By Daniel Hill
The Baylor Bears defeated the Texas Longhorns 1-0 Saturday night at Baylor Ballpark and are looking to go for the three-game series sweep in tomorrow’s matinee game.
Sophomore starting right-handed pitcher Austin Stone took the mound for the Bears and pitched six scoreless frames and only allowed four hits. Stone also struck out a career-high 10 batters, which is also the most strikeouts that any Baylor pitcher has had so far this year. Stone was in complete control and only yielded three base on balls.
“There were some innings where I thought I was out there a little bit longer than I thought I should have been,” Stone said. “I kind of fell behind in the counts and came back and just battled. I elevated a lot with the fastball and just kept on pounding the fastball. My main thing when I get out there is to just try to get three outs without them scoring. Just take it one pitch at a time and pound the zone and let them do their own thing because the odds are in my favor most of the time.”
Stone’s counterpart from Texas, left-handed pitcher Dillon Peters, also had an exceptional outing. Peters pitched seven innings and only conceded one run to the Bears.
“I thought Austin was really good,” Baylor head coach Steve Smith said. “It was impressive what he did today. The room for error was none. Peters was really good and so methodical.”
In such a close game, any single play can tip the scale in favor of the victor. The only run scored in the entire game was when Baylor forced the bases loaded in the bottom of the fourth inning.
To leadoff the frame, sophomore designated hitter Duncan Wendel worked the count to earn a walk. Then senior first baseman Steve DalPorto broke through with a single to right field. Sophomore center fielder Adam Toth singled with a drag bunt to load the bases. With two outs and with the bases loaded, junior second baseman Lawton Langford had a patient at-bat and earned a walk on a full count pitch that was too close for comfort. With the bases loaded, Langford’s walk drove in the decisive run of the game to score Wendel to give the Bears a 1-0 victory.
“He took a borderline pitch,” Smith said. “I didn’t think the pitch was a strike, it hadn’t been called a strike. It’s one of those pitches that can go either way. It’s just a game but when you play them that close, all kinds of things the game can turn on them. You don’t want to play them that close. That’s the way that both teams are in the same kind of situation then and are very vulnerable to breaks and bad luck, calls or missed calls, just anything can win or lose the ball game.”
Langford agreed that the pitch was probably too close to take with a full count.
“It was probably a little too close to take but I thought I saw it down a little bit lower than it was and he called it a ball so it worked out good,” Langford said.
After Stone left the game, junior right-handed pitcher Josh Michalec pitched two scoreless innings and then senior left-handed pitcher Crayton Bare came on for the save. Bare struck out two batters with curve balls to set the victory in stone.
“Well, it really was Austin who threw a great game,” Bare said. “He put the ball in play and didn’t allow a score. We had a lot of opportunities but we only needed one. Josh competed well and with all of that happening, I was just able to do my thing and I felt pretty comfortable. It wasn’t a new situation and I felt really prepared. So I just went through my same routine like I do every day and I got out there and just competed in the zone and good things happened.”
On Saturday night, the Bears played their cards to perfection to walk away with a 1-0 victory and preserve the opportunity to sweep Texas when the two teams meet for the third and final time in this series Sunday at 2 p.m. at Baylor Ballpark.
“It’s a real nice feeling just going in and getting two wins,” Stone said. “We are going to try to sweep them tomorrow. That’s our plan and then just being able to do that is just a step in the process and that’s our main goal.”
Sophomore right-handed pitcher Ryan Smith will be the starting pitcher tomorrow for the Bears as they look to seal the deal with a sweep against Texas.