Waco, Texas – Joey Hainsfurther’s eighth-inning sacrifice fly broke a 6-all tie, as Baylor scored a pair of runs in the eighth inning to down Nebraska, 7-6, Friday night at the Baylor Ballpark.
The Huskers overcame a 5-3 deficit with three runs in the top of the eighth, only to see the Bears plate two off of Casey Hauptman in the bottom of the frame.
Kenton Gedwed opened the bottom of the eighth with pinch-hit single through the left side before Landis Ware coaxed a walk to put two on with no outs. After a sacrifice moved both runners into scoring position, Brooks Pinckard hit a fielder’s choice to shortstop Chad Christensen, who was playing in, but Christensen’s throw home was late, allowing the tying run to score. Hainsfurther, who went 3-for-4 on the night, then lofted a sacrifice fly to left to score Ware the game winner, as the Huskers suffered their seventh last at-bat loss of the season.
“I was really pleased with the way we battled on the road,” Nebraska Coach Mike Anderson said. “We fought back in the eighth inning and put ourselves in a position to win. That was a well-fought Friday night game from our position players, and Michael (Mariot) pitched well enough to get a win, but our bullpen could not hold them and that is disappointing. We are going to have to fight and keep those kids confident when they go out there in those situations. Their bullpen shut us down in the ninth, and we could not hold them; that was the difference tonight.”
Nebraska battled in the top of the eighth, pushing across three runs to take a brief lead. Bryan Peters opened the frame with a single before Kyle Bubak’s hit-and-run was misplayed, putting runners on the corners. DJ Belfonte then drew a walk from Pickard to load the bases before Kale Kiser pushed across a run on a fielder’s choice to second. Adam Bailey walked to load the bases for the second time in the frame before Cody Asche came through with a two-out, two-run single to put NU ahead 6-5.
That would be Nebraska’s last opportunity, as Pinckard escaped further damage in the eighth and retired the Huskers in order to get the win to improve to 1-1 on the season. Hauptman took the loss, allowing two runs on one hit over 1.2 innings to fall to 1-4 on the season
Nebraska struck in the top of the third, as Bailey’s three-run homer capped a two-out rally off of BU starter Logan Verrett, who had struck out six over the first 2.2 innings. Belfonte start the rally with a two-out double to left center before Kiser was hit by a pitch to put a pair of runners on for Bailey, who sent a 2-1 pitch over the wall in left center to spot the visitors a three-run lead. It was Bailey’s Big 12 leading 15th homer of the season and the three RBIs gave him 50 for the season.
Baylor came back with a run in the bottom of the fourth, as Tyler Collins singled and scored on a two-out double by Gregg Glime into the corner in right. Glime then tried to score on Raynor Campbell’s single to left, but Cade Thompson threw him out at the plate to end the inning.
The Bears came back in the sixth with a pair in the sixth, getting a two-run double from Glime to knot the score at three apiece. After a leadoff single by Max Muncy, Collins doubled to right, putting both runners in scoring position. Glime, who went 2-for-3 with three RBIs, cleared the bases with a double to right. The Bears eventually put runners on the corners with no outs, but Mariot worked out of the jam, striking out the next three hitters to keep the game tied heading into the seventh.
Both starters battled, but did not factor in the decision, as Mariot matched his season high with seven strikeouts over 6.1 innings, while Verrett fanned eight without a walk and allowed just six hits over 7.0 innings.
Baylor took its first lead with a pair of runs in the seventh off of Mariot. After a walk and a Hainsfurther single, Muncy put the Bears ahead with an RBI single to right before Collins greeted reliever Jordan Roualdes with an RBI double to put the hosts up 5-3. After an intentional walk put runners on first and second, Hauptman got the Huskers out of danger, as Campbell lined into an inning-ending double play on a great catch by Christensen at short.
The Huskers and Bears will continue the series Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m., as the game will be carried across the state on the Husker Sports Network and on Huskers.com.
Notes: Tonight’s game was delayed 49 minutes because of a threat of thunderstorms…Bailey became the first Husker since 2005 to have consecutive 50 RBI seasons (Alex Gordon and Curtis Ledbetter), as he now has 100 career RBIs…Kiser is the third Husker to be hit by at least 10 pitches this season (also DJ Belfonte and Bryan Peters)…Mariot has pitched into the seventh in each of his last seven starts…Nebraska’s four-game losing streak is a season long…Kiser has now reached safely in all 33 starts this season.