LAWRENCE, Kan. - Four Baylor players hit home runs, and the Bears got strong pitching from Trent Blank and Brad Kuntz to take a 12-4 win in the series finale against Kansas on a windy Sunday afternoon at Hoglund Ballpark.
Blank (2-1) earned the win by holding the Jayhawks to three runs on seven hits in 6.0 innings of work, while Kuntz earned his first career save, limiting Kansas to one run on two hits with four strikeouts over the final 3.0 innings.
"This is just not an easy day to pitch with the wind blowing like this, and I thought Trent (Blank) did a great job of grinding it out," head coach Steve Smith said. "I was on the edge of my seat a few times, but he got it done. It's just a gritty effort all the way around."
Baylor (17-12, 4-5 Big 12) avoided being swept by Kansas (12-15, 4-5 Big 12) for the first time ever. The Bears had only one two-home-run game entering the day, but Cal Towey, Jake Miller, Max Muncy and Dan Evatt each went deep for the Bears.
Kansas starting pitcher Alex Cox (0-3) took the loss. He allowed six runs on five hits in 3.1 innings, and the Bears scored at least one run against each of the Jayhawks' five relievers.
The Bears wasted no time taking a lead, plating a pair of runs in the first inning. Max Muncy, who batted second in the lineup for the first time in his career, drew a one-out walk, and Joey Hainsfurther followed with a single. Towey laced a RBI single the opposite way, and two batters later Evatt gave the Bears a 2-0 lead with a sacrifice fly.
Baylor added three runs in the third when Towey blasted a two-run homer to straightaway center field, and Josh Ludy singled and scored on a Landis Ware sacrifice fly to give Blank all the offense he would need.
Blank escaped a bases-loaded jam unscathed in the first, but the Jayhawks got to him in the third when Zac Elgie hit a two-out, two-run double to cut Baylor's lead to 5-2. Kansas managed only one more hit against Blank and Kuntz until a two-out single in the ninth.
Brooks Pinckard reached on an error in the fourth, stole second and third bases and scored when the throw down to third got away. His 26 stolen bases are tied for the eighth-best single-season total in program history.
Muncy hit the first pitch in the sixth into the teeth of a 30-mile-per-hour wind and over the right-center field fence for his third homer of the year to give Baylor a 7-3 lead. Miller added a solo shot with two outs in the seventh, and Evatt added a solo homer with two outs in the ninth.
"Dan (Evatt) had a nice ball game today, and a bunch of guys swung the bat pretty well," Smith said. "I think (Cal) Towey looks like he has really gotten it going, and with Logan (Vick) out of the lineup right now, that is pretty important."
Ware and Steve DalPorto got in on the action in the eighth with a RBI single and two-run double, respectively.
Blank retired the last five batters he faced before handing the ball to Kuntz to start the seventh. Kuntz set down six straight before issuing a leadoff walk in the ninth. That runner came around to score, but with the help of a diving catch from Evatt, Kuntz stranded the bases loaded with a called third strike on a 3-2 curveball to James Stanfield to end the game.
Towey reached base in each of his first five plate appearances. He was hit by a pitch twice and went 3-for-4 with a home run, three RBI and two runs scored. Ludy, Evatt and Ware had two hits apiece for the Bears, and Evatt Ware and DalPorto each drove in a pair of runs.
The Bears return to action at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday when they travel for a game at Sam Houston State. Baylor resumes Big 12 Conference play with the annual split-series against Texas next weekend. In a change from previous years, the first two games will be played in Waco and the series finale will be in Austin.