March 9, 2013
WACO, Texas - Baylor came out on the wrong end of a series finale doubleheader against Illinois on Saturday at Baylor Ballpark, losing an 11-inning 5-4 decision and then falling 6-1 in the night cap.
The two losses marked the first time the Bears (7-9) have been swept in a home non-conference doubleheader since 2000, when Oral Roberts did so on March 11 that season. The Illini (10-4) also handed BU its first home non-conference sweep since March 5-7, 2004, when UC Irvine completed the feat.
"At the end of the day, we played these guys three times and they beat us three times," said BU Head Coach Steve Smith. "We actually got two outstanding pitching performances. We were kind of feast or famine defensively. We made some big-time plays and then had some errors throwing-wise that cost us. Today, mainly out on the mound we walked a few guys. I give credit to Illinois. As I walk away from it, I don't like the way we necessarily played but the things you can control are catching it, throwing it and pitching it. We weren't good on the whole doing that. We are going to have to keep getting better and solve some of our problems on the mound."
In the first game of the day, Baylor answered Illinois' unearned run in the first inning with two runs in the bottom half. Cal Towey doubled home the first run, and after a Duncan Wendel single, Adam Tothdrove in the second on a sacrifice fly.
Two innings later, the Illini took advantage of BU starter Max Garnertrying to dial in as four hits in the frame led to a pair of runs. But again, BU answered in the bottom half to tie it up on a Towey stolen base, Illini throwing error on the steal and balk.
To start the fourth, Grayson Portersmashed a liner over the left field fence and into the soccer field to put Baylor ahead 4-3. The hit was Porter's second career hit and first career homer.
Garner then dialed in and retired seven straight hitters en route to posting zeroes in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings. In a career-long nine-inning effort, his only mistake after the third inning was a pitch to Thomas Lindauer in the first at-bat of the seventh as he homered to left to tie the game.
Baylor's best chance to win came in the eighth with two outs. Toth started the rally by reaching on a throwing error and Porter moved him to second on a single. Mitch Pricecame into pinch-hit but struck out swinging.
"Grayson did a good job," Smith said. "I put him in there because he's been swinging the bat well in batting practice. He hadn't had a hit all year, but he has a little juice in his bat and the wind was blowing out today. We got the home run out of him, which was certainly good. And he had a really good two-strike at-bat to push the go-ahead run to second base. He gave us some nice at-bats."
In the 11th, the Illini hit three two-out singles off Kolt Browderto score the winning run and Reid Roper earned his second save (3) of the series to close out the Baylor 11th.
Tyler Jay (1-1) earned the win in relief by posting 3.1 scoreless innings and allowing one hit with four strikeouts. Browder (0-1) took the loss after throwing two innings and allowing the run on three hits with one strikeout. Garner took a no-decision, allowing four runs (three earned) on seven hits and three walks and racked up all four strikeouts on the last for batters he faced over his nine innings.
In the second game, Illinois jumped on top of Baylor right away by scoring three runs in the first and one in the second. Two singles, two walks and a wild pitch from BU starter Austin Stoneled to the first inning runs. A hit-by-pitch, walk and Stone throwing error on a potential double-play ball handed the Illini their run on the second.
From there, Illinois starter John Kravetz frustrated the Baylor bats and was given a 6-0 lead as he threw eight innings before the Bears scored off him. BU's tally came after Kravetz hit the first two batters of the ninth. Illinois then went to relieve Ronnie Muck, who gave up two-out walks to Nathan Orf and Logan Brownto force in Baylor's only run of the game. With Muck seemingly struggling, Towey stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and a chance to make the game very interesting but he went down swinging.
Kravetz (2-0) earned the win, allowing one run on three hits and three walks with two strikeouts in eight innings. Stone (0-2) took the loss after surrendering four runs (three earned) on three hits and three walks with two strikeouts in three innings.
"It's interesting what will trigger some things," said Smith. "They get an infield hit to start both games today and it seemed to be a little bit of our undoing on the mound. Austin had a hard time executing. His stuff was good and that was easy to see."
The Bears wrap up their six-game home stand on Tuesday, March 12 against Houston at 6:35 p.m. CT before embarking upon a season-long nine-game road trip.