The Baylor Bears’ bats proved to be a few degrees from melting as they lit up the Oklahoma State pitching staff for the second straight game Saturday in a 16-11 Cowboy loss.
Centerfielder Chris Durbin led the way for the Bears’ (25-13, 8-6 Big 12) 16 hits going 5-for-5 with four RBI.
“It’s the first time I ever got five hits in a game,” Durbin said. “I think everybody did a great job today; everybody's swinging the bats. We came out here and started where we left off yesterday.”
The first runs of the game were scored in the bottom of the first when Cowboy center fielder Jose Virgil hit an Abe Woody pitch over the right field wall, jumping OSU to a 2-0 lead. OSU ended the inning ahead 3-0 and held the lead until the fifth.
That is when the Baylor offense awakened and posted 15 runs in four innings.
“The offense showed up big,” Durbin said. “Pitching struggled a little early on, but they got their act together later in the game.”
Starting pitcher Spencer Grogan left the game in the fifth after struggling in his final two innings. He finished allowing five earned runs on eight hits.
“After yesterday, you’ve got to watch your starter the next day and make sure he doesn’t go out there trying to be too fine, and I thought Spence was too fine,” OSU coach Tom Holliday said.
No OSU pitcher, not even star relievers Shane Hawk and Daniel Rew, had enough to stunt the onslaught that the Bears created.
“We couldn’t figure the zone out and I think it undid us,” Holliday said. “It’s the first time this year that I’ve seen my two most experienced people (Hawk and Rew), the two guys that we’ve given the ball to in each clutch situation get undone by not getting their pitches.”
Down 9-4 and moving into the bottom of the seventh, the Cowboys staged a five-run comeback to tie the game.
Third baseman Josh Fields started OSU off with a solo home run lined to the bullpen in right field. Then first baseman John Urick clocked a double off the center-field wall, and catcher Jason Jaramillo walked setting the stage for designated hitter Mario Matulich to send Urick home on a ground out.
The inning ended with rightfielder Lindsay Simmons grinding a hit to right field that tied the game before Simmons was called out trying to take the extra base.
“To come back and tie that game at nine, that was probably the statement of the year for this club,” Holliday said. “We needed to respond on the mound. We needed to get the first guy out in the eighth and we didn’t do it.”
Hawk loaded the bases with no outs on a walk and two perfectly placed bunts by BU third baseman Michael Griffin and first baseman Mark Saccomanno in the top half of the eighth frame.
This forced the decision to replace Hawk for Rew, but Rew couldn’t deliver either.
“We went to the magic act and it just didn’t happen,” Holliday said.
Rew walked three runs home in the inning, and the Bears knocked in another four, including two on a double by Durbin, to answer the Cowboys rally and lead 16-9.
“You just tip your hat to Baylor,” Holliday said. “They stayed patient; they took everything we gave them.”
OSU didn’t give up, however, and scored two runs in the bottom of the ninth on a base hit by Virgil before running out of gas.
“That’s a hard fought game. I thought for nine innings, that’s the hardest we’ve fought all season long and we had to,” Holliday said. “That’s a good ballclub over there. We didn’t back down and they didn’t back down. It reminded me of Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier.”
Unfortunately for the Cowboys, Baylor assumed the role of Joe Frazier, and, with big help from Durbin, knocked OSU out in nine frames.
“Durbin right now, he’s a thorn in our side,” Holliday said. “I think right now that Baylor, offensively, is every bit as good as Texas was. If that’s the best in the league then we’ve gotta get a little better.”
Although there is room for improvement, Holliday remained optimistic concerning the offense.
“If we fight like that in every inning offensively the rest of the way, people are going to have to score 20 to beat us.”
Baylor will attempt to sweep the series Sunday at and stay on the roll that got them to this point.
“Everybody’s coming together playing good,” Durbin said. “I think that we’re at the top of our game right now.”