By Jerry Hill
Baylor Bear Foundation
Since the early part of the 20th century, baseball relievers have been referred to as firemen because of their ability to come in and put out fires.
"These guys are just veterans and they've been there," said Montemayor, who worked around a leadoff single in the ninth to record his ninth save of the season and 35th of his career in Sunday's 4-3 win that completed a series sweep of TCU (19-18, 6-7). "There's no situation you can put us in that we haven't seen before."
That includes the two-on, one-out jam that Phillips (4-1) inherited when he came out of the bullpen in the fourth inning and the Bears already trailing 3-1. The fifth-year senior right-hander struck out Connor Wanhanen looking, then got Coby Boulware on a fielder's choice grounder to short.
"I threw a couple of really good curveballs and struck the guy out," said Phillips, who gave up three hits in 2.2 innings of shutout relief. "And when there's two outs, it's a little bit easier. Coming in with one out, they could do some things. They can hit-and-run, stuff like that. But once I got that first strikeout, I really calmed down and got that last out and then went on from there."
Because of Cody Bradford's complete-game one-hitter in Friday's 6-0 win and Hayden Kettler's six shutout innings in beating the Frogs, 6-2, on Saturday, the Baylor bullpen came into Sunday's game well-rested.
Freshman starter Tyler Thomas gave up just one run on three hits in the first three innings, but his control struggles cropped up again in the fourth when he gave up two runs on three walks, a bunt single, a wild pitch and sac fly.
"What's great is that we were able to save some of our bullpen from the first couple of days, and we were able to utilize them today," said Baylor coach Steve Rodriguez, whose team swept TCU for the first time since 2000 and won its sixth game in a row. "So, we didn't have to have (Thomas) go out there and kind of suffer through going four or five innings."
The bullpen, solid all year, was spectacular on Sunday. Phillips, Heineman, Robertson and Montemayor combined for 5.2 shutout innings and faced just four batters over the minimum in that stretch.
"You can almost see it, I love it," Rodriguez said. "It's almost like a snowball rolling downhill. You can almost see it gaining momentum, especially coming out of the bullpen. It's really fun to watch." Phillips and Heineman weren't even available the first month of the season because of injuries, but they've become two of the key pieces in the bullpen-by-committee approach by pitching coach Jon Strauss.
"It's been a struggle," Phillips said. "In the beginning, it hurt, our arms were not feeling very good. But, best trainer in the business, Josh Ogden. It's really fun now when you're healthy and everything's moving great - to see myself, to see Joe, who's battled some injuries too, just coming through, it's awesome.
"If you would have told us that we would be pitching against TCU for the sweep on Sunday . . ." But, that's exactly where they were. After Phillips worked out of the fourth-inning jam and got through two more frames, Heineman and Robertson each worked a 1-2-3 inning. Then it was left to "The Mayor."
Adam Oviedo greeted Montemayor with a sharp single to left and moved into scoring position on Wanahen's sac bunt. But true to form, the Baylor closer got Boulware on a grounder to short and then struck out Josh Watson for the final out, leaving the potential tying run at third.
"I get better with a guy on, I guess," Montemayor said. "I just pitched to a spot, and (Oviedo) hit it, that's all. It doesn't matter, you've got to move on to the next guy and trust your defense behind you. (Nick) Loftin and Davis (Wendzel) made some great plays, and I got that strikeout. You couldn't ask for anything else."
Baylor got on the board in the third inning on Wendzel's two-out RBI single, then cut it to a one-run deficit in the bottom of the fourth when Shea Langeliers tripled and scored on freshman Davion Downey's two-strike grounder to first.
"It's hard to explain, but it's the little things that add up," Phillips said. "With the younger guys, you can see it. Downey hits that groundball, that's a team player right there. You don't take selfish at-bats, you take them for the team, and that just keeps everybody rolling."
TCU starter Charles King quieted Baylor's bats and took a 3-2 lead into the sixth. But, reliever Jake Eissler gave up consecutive hits by Thomas and Langeliers and then hit Downey to load the bases with nobody out.
Cal Coughlin came on in relief after Eissler struck out Cole Haring, inducing a potential double-play grounder by Josh Bissonette to third. But, Thomas crossed home plate on the fielder's choice grounder, with Langeliers scoring the go-ahead run when Boulware was off the mark with his relay throw from second base.
"I told our guys, a sweep of anybody is difficult," Rodriguez said. "It's not easy. Trying to stay locked-in for three straight games, especially against a pitching staff like TCU has, it's really nice to be able to know that our guys have that in them, to maintain that focus and have that ability to kind of put the pressure on them and be able to come out of it with a win. To be able to execute some things that we were able to do was really good to see."
The Bears play their next four games on the road, facing Texas State (21-18-1) on Tuesday in San Marcos and then Kansas State (17-23, 3-12) next weekend in Manhattan, Kan.
WACO, Texas -- Baylor baseball tallied a series sweep of TCU with a 4-3 in on Sunday afternoon at Baylor Ballpark. The Bears (22-17, 6-9) used a sixth inning rally and great bullpen work to bounce the Horned Frogs (19-17, 6-8).
Trailing 1-0 in after the first inning, BU tied the game in the third on a two-out RBI single by Davis Wendzel. However, the Horned Frogs jumped back in front in the fourth with two runs on three walks, a single and sacrifice fly.
BU got a run back in the fourth on a Shea Langeliers leadoff triple and Davion Downey RBI groundout. Then in the sixth, the Bears had the bases loaded and one out of Josh Bissonette. He smashed a sharp grounder to third, TCU got the force at second but the relay throw to first was way off line allowing two runs to score for a 4-3 BU lead.
Phillips (4-1) earned the win, allowing three hits with two strikeouts in 2.2 innings. Montemayor grabbed his ninth save with a scoreless ninth. TCU reliever Jake Eissler (2-1) took the loss, giving up two runs (one earned) on two hits with one strikeout in 0.1 innings.
*Baylor posted its second series sweep of the season (March 9-11 vs. George Washington) and first Big 12 series sweep since May 12-14 at Oklahoma State.
*Baylor notched its first Big 12 home sweep since April 26-28, 2013 vs. Texas.
Baylor garnered its first sweep of TCU since Feb. 18-20, 2000.
*Baylor has topped TCU in two out of three series under third-year head coach Steve Rodriguez.
*Baylor has won eight of its last nine games and six straight.
*Baylor is 5-4 in three-game series this season (1-3 on road, 4-1 at home) and has a combined record of 13-12.
*Baylor has finished its home schedule with a .500 record or better (16-5 in 2018) in all 19 seasons at Baylor Ballpark (since 1999) and is 432-198 all-time at the park.
*Troy Montemayor has 35 career saves (nine this season). He is within three of topping Baylor's all-time career saves leader Zane Carlson (37, 2000-04). He converted his first eight career save attempts in 2016, and after blowing his ninth try, converted 12 straight before blowing his 22nd attempt. He has converted 26 of his last 27 save tries and 15 straight. He is 35-for-37 in career save chances.
*Davis Wendzel has reached base in a career-high 28 straight games, marking Baylor's longest since a 35-game streak in 2013 by Lawton Langford. He also has an eight-game hitting streak.
*Andy Thomas has a 10-game on-base streak.
*T.J. Raguse has a 10-game on-base streak and three-game hitting streak.
*Nick Loftin has reached base in nine straight games.
*Richard Cunningham has an eight-game hitting streak.
*Davion Downey has reached base in five straight games.
*Shea Langeliers has reached base in four straight games and has a three-game hitting streak as he posted his seventh multi-hit game (3) of the season.
*Alex Phillips tied a career high with his fourth win.
*Drew Robertson a career-high 10 straight scoreless appearances.
QUOTE OF THE GAME
"One of the things we try to enforce, and it's not ideal to just tell them to put the ball in play, but great things can happen [when you put the ball in play]. Not a whole lot of things can happen when you strikeout, but when you put the ball in play and you make guys have to play catch and play defense, you might actually get hits out of it. Davis Wendzel is a great example. You have winds blowing in as hard as it is and you find a way to get jammed and push it to the right side and you get a hit to get the tying run with it. Those are the things that they guy are really starting to understand. They're buying in and it's a really fun group to coach." -- Baylor Head Coach Steve Rodriguez
The Bears play at Texas State on Tuesday at 6 p.m. CT. For tickets to home games, visit: http://www.baylorbears.com/tickets/. For updates on the program follow @baylorbaseball on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.