Bears snag win with walk-off ninth inning hit

Baylor baseball defeated Incarnate Word on Wednesday night on a walk-off hit in the ninth inning.

The Bears (19-22) gave up a grand slam in the eighth inning after holding a lead most of the game but came back to beat the Cardinals (11-30).

“We were very consistent offensively, scoring a lot of runs,” Baylor head coach Steve Rodriguez said. “We got punched in the face a little bit with the grand slam, but we were able to get hits in the end.”

Senior reliever Kody Hessemer made his first start of the season and started off strong, allowing zero hits in the first two innings.

In the bottom of the second, Cardinals pitcher Denson Hull struggled, walking three of four batters before third baseman Steven McLean drove a single to left field to score two runs and give the Bears an early 2-0 lead.

To start the third, Hessemer walked Weston Pitts and then gave up a double to Trey Rodriguez, driving in Pitts to trim the lead to 2-1. Rodriguez then scored on a hit from Austin Hoffman to tie the game, but Hoffman was tagged out at second to end the inning.

In the bottom of the third, outfielder Darryn Sheppard hit a single up the middle on the first at bat. First baseman Aaron Dodson walked, and Sheppard scored after a hit by catcher Matt Menard went through the legs of the infielder as the Bears retook the lead 3-2.

To start the fourth, junior Nick Lewis replaced Hessemer on the mound. Hessemer finished the day having given up two hits and two runs in 3.0 IP.

In the fourth, shortstop Josh Bissonette was walked on the first at bat. Bissonette stole his way to third before outfielder Kameron Esthay hit a single to bring in Bissonette and make it a 4-2 game.

Menard and second baseman Justin Arrington walked to start the fifth, and a single by Bissonette scored Menard to bring the Baylor lead to 5-2.

Sheppard launched a single to left field in the sixth before Dodson also hit a shot to left, this time a double, to put runners on second and third. Menard popped a sacrifice fly to allow Sheppard to come home, putting the Bears up 6-2.

Junior Drew Robertson replaced Lewis at the mound in the seventh. Lewis finished with 3.0 IP, giving up two hits and zero runs.

“He’s been great the past couple outings,” Rodriguez said of Lewis. “I really like what we’re seeing out of him right now.”

In the bottom of the seventh, Bissonette and outfielder Richard Cunningham hit singles, and Bissonette scored when McLean launched a hit to right field, giving Baylor a 7-2 advantage.

To start the eighth for the Cardinals, Eddy Gonzalez sent a double down the right field line and scored a run on a double from Hoffman to make it a 7-3 game. Robertson continued to struggle, giving up a single and walking a player to load the bases.

As a result, Robertson was replaced by sophomore Joe Heineman. Heineman proceeded to give up a grand slam to Matt Morris as the Cardinals tied the game up 7-7.

Heineman recovered to end the inning and shut out the Cardinals in the top of the ninth, setting up the Baylor offense with a chance to win the game.

In the bottom of the ninth, Arrington hit a single to right field in the first at bat. Bissonette bunted to get pinch runner Ben Carl to second base.

Cunningham grounded out to first as Carl advanced to third base. McLean stepped up to the plate and delivered a hit to right to score Carl and win the game 8-7 for the Bears.

“I try to not put too much pressure on myself and understand the situation,” McLean said. “I was able to get the pitch and put it down.”

The Bears look to keep the momentum going as they hit the road this weekend to take on West Virginia in a three game conference series.