By Nathan Keil | Sports Editor
Baylor baseball saw its 2018 season come to an end Sunday afternoon at Sunken Diamond on the campus of Stanford University.
The Bears allowed four early runs and chipped away, but the rally fell short. Baylor fell 4-2 to No. 2 overall seed Stanford Cardinal.
The Cardinal did all its damage early off the freshman southpaw, Tyler Thomas (3-3). Thomas allowed his first home run of the season and failed to make it out of the second inning after allowing four runs.
Seniors Alex Phillips and Troy Montemayor, who finish tied for the program record in saves with 37, combined to pitch 6 2/3 shutout innings to give Baylor a chance.
Phillips retired the first 13 hitters he faced, allowing just two hits in 5 2/3 innings of relief. Phillips did not allow a walk and struck out three.
He also got some help from his defense in the fourth as junior Cole Haring went to the wall in center field, leapt and took extra bases away from Stanford junior outfielder Brandon Wulff.
Montemayor, who made his first appearance of the regional, pitched a perfect eighth inning, getting three fly consecutive fly outs to get Baylor up in the ninth.
Home runs by freshman outfielder Davion Downey in the sixth fifth inning and sophomore catcher Shea Langeliers in the seventh cut the lead to 4-2 as Baylor had the top of the order batting in the ninth.
Facing sophomore closer Jack Little, who entered with a 3-0 record and 0. 61 ERA, freshman shortstop Nick Loftin led off the frame and turned on a pitch and hit it well beyond the fence, but foul.
Loftin then singled to center to put the tying run on base.
Little came right back to strike out redshirt junior designated hitter Richard Cunningham and then struck out sophomore third baseman Davis Wendzel after falling behind 3-0.
Little then got sophomore first baseman Andy Thomas to fly out to center to end the game.
After four early runs, Stanford was limited to just two hits the rest of the game, but unfortunately for Thomas and the Bears, the damage had already been done.
In the first, after getting the first two Stanford hitters out via strikeout and routine fly ball, Thomas walked junior shortstop Nico Hoerner on a two strike breaking ball and then on the first pitch to Andrew Daschbach, the sophomore first baseman turned on a high fastball and drilled a two-run home run to left-center field as Stanford grabbed an early 2-0 lead.
The Cardinal kept the pressure on Thomas in the second. After Wulff drew a leadoff walk, sophomore designate hitter Will Matthiessen then hit an RBI triple off the wall in straight away center field, putting Stanford up 3-0.
After allowing his third walk, junior outfielder Alec Wilson hit a sacrifice fly to left, giving the Cardinal a 4-0 lead and forcing Baylor head coach Steve Rodriguez to pull his freshman lefty in favor of Phillips.
Freshman Brenden Beck (9-0) earned the win for the Cardinal, tossing 6 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on four hits without a walk and struck out one.
Freshman lefty Jacob Palisch pitched a clean 1 1/3 to get to Little, who worked around a leadoff single to earn his 16th save.
Stanford (46-11) advances to take on Cal-State Fullerton in the regional final at 6 p.m. Sunday.
Baylor finishes the season 37-21 after going 1-2 in the Stanford regional. Despite having seven players hailing from the state of California, the Bears finish just 2-4 in games played in California this season and 1-5 against California schools.
Baylor will say goodbye to seven seniors as well—relief pitchers, Phillips, Montemayor, Joe Heineman, Drew Robertson; outfielder Levi Gilcrease, who went 0-1 against Stanford; utility man Tucker Johnson and shortstop Tucker Cascadden.
The Bears continue to take big strides under Rodriguez, finishing fifth during the Big 12 regular season, but claimed its first ever Big 12 Conference Tournament last weekend in Oklahoma City, Okla.
Baylor will return its entire weekend rotation in sophomores, Cody Bradford and Hayden Kettler as well as Thomas. The Bears also will return all nine hitters in its day-to-day lineup in 2019.