Coming into a crucial series against the formidable Baylor Bears, the plan for the No. 12 Texas Longhorns was simple. The Longhorns needed at least a series sweep to overtake the conference-leading Bears for first place in Big 12 play.
You can scrap those plans now, as they went down in flames with the game itself. After blowing an early 4-0 lead, and then coming back to tie the game at 5-5, the Longhorns eventually fell to the Bears in Waco in walk-off fashion by a final score of 6-5. Texas, who now sports a blemished record of 3-4 in the Big 12, is already more than halfway to last season’s conference loss total in a 17-7 conference record.
Bryce Elder manned the starting pitcher role as he’s done all season for Texas. Elder wasn’t sharp to open up the game, as he walked a batter on four pitches and hit another one to put two Bears on base. However, he was able to escape the inning without allowing anymore base-runners.
The Texas bats rewarded Elder getting out of a jam by putting up four runs of their own in the top of the second. With two outs, a Tate Shaw single brought Masen Hibbeler up to the plate. Hibbeler, who entered tonight’s game with just 10 RBI and no home runs to his name, was quick to add two and one to those columns with a towering shot down the left field line.
Texas scored two more in the inning. Lance Ford crossed home after a single and a couple of throwing errors advanced him to score. Michael McCann later scored after an Eric Kennedy double moved McCann in from second base.
Elder retired the Bears in order in a 1-2-3 inning, but things started to unravel for the Longhorns ace his next time out in the third.
Elder allowed two lead off singles to open the inning and got his first out on a sac bunt that moved both Bears into scoring position. The following batter drove in one of those runners with an RBI single, cutting the Longhorn lead to 4-1.
Elder then got the next batter out on a strikeout, but walked and then hit the next two batters to bring in another run. Followed up by another Baylor single, the Bears would ultimately bring home four runs of their own to tie the game before recording a third out to end the inning.
Action continued in the bottom of the fifth inning, where Baylor got its fifth run off of the usually dominant Bryce Elder. The Bears were able to string together three consecutive singles, scoring one and giving Baylor its first lead of the game, 5-4. Elder reeled in the game and got the next two batters out, as well as pitched another 1-2-3 inning in the sixth inning.
The Longhorns got their run back in the seventh inning, thanks to a lead off double from Duke Ellis and some vintage Texas small ball to move him home from second. An Austin Todd fielder’s choice ultimately scored Ellis from third, and the Longhorns traded outs for runs to tie the game up at 5-5.
Elder recorded one more out in the bottom of the seventh, but a rag-tag collection of relievers pitched the next two innings, including a 1.1 inning, three strikeout and no base-runners allowed showing from Donny Diaz.
However, after throwing just 17 pitches and facing just four batters, Diaz was lifted to open up a tied bottom of the ninth inning in favor of Matt Whelan. Whelan went on to face just one batter and gave up a two-strike bunt to the left side that put a Bear on first with no outs.
Pierce countered and brought the sure-fired Cole Quintanilla in to relieve Whelan. It just wasn’t Quintanilla’s night, though, as he gave up two full count walks to load the bases. Though Quintanilla got a pop-out to record an out, he couldn’t get a second out, as Baylor notched a single to right field to drive in the winning run and defeat the Longhorns, 6-5.
Texas will look to put this tough loss behind them tomorrow afternoon, with (mother nature pending) a game two matchup against the Bears at 3:00 CT. You can catch the game on Fox Sports Southwest, or listen to it on the radio through 104.9 The Horn.