Oberste, crushed a double to right field to gain some momentum for the Sooners. First baseman Kobley Carpenter put down a sacrifice bunt to move Oberste to third. Second baseman Hector Lorenzana singled to left to drive in Oberste and tie the game, 1-1.
After Oklahoma tied the game, Smith elected to go to the bullpen and junior right-handed pitcher Josh Michalec came into pitch for the Bears.
With only one out, Michalec gave up a single to Oklahoma catcher Anthony Hermelyn to right field which advanced Lorenzana to third. With runners on the corners, third basemen Garrett Carey hit a routine grounder to Baylor senior shortstop Jake Miller who mishandled the ground ball for an error. This play brought in Lorenzana from third to score and Oklahoma took a 2-1 lead.
In the top of the ninth, Michalec was still on the mound for the Bears. After an error from senior third basemen Cal Towey, Michalec hit the next batter to put runners on both first and second. Michalec struck out Hunter Haley and on the same pitch, junior catcher Brett Doe threw to second base to pick off Oklahoma pinch runner Justin Burba for a double play. With two outs, Michalec hit the next batter to put a runner on first with two outs.
“Just get the ball in play,” Smith said. “The difference in the game was just that I think, we struck out nine times and they got some balls in play with two strikes. They’ve got some guys that are really doing a good job of putting it in play in the middle of the order. It doesn’t always result in a hit but it’s moving runners and getting things done and then when you do put it in play, you’ve got a chance.”
Once again, Smith went to the bullpen and left-handed junior Doug Ashby came in to pitch. With an 0-2 count advantage, Ashby left a pitch over the plate and Oklahoma center fielder Craig Aiken singled to center to drive in another Oklahoma run to give the Sooners a 3-1 victory.
“We don’t need to be losing a series at home, it’s big,” Garner said. “They’re beatable. They’ve been having a good season and whatever but I don’t care about that, they’re beatable and we want to win.”
The third game and rubber match of the series takes place Sunday at 3:05 p.m. at Baylor Ballpark.