Story by DJ Ramirez | Sports Writer, Video by Elisabeth Tharp | Broadcast Sports Director
For the fifth time this season, Baylor baseball walked it off. The Bears defeated the Oklahoma Sooners 3-2 on Sunday to take their fourth straight conference series.
In the bottom of the 12th inning with two outs on the board and a runner on third, senior second baseman Josh Bissonette drove one through the gap into right field to win the game 3-2. After missing the opportunity to drive a couple runs in earlier in the game, there was no greater feeling for Bissonette than getting the walk-off hit.
“There really isn’t, and to be honest, this is my dad’s last time watching me play college baseball cause he’s leaving the country for three months, so it was really special,” Bissonette said. “I don’t love anyone more than this team, to be honest. I’ve never had this much fun playing baseball and I know that these guys have my back. There’s no greater feeling.”
The Bears opened the series with a 7-5 loss to Oklahoma but bounced back to even the series with a 7-3 win on Saturday.
Junior catcher Shea Langeliers had quite a weekend, leading Baylor at the plate with six hits and four runs and hitting homers in back-to-back games. The Keller native said he just needed to get comfortable at the plate.
“When I’m starting to get barrels going to the opposite field, I’m starting to feel pretty good at the plate and getting comfortable. My rhythm’s coming back as the pitcher’s throwing the pitch to me,” Langeliers said. “[Friday] night was kind of an emotional game for us. We were getting really intense there and when I did that, it kind of sparked the team a little bit and then we definitely brought it [Saturday].”
The mound belonged to junior transfer Paul Dickens and senior closer Kyle Hill who put on dominating performances against the Sooners. Dickens held Oklahoma’s offense scoreless for five innings in the Saturday match, allowing only two hits, walking one and striking out nine batters.
Head coach Steve Rodriguez said that Dickens’ ability to minimize walks against the Sooners was a big part of being able to win the game.
“He was able to go ahead and pound the zone like he did. He ran his pitch count up a little more than we wanted but the ability to go through five innings and be able to give us what he did…he did exactly what we needed him to do today,” Rodriguez said.
Hill got his fifth save on Saturday night, coming into the ninth inning to get Sooners pinch hitter Justin Mitchell to ground out into a double. But the veteran came back on Sunday ready to put in more work, pitching all three extra innings to earn the win. Hill allowed only one hit and struck out two, facing only 10 batters in his outing.
The Bears had a rough start with the loss on Friday night. After freshman first baseman Chase Wehsener put Baylor on the board in the bottom of the second, Oklahoma responded with five runs in the top of the third and added to their lead with runs in the fourth and fifth. Langeliers attempted to light a fire under Baylor’s offense after going scoreless for three innings by bashing the first pitch he saw in the sixth inning into Betty Lou Mays Soccer field, scoring junior designated hitter Andy Thomas in the process. The Bears scored two more in the eighth to cut the Sooners lead to two runs, but their rally fell short in the bottom of the ninth with the tying run at the plate.
Sophomore righty Jimmy Winston took the loss, making his second Friday start.But the defeat only served to push Baylor into a victory on Saturday.
The Bears got right to work with five runs on two homers in the first inning off the bats of junior third baseman Davis Wendzel and senior outfielder Cole Haring. Not to be left behind in the bombing race, Langeliers added a run in the fifth, going opposite field. Wendzel doubled off the right field wall in the sixth to score senior center fielder Richard Cunningham for run number seven.
The Sooners refused to go quietly and finally got on the board with a monster shot just inside the right field foul pole hit by designated hitter Cade Cavalli, who had pitched the night before earning the win. Sparked by Cavalli’s hit, Oklahoma put a couple runners on to bring junior backstop Brady Lindsly up to the plate. The catcher singled to right field to drive in a run and third baseman Brylie Ware followed with a fielder’s choice RBI.
The Bears shutdown the rally with a scoreless eighth and ninth and prepared to take the rubber match. According to Langeliers, they just had to bring the same energy from the Saturday win into the finale.
Sunday was the bullpen’s day as freshman righty Blake Helton, usually a reliever, got the start. Helton threw three scoreless, allowing only two hits and a run in the fourth before redshirt sophomore Daniel Caruso took over who also finished the day with same stats.
MCC transfer Logan Freeman made his Division I debut in the sixth inning. After starting off the season with an injury, the junior made a strong start out of the pen, going 1.2 innings with a strikeout, a walk and allowing only one hit. Junior relievers Ryan Leckich and Luke Boyd kept things scoreless for the rest of regulation play before Hill came in to close things out in extras.
Overall, Rodriguez said he was proud of the way his team is handling all aspects of the game from both the defensive and offensive side.
“The key is just don’t lose a game. Don’t make some foolish mistakes that will cost you a game. Sometimes we’ve done that, but right now we’re playing really well and I’m really happy with what are guys are doing,” Rodriguez said.
The Bears will host Sam Houston State on Tuesday night before heading up to Lubbock to continue conference play on Thursday night.