WACO, Texas – Baylor overcame a 3-0 second-inning deficit en route to a 7-6 win over Kansas State to take the rubber match of the Bears' Big 12 home opening series at Baylor Ballpark on Saturday afternoon.
"It is a real big win," said BU Head Coach Steve Smith. "I think one of the reasons it's big is because Kansas State is pretty good. They play hard, they've got talented guys up and down the lineup and they're more than adequate on the mound."
Three runs in each of the fourth and sixth innings along with a run in the eighth helped Baylor (13-15, 3-2 Big 12) erase a sloppy first two innings as three errors led to a KSU (18-10, 3-3 Big 12) run in the first and two in the second.
"My sense today was that nobody likes to play badly," Smith said. "But today was really just trying to win. We aren't looking at the scoreboard and you can't change what's up there. We just stayed focused, in the moment, made plays, used our at-bats and used every opportunity you've got to score as many as you can. We're playing at home and that's the advantage of playing at home."
The comeback started with a Nathan Orf double in the fourth. An out later, Grayson Porter brought him home with a single. Then a well-executed hit-and-run by Adam Toth, who stole second, set up a two-out two-run single by Jake Miller to tie the game.
The same part of the lineup went to work again in the sixth as Toth hustled a sharp liner into a double to begin the frame. Steve DalPorto followed with a beautiful sacrifice bunt attempt that turned into a well-placed hit. Miller backed it up with another clutch hit to give BU a 4-3 lead. Two outs later, Cal Towey roped a two-run double to give Baylor breathing room it later needed.
Helping the offense and allowing the comeback was a solid effort by the Baylor bullpen. After getting a late notice on the start, Bobby McCormack just didn't have it as he gave up two runs (one earned) in one-plus inning of work on 29 pitches in his first start at BU. But Crayton Bare, Austin Stone and Ryan Smith combined to hold the Wildcats to four runs (all unearned) on 10 hits and three walks with six strikeouts over the final eight innings.
Bare gave up a tough RBI bunt single in the second before working scoreless third and fourth innings. Stone entered the game in the fifth and didn't experience much trouble until the ninth as back-to-back singles up the middle and a fielding error loaded the bases.
Baylor had just added a run for a 7-3 lead in the eighth on a two-out Logan Brown single, and it ended up factoring because of KSU's rally in the ninth. Stone stayed in the game to get a fielder's choice ground out that scored a run and then gave way to Ryan Smith. After getting a looking strikeout, Smith gave up a two-run single and walked the go-ahead run. But he stayed tough and struck out Blair DeBord swinging to end the game.
Smith's fifth save locked down Stone's (1-2) first win of the season after throwing a season-high 4.1 innings while allowing three unearned runs on six hits and a walk.
"Austin, sometimes we'd like to see a little more fire in his belly but it's there, he just doesn't show it," said Smith. "I think he has such a calm demeanor that not only do we feel comfortable watching him but the hitters do too. He did a good job and did a much better job than he's been doing with runners on base. He had the fresh arm, he had the 90-plus on the third game of a series when bats were going to be a little slow."
KSU starter Matt Wivinis (4-1) took the loss, surrendering four runs on nine hits and a walk with two strikeouts in five-plus innings.
Baylor's 6-7-8 hitters paved the way for the offense by going a combined 6-for-11 with four runs scored and three runs driven in. Toth had two hits, two runs scored and a steal. DalPorto had two hits and a run scored. Miller had two hits, a run scored and a season-high three RBI.
Baylor continues a season-long 11-game home stand on Tuesday against Dallas Baptist at 6:35 p.m. CT before hosting West Virginia next weekend.
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