WACO (April 14, 2013) -- Two days after hitting a walk-off homer, senior Cal Towey once again provided a heroic blast – this time a grand slam – to give Baylor a 12-10 win over No. 8 Oklahoma in the series rubber match on Sunday afternoon at Baylor Ballpark.
Trailing 9-4 after the fourth inning and 10-8 entering the bottom of the eight, the Bears loaded the bases with help from the Sooners. West Tunnell led off with a single and Lawton Langford was hit by a pitch from OU closer Jacob Evans (5-1) with one out. Nathan Orf followed with a catchable fly ball to left field but Hunter Haley dropped it, allowing all three runners to be safe. Then after watching numerous breaking balls come across the plate all game, Towey finally got a fastball -- and didn’t miss -- as he launched a 3-1 pitch high over the right field fence to send the Baylor fans and bench into a frenzy.
Similar to the end of Friday’s game, Crayton Bare (3-1) finished the Sooners in the ninth by getting a double play after a one-out walk to earn his second win of the series in relief.
Prior to the late dramatics, though, the outcome wasn’t looking so good for the Bears. Starting pitcher Austin Stone gave up five runs in the first two innings. Then reliever Ryan Smith gave up four more in his first two innings before posting three scoreless frames to let the offense get to work.
“It felt like an extremely long game that had a lot of twist and turns in it,” said BU Head Coach Steve Smith. “It certainly didn’t start off very well for us. We kicked two routine plays by guys who are really good players. We really don’t know about Austin Stone after today because we didn’t do enough behind him defensively, to be fair to him. It wasn’t a whole lot better when Ryan [Smith] first came in. But, to his credit, he was able to give us five innings.”
Fortunately for Baylor, OU starting pitcher Adam Choplick wasn’t sharp. The Bears countered two first-inning runs with a four-spot on Choplick, who only recorded two outs. Grayson Porter drove home two on a double and Jake Miller did the same on a single to provide the Bears with a shortly-held 4-2 lead.
But as quickly as it looked as if Baylor’s offense would match OU, Sooners reliever Ralph Garza Jr. replaced Choplick and shutdown the Bears for 4.1 innings. He left the game after the fifth inning with a 9-4 lead.
However, Garza’s replacement Billy Waltrip ran into trouble in the seventh. He hit pinch-hitter Mitch Price and walked Logan Brown to start the inning. Then he gave up a single to Langford before finally getting an out on a bases-loaded RBI fielder’s choice force at second off the bat of Orf.
Control issues continued for Garza as a wild pitch scored Brown and another walk put Towey at first. After Porter hustled out a potential double play grounder, pinch-hitter Duncan Wendel delivered an RBI single up the middle. The hit brought OU closer Jacob Evans into the game, but he was greeted by a Miller RBI single before he escaped the jam.
“[Towey] and Orf have been so much a part of our offense,” Smith said. “But, what I am seeing that is getting better is some of the other guys. [Adam] Toth had the best swing I’ve seen him take in a month and he hit the ball well. Jake [Miller] is seeing the ball much better and giving us quality at-bats. [Steve] Dalporto came into this weekend hitting under .100 against left-handed pitching and got four hits between yesterday and the day before. We got a big pinch hit today from Duncan [Wendel]. To come back from that far in today’s game against those kind of arms, you’ve got to get some breaks and do things well.”
Oklahoma answered with what at the time seemed like a critical run in the eighth off Bare, but Baylor had other ideas with its ensuing rally that gave BU its third straight conference series win.
At the halfway point of Big 12 play, the Bears (19-17, 7-4 Big 12) are the only team in the league that has not lost a conference series and stand just a half game behind the Sooners (28-8, 8-4 Big 12) for first place.
“We aren’t chasing anybody,” Smith said. “We’re just playing and trying to get better. Some guys are playing better than they were and some are not. I can’t imagine these guys have looked at the standings and I know I haven’t. We’re just chasing today.”
With an 11-game season-long home stand complete and an 8-3 record on it, the Bears hit the road for their next five games. First up is a trip to San Marcos, Texas to take on Texas State on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. CT.
Notes: Baylor is 37-39 all-time against Oklahoma, 25-15 in Waco and 27-33 under Smith ... Baylor has won nine of the 15 series against Oklahoma ... Baylor is the only team in the Big 12 that has yet to lose a league series … Baylor won its third straight series in Big 12 play this season and fourth in a row dating back to the last series of 2012 against Texas ... Baylor is 6-7 against ranked opponents this season ... Baylor is 184-266-1 against teams ranked by Baseball America (Oklahoma is No. 9 currently) and 4-3 this season ... Baylor is 85-139 all-time against Baseball America top 10 teams, is 6-2 in its last eight ... Baylor is 42-47 all-time on TV, 4-1 this season and 9-17 in Fox Sports Network games ... Baylor is 13-6 in TV games since 2011 ... Baylor is 347-144 at home, 13-10 this season ... Baylor ends its season-long 11-game home stand with an 8-3 record ... Baylor is 3-3 on Sundays, 10-7 in day games and 3-3 in series finales … Baylor has seven last at-bat wins this season ... Nathan Orf's on-base streak was extended to a season-high 17 games ... Lawton Langford extended his on-base streak to a career-high 27 games and has a six-game hitting streak ... Jake Miller extended his on-base streak to nine games … Grayson Porter has 20 RBI in last 12 games ... Ryan Smith’s five innings pitched were a career high … Cal Towey leads Baylor with six game-winning RBI hits this season … Towey’s eight-inning game-winning grand slam marked his third career game-winning homer (April 12, 2013 vs. Oklahoma, May 23, 2010 vs. Oklahoma State) … Towey’s grand slam was the first of his career and first by a Baylor player since Max Muncy against Rice on March 6, 2011 … Crayton Bare moved into a tie for ninth on the Baylor all-time appearances list, tying teammate Max Garner with 59 … With four assists in the field, Jake Miller moved into 10th all-time on Baylor’s career assist list (432).