Wow. Texas had eight pretty rough innings at the plate last night and Parker French was good but not great, which set the Longhorns up for what appeared to be likely failure in the pivotal first game of this conference series. Texas trailed 4-2 entering the ninth inning against Baylor closer Josh Michalec who was a perfect 11-of-11 in save opportunities coming in. The success of the inning owes a good bit to Baylor senior shortstop Brett Doe who booted Madison Carter's grounder to begin the frame.
After Kacy Clemens hit the ball pretty well but right at the third baseman, Zane Gurwitz showed his growing maturity on offense by staying with an 0-2 pitch for a single moving Carter to second. Brooks Marlow put together a great at-bat and drew a walk to load the bases, but Ben Johnson struck out to bring up Mark Payton. It should be noted that, at this point, Michalec had earned the save by inducing three Longhorn outs; but, thanks to Doe's error, Texas got exactly the man they wanted up to the plate.
What followed was an at-bat that can only be described as epic. Payton started out ahead 2-0, and Michalec fought back to fill the count at 3-2. With the runners getting the full count, two-out head start, Payton took a high fastball the opposite way over the head of the Baylor third baseman. The line drive was scalded and ricocheted off the wall in foul territory as Carter and Gurwitz came around to tie the game. Baylor executed the relay well and the throw came to the plate just barely too late to get Marlow, who slid in safely to win the ballgame.
The three runs to win the game in the bottom of the ninth were, of course, unearned. But it can't be overstated how great it is to see Texas actually take advantage of the opportunities handed them by their opponents, which was usually beyond the capabilities of the 2013 Longhorns. Texas now has--gasp!--a winning record in the Big 12 and a chance to get its second straight conference series win today. Should they pull it off, they can get the brooms out tomorrow. That, my friends? That's the dream.
Dillon Peters is scheduled to start this evening, and his last outing was uncharacteristically shaky. Last week he made it only 3.1 innings in Lubbock, giving up five earned runs on seven hits, two walks, and two hit batters. Which means he allowed more base runners than he got outs. Baylor is throwing Austin Stone, who comes in with a very strong 1.69 ERA. Stone also had an off performance last weekend, but even though Texas is hitting the ball better than they were early on, Stone will likely be tough to score on. Peters is going to have to return to form for Texas to prevail tonight.
The first pitch is at 7:00 on Longhorn Network. This is your open thread. Hook 'em!