May 14, 2006
WACO, Texas - Zach Dillon's two-run home run in the bottom of the first set the tone for Sunday's series finale as Baylor defeated No. 5 Nebraska 12-2 in seven innings to complete the Big 12 Conference series sweep. The Bears (33-19, 13-11) are the only team to sweep Nebraska since the 1999 season and have done so in three of the Huskers' (37-12, 16-8) last four series at Baylor Ballpark.
The game was delayed two hours due to substantial rains in the Central Texas area Sunday morning. When the game finally started, Baylor extended its winning streak to six games since dropping two of three at Missouri the last weekend of April. The Bears have won eight straight against Nebraska in Waco, where the Huskers are 1-12 since the inception of the Big 12 Conference in 1997. Baylor is 23-7 after May 1 over the past two seasons.
Kevin Russo singled to the hole at short to lead off the bottom of the first, and Dillon followed with his third round-tripper of the season down the right-field line on a 1-1 Johnny Dorn offering. It was Dillon's first home run since Feb. 21.
Baylor added another run on consecutive doubles by Ben Booker and Mike Pankratz. The Bears doubled their lead to 6-0 in the third with three runs on a Nebraska error and doubles by Dillon, Tim Jackson and Pankratz. After Seth Fortenberry's two-out RBI bunt-single in the fourth, Chase Gerdes put Baylor ahead 9-0 with a two-run triple to right.
Meanwhile, Baylor starter Jeff Mandel fed Nebraska hitters crumbs for the first five innings. After Ryan Wehrle's two-out infield single in the first, Mandel (2-2) did not allow another hit until a Jaros one-out single in the fifth. That was the first of four consecutive hits for Nebraska off Mandel, the third of which was a Brandon Buckman two-run single up the middle. However, Jake Weghorst quelled the Huskers' rally with a strikeout and a groundout.
Baylor answered with three runs in the bottom of the sixth, setting up the potential for the run rule (10 runs after seven innings). Kevin Russo led off the sixth with a home run just to the left of the batter's eye, his second round-tripper of the season and first since Feb. 14. Dillon and Fortenberry followed with walks; two batters and one out later, Jackson and Booker had consecutive RBI singles to put Baylor ahead by 10 runs.
Nick Johnson's one-out, pinch-hit single in the seventh was quickly erased as Weghorst induced a game-ending double play ball from Bryce Nimmo.
Mandel allowed two runs on five hits and two walks with two strikeouts over 5.1 innings. Weghorst faced the minimum, allowing only Johnson's single with two strikeouts in his 1.2 innings of work.
Dorn (9-3) was touched for six runs, four earned, on six hits with no strikeouts over 2.1 innings for the loss.
Eight of Baylor's 13 hits on the day were for extra bases, including a season-high tying five doubles. The Bears have won 19 consecutive games when hitting at least two home runs, dating back to the 2004 season.
Booker, Dillon, Jackson, Pankratz and Russo each had two hits. Dillon reached in all four plate appearances and scored a career-high four runs. Kevin Sevigny was the only batter to not record a hit, but he walked, scored and lined out twice in his three plate appearances.
Baylor returns to action Tuesday, hosting Dallas Baptist in the final regular-season home game of the 2006 season. First pitch between the Bears and the Patriots is scheduled for 6 p.m. CDT at Baylor Ballpark. Right-hander Randall Linebaugh (5-0, 2.72) is the expected starter for the Bears.
NOTES: Baylor leads the all-time series 27-17-1, including an 18-4-1 advantage in games played in Waco. The Bears are 19-13 against the Huskers since the start of the Big 12, 17-8 in regular-season conference meetings. Baylor is 20-13 against Nebraska under head coach Steve Smith. ... Sunday was the 26th win at Baylor Ballpark for the Bears, tying the 2000 team for the most regular-season home wins at Baylor Ballpark. ... The weekend series drew a total attendance of 9,654, the sixth-largest three-date series total in Baylor Ballpark history. ... Baylor eclipsed the 90,000 attendance barrier over the weekend for the fifth time in Baylor Ballpark's eight-year history and the third consecutive season. Through Sunday's game, Baylor has drawn a season total of 93,847, third in school history and 1,520 shy of 2001's second-place total. ... Fortenberry and Gerdes both extended hitting streaks to seven games. Russo and Pankratz also extended streaks to three games. ... Jackson (four games) and Zach Dillon (three games) both saw streaks end.