LUBBOCK, Texas – A seven-run fourth inning led to a 17-5 loss for Baylor at Texas Tech on Thursday evening at Rip Griffin Park. With the setback in the opener of the last Big 12 regular season series, the Bears (26-24, 11-10 Big 12) are eliminated from any chance to win the conference regular season title.
"You have to put [this game] behind you and we need a good performance out of Dillon [Newman] tomorrow," said BU Head Coach Steve Smith. "Obviously, Max [Garner] struggled. That fourth inning was a pretty bizarre inning. He gets two strikeouts and looks really sharp. He gives up a hit and walk and the snowball started rolling down hill and he just couldn't get out of the inning. They wind up putting seven runs on the board with two outs."
The loss marks just the fourth time all season that Baylor has been beaten by more than five runs as 29 of its 50 games have been decided by two or less runs, including the last four games being decided by one run. The decision also ended a three-game winning streak for Baylor in the all-time series against Texas Tech (24-27, 8-14 Big 12).
Prior to the Red Raiders' run scoring binge, the Bears held two leads for the usually reliable senior starter Max Garner. In the first, Adam Toth singled and scored on a double from Nathan Orf. Baylor had a chance to add to the damage but a base running gaffe mitigated the chance.
The Red Raiders grabbed a run and loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the first, but Garner induced a timely 4-6-3 double play to escape. Two innings later, Lawton Langford helped Baylor regain the lead with a leadoff single. He then moved to second on a balk and third on a Toth sacrifice bunt before scoring on an Orf ground out.
After giving up two singles to start the bottom of the third, Garner struck out the next two batters and was up 1-2 in the count against Jarrard Poteete, looking as if he'd escape another possible treacherous situation. But he left a ball up on the next pitch and Poteete launched it over the right-center field fence for a three-run homer and 4-2 lead.
Garner looked as if he was not bothered at all in the fourth as he struck out the first two batters. But then he allowed six straight hitters to reach and gave up four straight RBI hits. Sean Spicer came on but surrendered two more RBI hits and a walk before Kolt Browder got the final out. When the inning was finally said and done, Texas Tech had nine straight batters reach with two outs, had five straight RBI hits at one point, and ended up with seven runs to take a commanding 11-2 lead that Baylor was unable to overcome.
"It's one of the hardest calls for a coach when you get two quick strikeouts – you're not thinking about the bullpen," Smith said. "And then when he gives up a two-out hit, you're not even thinking about the bullpen, and even when he gives up a walk, especially on Friday night. Really, it just got out of hand before we could keep it a good game."
In a rare off performance, Garner took the loss (3-6) after allowing a career-high 12 hits and 10 runs with one walk and six strikeouts in 3.2 innings. Prior to the outing, he had five straight starts with six or more innings and three or less runs and had given up three runs or less in all but one of his 12 starts this season.
Earning the win for the Red Raiders was starter Trey Masek (5-1), who allowed two runs on five hits and two walks with seven strikeouts in seven innings.
The teams continue their Big 12 regular season final series tomorrow at 6:30 p.m. CT and Saturday at 12:06 p.m. Texas Tech has not announced starters for either game but Baylor will be throwing RHP Dillon Newman (3-2, 2.70 ERA) Friday and RHP Austin Stone (3-2, 2.98 ERA) Saturday.
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