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No. 13 Bears Squeak by Illinois-Chicago 5-4

March 1, 2008

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WACO, Texas -- Ben Booker's two-out, two-run triple keyed a four-run seventh as No. 13 Baylor rallied past Illinois-Chicago for a 5-4 victory in Saturday's second-day action at the third-annual QTI Baylor Classic. The win gives Baylor (6-0) its best start since the 1993 Bears opened with seven straight wins. In the day's first game, Stephen F. Austin (4-3) defeated Illinois (2-3) 8-7 in a game that ended with the potential game-tying runner thrown out at the plate.


The Bears have won four one-run games in the season's first six games. Last season, Baylor was 4-5 in one-run games and did not earn its fourth win until the season's 59th game - a 7-6 victory over Oklahoma at the Big 12 Conference Championship. Baylor also has won 10 consecutive home games dating back to last season; it is the Bears' longest home winning streak since a 14-game run during the 2006 and 2007 seasons.


Baylor trailed 3-1 and had just one hit - a fourth-inning Landis Ware single - entering the seventh. Adam Hornung reached on an error to start the inning, and Dustin Dickerson followed with a walk. Gregg Glime's sacrifice bunt moved the runners to second and third, and Paul Miles followed with an RBI single to right. After Ware struck out, Booker laced a 3-2 pitch off the base of the centerfield wall to give Baylor a 4-3 lead. Shaver Hansen followed with an RBI single to right-center, plating Booker with what proved to be the game-deciding run.


Illinois-Chicago (1-4) made things interesting in the ninth, scoring an unearned run on two hits and a Baylor error. The Flames had runners at second and third with two outs, but Nick Cassavechia got Ty Rubio to ground out to end the game.


Craig Fritsch (1-0) earned the victory in relief, allowing one walk with one strikeout in 1.0 scoreless inning. Cassavechia was touched for an unearned run on a walk and two strikeouts over the final 2.0 innings for his third save of the season. Starter Shawn Tolleson allowed three runs on five hits and a walk with three strikeouts over 6.0 innings but did not factor in the decision.


Steve McGuiggan led off the game with a home run just to the left of the batter's eye on the game's second pitch. Illinois-Chicago pushed its lead to 3-0 in the fifth on Tony Altavilla's two-out, two-run single up the middle. Baylor got on the board in the sixth without getting a hit. Shaver Hansen and Beamer Weems drew consecutive two-out walks and each advanced a base on a wild pitch. Hansen then scored when reliever Chris Kovacevich was called for a balk.


Kovacevich (0-2) took the tough-luck loss, allowing four unearned runs on three hits and a walk with one strikeout over 1.1 innings. Starter Miramontes held the Baylor bats at bay for 5.2 innings; he allowed one run on one hit and three walks with two strikeouts.


Play concludes Sunday in the QTI Baylor Classic. Illinois-Chicago faces Illinois at 11 a.m. CST, while Baylor meets Stephen F. Austin at 3 p.m. The Bears send right-hander Willie Kempf (1-0, 1.80 ERA) to the mound. SFA counters with right-hander Erich Lehmann (0-0, 2.70 ERA).


NOTES:  This was the first-ever meeting between Baylor and Illinois-Chicago. It also was Baylor's first-ever game against a team from the Horizon League. ... Baylor has won five consecutive home games in which the opponent scored in the first inning. ... The Bears' four hits were the fewest in a nine-inning Baylor win since March 15, 2005, when the Bears had three hits in a 4-3 victory over TCU. ... Ware (six games) and Booker (four games) both extended hitting streaks, while Aaron Miller (five games), Adam Hornung (four games) and Glime (three games) all ended streaks. ... Booker's triple was the ninth of his career, all coming at Baylor Ballpark.


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