FORT WORTH, Texas – A four-run third inning was not enough for Baylor in a 5-4 loss to TCU in the series rubber match at Lupton Stadium on Sunday afternoon. The loss gave TCU a 2-1 series win in the first-ever Big 12 series between the two teams.
Prior to the game, Baylor (20-20, 8-6 Big 12) had a streak of four straight Big 12 series wins dating back to last season, and was the only league team remaining that had not lost a Big 12 series yet. But a fifth straight series win was not in the cards as TCU (19-21, 7-8 Big 12) overcame a 4-1 deficit.
"Today was just a day of inches, really," said BU Head Coach Steve Smith. "Some ground balls got through for them, some didn't for us. They put the ball in play a little better than we did, but it was a very competitive game."
The Bears briefly fell behind 1-0 in the second but answered in a large way in the third with four runs. Adam Toth led off with a single and stole second to get it started. Following a one-out walk by Lawton Langford, Nathan Orf scored both runners on a double. Then Cal Towey crushed a two-run homer to right field.
With the 4-1 lead to work with, BU starter Ryan Smith (1-3) struggled in the second time around TCU's order in the fourth inning. After allowing a one-out walk, Smith was tagged for back-to-back doubles by Jantzen Witte and Derek Odell to score a pair. A strikeout later, Jerrick Suiter tied the game with a single.
Smith regrouped to keep the game tied through six innings. After a career-long 6.1 innings of work and career-best four strikeouts, he gave way to Crayton Bare following a leadoff single and sacrifice bunt in the seventh.
"[Ryan Smith] is going to learn every time he goes out there," said Smith. "Of all the guys that we throw, he's probably got the least experience on the mound. I thought early on in the game he was pacing himself. He made some bad pitches, got behind in the count and left some fastballs up in the fourth inning. But after that he really got after it. His stuff was good, he competed hard, we rode him pretty hard and I thought he did a great job."
Bare gave up a single to his first batter Boomer White, but got what he was looking for from Paul Hendrix – a possible double play ball to escape unharmed. However, Baylor's 3-6-1 attempt was a half-step late, allowing the go-ahead run to score.
Baylor had a chance to tie it in the eighth off reliever Trey Teakell (3-0) after Orf led off with a single and moved to second on a productive out by Towey. But Grayson Porter grounded out sharply to third and Jake Miller grounded out softly to second to end the threat.
Baylor finishes a five-game road trip on Tuesday at Dallas Baptist with a 6:30 p.m. CT contest.
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