The No. 12 Texas Longhorns (21-13, 4-4 Big 12), despite giving up five early runs in a rain-delayed game, scored eight unanswered runs to defeat the Baylor Bears (22-8, 6-2 Big 12) in Waco on Saturday by the score of 8-6. The win brings the Horns to a .500 record in Big 12 play as the team looks to take the rubber match tomorrow for a series victory.
After nearly a three-hour weather delay, Baylor jumped on Texas with a three-run first inning. It was another slow start from junior right-hander Blair Henley as he allowed the first four batters to reach base. As a result, the Longhorns quickly fell behind in an inning highlighted by Richard Cunningham’s RBI triple to left center before Davis Wendzel brought him in via an RBI single to center field.
With nothing doing for the Horns at the plate, Henley started to settle in as he started to locate the ball lower in the zone. In the third, Henley was helped by the play of his defense, in particular senior catcher Michael McCann, who he gunned down a base runner trying to steal second. In addition, it only took Henley five pitches to get out of the fourth inning.
On the other hand, Texas continued their ineptitude at the plate as Baylor starter Paul Dickens had retired 11 straight batters by keeping the Longhorns hitters off balance and unable to figure out the southpaw.
Baylor added a pair of runs in the bottom of the fifth, highlighted by Wendzel’s RBI double to right center on a 0-2 count, giving him his third hit of the ball game. Andy Thomas capped off the inning for the Bears with an RBI double of his own down the right field line to bring the score 5-0 in favor of Baylor.
Down by five in the top of the sixth, things were looking grim for the Longhorns, thanks in large part to not having a hit since the second inning. However, by now you know what is coming — it seems like every game Texas is having to come back from a big deficit and that is exactly what they did as the Longhorns put up a four spot to bring the game within reach.
Senior center fielder Duke Ellis started off the sixth with a single up through the middle of the infield on a full count to give Texas its first hit since the second inning. Junior right fielder Austin Todd then followed that up with a two-run home run to left field that still might be going, by the way.
Texas loaded the bases with two outs for freshman second baseman Lance Ford, who delivered with an RBI single through the left side of the infield, scoring senior first baseman Tate Shaw and senior shortstop Masen Hibbeler. The Horns couldn’t push the tying run across, but nevertheless, mission accomplished as Henley went back on the mound trailing only by one.
Subsequent to a 1-2-3 inning for Blair Henley, the Horns once again managed to load the bases up with two outs, all of them thanks to either walks or hit batters. In the walk to load the bases, Hibbeler battled back from an 0-2 count to work out the free pass to first. On another 0-2 count, with two outs, Shaw gave the Longhorns their first lead of the game with an RBI single to right field to score Kennedy and Reynolds.
After an injury delay for the umpire, the Longhorns weren’t done yet, as Ford was hit by a pitch to bring in Hibbeler and gain a 7-5 Texas lead. During that inning, the Horns batted around for the second straight inning and walked five times, with two of those coming off of hit batters.
Henley continued to toe the rubber in the bottom of the seventh and managed to retire the top of the Baylor lineup without surrendering a run, putting him in position to get the win. However, a scary moment happened with one out when Ellis, chasing down a fly ball, collided with freshman left fielder Eric Kennedy in left center. Amazingly, Ellis made the catch, but came up limping with what appeared to be a left leg injury. Even so, both elected to finish off the inning and stay in the ball game.
After surrendering an infield single, Henley’s day was done, as junior right-hander Tristan Stevens came in for relief in the bottom of the eighth. Baylor threatened soon afterwards as the Bears had two base runners in scoring position with two outs, but a clutch strikeout from Stevens got the Horns out of the inning unscathed heading to the ninth.
The Horns were able to push across an insurance run in the top of the ninth thanks to a Lance Ford RBI double down the right field line that barely cleared the line. That was Ford’s fourth RBI of the game and don’t look now, but he now has the second highest batting average on the team behind fellow freshman Eric Kennedy.
In the bottom of the ninth, closer Kamron Fields managed to shut the door on a Baylor comeback after some recent struggles.
Texas will look to take the series tomorrow at Baylor Ballpark as freshman Coy Cobb will take the mound for the Horns. The game will start at 3:35 pm Central, and will be televised on FoxSportsGo or you can listen in on 104.9 The Horn.