No. 2 Baylor baseball defeated No. 4 Wright State 11-5 Saturday afternoon at Sunken Diamond in a Stanford Regional elimination game. The Bears (37-20) rallied late, scoring four runs in the eighth inning and three in the ninth to put away the Raiders (39-17).
The top of the batting order got Baylor going right away as Richard Cunningham and Davis Wendzel hit back-to-back doubles to give starting pitcher Hayden Kettler a 1-0 lead before he took the mound.
Wright State countered in the bottom of the first inning with an RBI double that evened the score. But the Bears took the lead right back in the top of the second with an RBI knock by T.J. Raguse.
Baylor was in business again in the third, but the Raiders got out of a jam with a two-out strikeout that left two Bears on base. Kettler used a 6-4-3 double play to escape potential danger in the bottom half, and Baylor extended its lead in the fourth.
Cole Haring led off the inning with a rope and advanced to second following an error. Josh Bissonette bunted him over and Haring scored on a fielder’s choice error that allowed Raguse to reach second base. Nick Loftin doubled him in and the Bears went up 4-1.
The Raiders got a couple back with runs in the fourth and fifth, but Kettler was able to minimize the damage and keep the Bears ahead 4-3 entering the sixth inning.
That’s when Wright State tied the ballgame, as an RBI double chased Kettler after 5.2 innings. He gave up four runs on six hits and struck out just one. Kyle Hill came on in relief and picked up a big punchout to leave two runners stranded.
Both teams were held scoreless in the seventh, but Baylor moved in front in the eighth as Shea Langeliers laced a double to the left-center gap and scored on a single off the bat of Davion Downey. Haring bunted the runner to third and Bissonette singled him home, giving the Bears a two-run lead.
Four straight hits by Levi Gilcrease, Loftin, Cunningham and Wendzel put another two runs across the plate and Baylor took an 8-4 lead to the ninth.
The Bears tacked on some insurance in the final inning as Haring and Bissonette racked up RBI singles and a third run scored on a fielder’s choice.
Kyle Hill (4-1) picked up the win after going 2.1 scoreless innings and striking out three. Dylan Hendrixson (2-3) took the loss for Wright State after allowing four runs on seven hits in just one inning of work.
STAT OF THE GAME
7 – The amount of hits Baylor had in its four-run eighth inning.
QUOTE OF THE GAME
“Just a great game by us. I’ll tell you what, Wright State is an impressive team. I told our coaching staff that. Every report we’ve got [on them] has said you have to pay attention to the team, not the name. You have to understand they’re a really good team. They’re really offensive, their pitchers are going to compete and throw multiple pitches at you. I just thought it was a phenomenal job by them. We were very fortunate to be able to execute some offensive things and be able to hit some balls on the ground, find some holes and force them to play defense. I’m pretty happy with how our team performed today.” -- Baylor Head Coach Steve Rodriguez.
Baylor will face off with the loser of the No. 1 Stanford vs No. 3 Cal State Fullerton matchup at 3 p.m. CT on Sunday in another elimination game. If the Bears win, they will play the winner of the Stanford-Cal State Fullerton game at 8 p.m. with their season on the line. If BU wins that game, the Bears again play the winner of Stanford-Cal State Fullerton for the regional title at 9 p.m. Monday.