HOUSTON – Baylor completed a successful 2-1 weekend at Houston's Cougar Field with an 8-3 win over New Orleans and 3-2 loss to Houston on Saturday in a doubleheader. With two games remaining before Big 12 play, the Bears sit at 9-11 on the season.
In the first game of the day against UNO (3-17), Baylor benefitted from a strong bullpen performance and put the game out of reach late with a big seventh inning. Logan Brown paced the offense from the leadoff spot by going a career-best 4-for-5 with two runs scored and a steal.
"I'm more impressed with Logan on the bases right now actually," BU Head Coach Steve Smith said. "His speed is starting to play a bit. He's getting more confident on the bases. He's getting attention out there and when he does that it means the pitcher isn't paying as much attention to the hitter."
BU broke a 1-1 tie in the third inning on Nathan Orf's RBI single, scoring Brown after a double. A second run in the inning came from Steve DalPorto's grounder to third that was mishandled, allowing Orf to come home.
After starter Austin Stone's three innings of one-run (unearned) ball with three strikeouts, Bobby McCormack delivered a stellar outing in relief. The junior first-year Bear threw three innings and allowed just one hit while striking out four. His innings and strikeouts were both season highs as he picked up his first win at Baylor in his first decision.
"[Bobby] did a nice job," said Smith. "I thought Austin was struggling to get in sync. He wasn't awful by any stretch and we could've left him out there. Bobby came in and gave us three pretty good innings and we finally got some distance. It was a pretty close game most of the way. But, yeah, that was a great job by Bobby."
After DalPorto singled home a run in the fifth, the Bears separated in the seventh with four runs. Grayson Porter singled home Cal Towey after a walk and DalPorto single. Jake Miller followed a Wes Mercurio bunt single with a two-run single. Jimmy Landes capped the rally with a sacrifice fly.
From there, Miles Landry, Kolt Browder and Doug Ashby combined for three innings of relief to close it out and hand UNO starter Daniel Martinez (0-2) the loss after allowing three runs (two earned) on four hits and two walks in three innings.
In their third loss this season to Houston (15-4), the Bears just could not get much going against starter Austin Pruitt (4-1). The senior went the distance on 130 pitches, allowing two runs (one earned) on six hits with no walks and six strikeouts to earn his second win against BU this season.
"I really think their guy on the mound is pretty special," said Smith as Pruitt retired the first 11 batters of the game before Orf singled in the fourth. "He doesn't blow you away with a fastball but he's got great command and good breaking stuff. It's impressive. They know what they've got because they rode him pretty hard. I give him credit, give both teams credit because we competed hard."
All three UH runs came with two outs as BU starter Max Garner just could not get the third out in three frames. In the first inning, two singles and a walk loaded the bases for Frankie Ratcliff, who drew an RBI walk off Garner before Landon Appling popped out. In the third, Garner struck out the first two batters but then allowed three straight singles for another run before getting Appling again to end the threat.
The Bears took advantage of a couple breaks in the sixth to tie the game, though. With one out and Jake Miller on after a leadoff single, Pruitt's pickoff attempt at first went wild to allow Miller to advance. Lawton Langford followed with a single and Miller came home on an Orf fielder's choice force at second. Then the game was tied on the next play as Towey hit a sharp single to right field that skipped under Ashford Fullmer's glove, enabling Orf to score from first and Towey to move to third. Unfortunately, the Bears were unable to grab the lead after DalPorto grounded out to third.
Houston answered right back as the third two-out run off Garner proved to be the difference. Jacob Campbell singled with one out in the sixth, stole second with two outs and scored on a tough single by Josh Vidales. A hump-back one-hopper to short, Campbell froze and obstructed Miller's read on the ball before bolting to third. With a split-second to react, Miller missed on a tough pick and the ball scurried away, allowing Campbell to score.
From there, Crayton Bare and Ryan Smith pitched 2.1 scoreless frames to give BU a chance. But the only other scoring threat the Bears had was in the eighth and went for naught. Miller led off the inning reaching on an error and moved to second on a one-out single by Langford. Orf and Towey had chances to bring in the tying and go-ahead runs but both seniors grounded out.
Garner (1-3) took the loss in a decent outing, surrendering three runs on 10 hits and two walks with six strikeouts in 5.2 innings.
The Bears return home to face Sam Houston State on Tuesday at 6:35 p.m. CT before finishing their longest road stretch of the season with five straight games away from Baylor Ballpark.
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