By Nathan Keil | Sports Editor
Baylor baseball scored seven runs over the final two innings, taking advantage of five miscues by the Raiders and some friendly infield bounces as the Bears staved off elimination with an 11-5 win over Wright State.
The Bears got four runs on seven hits off Wright State redshirt senior closer Derek Hendrixson (2-3) while inducing a pair of Raider errors in the frame to gain control over the Stanford regional’s No. 4 seed.
After watching a 4-1 lead turn into a 4-4 tie heading into the eighth, Baylor sophomore catcher Shea Langeliers led the charge against Hendrixson.
On a 1-0 fastball, Langeliers tattooed the ball to the wall in left-center as the Keller native legged out a leadoff two-bagger.
But it was freshman outfielder Davion Downey’s at bat that changed the complexion of the game for good and began to unravel the Horizon League champions.
After a brief conversation with head coach Steve Rodriguez, Downey did a fake bunt, and slapped a ground ball that tipped off the edge of Hendrixson’s glove and rolled toward shortstop.
Hendrixson then fielded it and fired wide right of home, allowing Downey to get to second and Langeliers to score easily as the Bears grabbed a 5-4 lead.
After a sacrifice bunt moved Downey to third, junior second baseman Josh Bissonette singled to left, driving in a run despite being thrown at second base, increasing the lead to 6-4.
Singles by senior outfielder Levi Gilcrease, freshman shortstop Nick Loftin and redshirt junior outfielder Richard Cunningham loaded the bases for sophomore third baseman Davis Wendzel, who laced a two-run single to left, making it 8-4.
Then in the ninth, Langeliers reached on an error, Downey singled to left, junior outfielder Cole Haring singled on a groundball that ricocheted off the pitcher, scoring a run.
Bissonette then singled in Baylor’s 10th run of the game past a drawn in infield and Loftin’s fielder’s choice ground ball capped off the scoring for Baylor.
After three scoreless innings by junior Kyle Hill (3-2), who earned the victory, Wright State scored one in the ninth as the Raiders finish the season 39-17.
Before its rally in the final two frames, Baylor got into a good rhythm early on, scoring one in the first and second and two in the fourth off redshirt sophomore starter Caleb Sampen.
In the first, Cunningham and Wendzel hit back-to-back doubles to get on the board with a 1-0 lead.
Horizon League Player of the Year, redshirt senior first baseman Gabe Snyder answered with an RBI double of his own off Baylor sophomore Hayden Kettler.
With two outs in the second, junior outfielder T.J. Raguse singled to right, scoring Downey who walked to open the inning for a 2-1 lead.
The in the fourth, Haring singled and was moved on a Bissonette sacrifice bunt. Raguse reached and Haring scored on a Wright State throwing error for a 3-1 lead. Loftin then made it 4-1 with an RBI double into the left field corner.
Sampen settled in after the fourth, tossing three shutout innings, and only allowing two more Baylor base runners as Wright State fought back to tie the game at four.
Sampen threw 116 pitches in seven innings, allowing four runs, but only three earned, on six hits with three walks and six strikeouts.
The Raiders chipped away getting runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth off Kettler.
Snyder led off the fourth with a ground-rule double to left and scored on a sacrifice fly.
In the fifth, junior catcher Brandon Giltrow doubled into the corner and scored on an RBI single by junior left-fielder JD Orr, making it 4-3.
Finally, in the sixth, redshirt freshman designated hitter Zane Harris doubled in Snyder to tie the game at four.
Kettler, lasted 5 2/3 innings, allowing four runs on six hits while walking three and striking out just one. The walks were costly for Kettler as two of the three scored and four of the six hits he allowed, were doubles.
But Hill, who struck out Giltrow to end the jam in the sixth, went 2 1/3, allowing just one hit while striking out three.
Sophomore Ryan Leckich allowed one run on two hits with one strikeout in the ninth.
Baylor (37-20) wins its first NCAA Tournament game under Rodriguez and the Bears will play the loser of Stanford and Cal-State Fullerton in another elimination game at 3 p.m. Sunday.