OKLAHOMA CITY -- Despite putting the tying run on base in the eighth and having that run at the plate in the ninth, No. 3 Texas (45-14) dropped a narrow 9-8 decision to No. 13 Baylor (39-20) in front of 2,200 fans during the semifinals of the 2005 Phillips 66 Big 12 Tournament at SBC Bricktown Ballpark on Saturday, May 28. With the loss, the Horns are eliminated from the conference tournament with a 2-2 record and will now await to hear word from the NCAA Committee on whether they will receive an at-large berth to the NCAA Baseball Tournament, which begins on Friday, June 3.
Baylor grabbed an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first when with runners on first and second with one out via a base hit and a walk, catcher Zach Dillon blooped a base hit just inside the left field line to score Michael Griffin from second. Quickly answering in the bottom half of the inning, the Horns received a two-out single from Seth Johnston (Boerne, Texas) followed by a home run off the bat of Carson Kainer (Tomball, Texas), which marked his first round-tripper of the season, to establish a 2-1 UT advantage. After a scoreless second, the Bears threatened in the top of the third when a one-out, two-base error and a wild pitch placed the tying run at third, but Texas starter Kyle McCulloch (Houston, Texas) registered a strikeout and induced a groundout to keep the Longhorns in front.
Baylor again challenged the lead with runners on second and third with two down in the top of the fourth, but McCulloch again worked out of the jam with a groundball to first. Texas then used a leadoff double from Johnston followed by back-to-back, one-out singles from Chance Wheeless (Round Rock, Texas) and Nick Peoples (Round Rock, Texas) to push on top 3-1. Still battling in the frame, the Horns then received a two-out walk to load the bases before a ground ball off the bat of catcher Clay Van Hook (Brenham, Texas) resulted in a pair of BU errors to plate two runs and make it a 5-1 ballgame. Looking to respond immediately, the Bears managed to load the bases with no outs in the top of the fifth on two singles and a walk before consecutive one-out hits from Dillon and Seth Fortenberry brought in three runs and a sac fly off the bat of Jeff Mandel tied the contest at 5-5.
A two-out double from Peoples with runners on second and third courtesy of two singles and a sacrifice bunt in the bottom half of the fifth then reclaimed the lead for Texas at 7-5. Baylor attempted to once again battle back in the top of the sixth as Chase Gerdes led off with a base hit, stole second and moved to third on a wild pitch with no outs, but McCulloch got a strikeout and then a flyout to right that Peoples fired home and turned into an inning-ending double play. Following a scoreless sixth by both sides, Baylor went back to work in the seventh by putting runners on the corners with a leadoff double from Kevin Russo, a passed ball and a walk before a second passed ball brought in one run and a third passed ball combined with a groundout to plate the tying run.
Answering right back, the Longhorns had Johnston single to begin the bottom of the seventh, steal second and score on a two-out base hit from Peoples to grab an 8-7 lead. Baylor then put two runners on in the bottom half of the eighth with one out before third baseman Kevin Russo lifted an apparent three run home run just over the left field wall but, when Russo passed the runner at first, it went as a two-run single to give the Bears only a 9-8 advantage. While UT would get a runner to third with two outs in the bottom of the eighth, BU reliever Abe Woody managed to strike out his next batter to preserve the one-run lead. In the top of the ninth, the Bears went down quietly as Jordon Street (Austin, Texas), who came on in relief in the seventh, retired all three batters he faced. Down to their final three outs, the Longhorns looked to put the tying run on base, but Woody was able to retire each of the last three batters in order en route to tallying his 11th save of the season. Picking up the win in relief for the Bears was Tyler Bullock, who tossed one inning of relief and allowed only one run, while Street shouldered the tough loss. Of note, McCulloch worked six innings for his 10 straight start and struck out five in his effort while receiving a no-decision.
Pacing the Horns' offense, which has now collected 10 or more hits in each of its last four games, was Johnston, who extended his current hit streak to seven games with a career-tying best four hits and a career-high four runs scored, Peoples, who also tied his career-high for hits and drove in a career-best four runs, and Kainer, who registered two RBI after recording his first home run of the year. Meanwhile, the Bears were headlined by Michael Griffin, who went 3-for-5 while scoring three runs, Russo, who recorded three hits and a pair of runs scored as well as RBI, and Fortenberry, who drove in three of the Bears nine runs on the afternoon. Additionally, Stubbs, Hudson and Peoples each extended of their respective hitting streaks to five games.
Up next, the Longhorns await word on an at-large berth to the NCAA Baseball Tournament. While the 16 NCAA Regional Tournament host sites will be announced at 2:30 p.m. Central on Sunday, May 29, the entire 64-team field will be released on Monday, May 30 at 10:30 a.m. Central live on ESPN.
2005 Big 12 Tournament Postgame Notes & Quotes
· Senior shortstop Seth Johnston is now riding a seven-game hitting streak after his two-out single in the first inning. Additionally, with his 4-for-5 performance on the day, Johnston notched his team-leading 32nd multi-hit game of the year and his third four-hit effort of the 2005 campaign. He also scored a career-high four runs in the contest.
· With four hits and four RBI on the afternoon sophomore Nick Peoples has now hit safely in five straight contests and set an individual-game career high for RBI while matching his career-best for hits.
· Sophomore center fielder Drew Stubbs has reached base safely in 56 of 59 contests in 2005 and is riding a five-game hitting streak.
· Senior second baseman Robby Hudson has now hit safely in 12 of the last 13 games.
· With 13 hits on the afternoon, Texas has now posted 10 or more hits in 31 of their 59 games and in each of its four Big 12 Tournament contests this year.
· Sophomore starting pitcher Kyle McCulloch has now worked at least six innings in each of his last 10 starts after working six innings against Baylor.
Head Coach Augie Garrido
On his team's ability to battle back today: I think the whole team did that and that's why I feel so good about where the team is right now. I think there is an easy cure for the things that went wrong and decided the game. I think there is a heck of lot more to be optimistic about then there is to be disappointed in.
Senior shortstop Seth Johnston
On losing to Baylor: You're always disappointed after you lose, especially after getting swept [in the regular season] and then coming here and getting beat again by Baylor for the fourth time this year. But, now is when the season really starts. We have to put all this behind us. We had a great regular season but our year is just starting right now.
Sophomore pitcher Kyle McCulloch
On his journey to the Big 12 Tournament last night after rehabbing his back at home earlier in the week: It was a long 24 hours. I kind of had to wait around to see if we were still playing and once I got the call, I went to the airport, got on the plane and flew into Oklahoma City late last night. Then, I had to get up early today and get things going. Still, it's all part of it. I did the best I could.