March 27, 2011
WACO, Texas - Jake Miller's RBI single in the bottom of the eighth scored Cal Towey with what would prove to be the game-winning run, as Baylor's 21st-ranked baseball team won the series against Kansas State with a 4-3 win on Sunday afternoon at Baylor Ballpark.
The Bears (16-8, 3-3 Big 12) have not lost consecutive games this season and are 8-0 following a loss. Baylor has posted a winning record in five of six weekends this season.
Kansas State (13-9, 1-5 Big 12) jumped out to a 2-0 lead with a pair of runs on four straight hits in the fourth inning, but the Bears responded with three runs in the fifth.
Steve DalPorto singled with one out, Brooks Pinckard followed with a single on a perfectly executed hit-and-run, and Chris Slater brought them both around to score with a triple down the left-field line. Slater hustled in to third when KSU left fielder Kent Urban slipped chasing the ball, and that proved crucial, as Slater scored on Max Muncy's infield single to give Baylor a 3-2 lead.
"There was one out, and if you can get to third base with one out and get (Max) Muncy to the plate then you've got a chance," head coach Steve Smith said. "Max doesn't have to get a hit. He hits a lot of fly balls. That's just making a great decision and being talented enough to make it happen."
BU starting pitcher Trent Blank left the game in line for the win after allowing two runs on five hits with two walks and two strikeouts in 5.0 innings of work, but he did not factor in the decision.
Jon Ringenberg came on in relief after Blank walked the leadoff man in the sixth, and Ringenberg worked his way out of the inning without allowing the tying run to score.
Max Garner came out of the bullpen to start the seventh and allowed a leadoff single to Tanner Witt, whole moved into scoring position by stealing second base.
Garner struck out the next batter, but Jason King ripped a single to right-field that would've tied the game, but Cal Towey threw a strike to the plate to nail Witt, who was ejected after running over Baylor catcher Josh Ludy.
Witt and King each had three hits to lead KSU at the plate, while Pinckard, Muncy and Towey had two hits apiece for the Bears.
The Wildcats broke through to tie the game in the eighth. Garner retired the first two batters in the inning on groundouts, but a pair of two-out walks proved costly after a balk moved both runners into scoring position and Jake Brown hit a 3-2 pitch into left field for a game-tying RBI single.
Pinckard moved from center field to the mound and walked Luke White to load the bases, but Nick Martini's sharp grounder bounced off Pinckard's ankle and over to Muncy at first base, who stepped on the bag for the final out of the inning.
KSU reliever Evan Marshall got the first two outs in the eighth on groundouts, but Towey reached on an infield single and moved to second base on a wild throw. Miller hit the first pitch he saw through the left side of the infield to score Towey with the winning run.
Marshall (2-2) took the loss after allowing an unearned run on two hits in 1.2 innings, while Pinckard (2-1) picked up the win with 1.1 innings of scoreless relief.
K-State threatened in the ninth when King reached on an infield single and moved to second on a groundout. Wade Hinkle drew a walk to put the go-ahead run on base, but Pinckard got Shane Conlon to ground into a double play to end the game.
"Today was just a great example of a team being both lucky and good," Smith said. "We played well, but clearly we got a huge break there in the eighth inning and the top of the ninth. That's the only way you can describe that. That's baseball. That's why you play a bunch of games."
The Bears conclude their 14-game homestand with a pair of midweek games against teams from the Southland Conference. Baylor hosts UTSA at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday and Lamar at 4 p.m. Wednesday. The Bears return to Big 12 play when they travel to Lawrence, Kan. for a three-game set against Kansas next weekend.