LUBBOCK – Baylor’s pitchers stuck their hand in the fire too many times. The Bears eventually got burned.
Cody Masters came through with a clutch, walk-off single up the middle off Baylor’s Logan Freeman in the bottom of the ninth, sending the 16th-ranked Texas Tech to their first lead of the series and a 3-2 win over No. 18 Baylor at Dan Law Field on Friday night.
It was a rough outing for Freeman (0-1), who gave up four hits, four walks and both the tying and winning runs in his two-inning stint out of the bullpen.
Texas Tech (24-13, 7-7) rallied to tie the series at a game apiece. For the Bears (26-11, 9-4), it was a game of far too many free passes from the pitching staff, as Baylor issued 11 walks on the night.
In the bottom of the ninth, Freeman surrendered two singles and a walk to load the bases, but still was only an out away from escaping. That’s when Masters dribbled one back up the middle for a single, and Tech celebrated in raucous fashion.
Paul Dickens didn’t have the cleanest of outings, but the junior left-hander was effective for the Bears. Dickens gave up a hit or a walk in each of his six innings, but yielded only one run and left with a 2-1 lead. Unfortunately for Dickens, the bullpen couldn’t hang on to that lead.
The Red Raiders put a pair of runners on base with two outs off BU reliever Ryan Leckich in the seventh. Luke Boyd entered out of the bullpen for the Bears to face Tech’s Josh Jung, the preseason Big 12 player of the year. Boyd fell behind 3-0 in the count before battling back to strike out Jung for a huge K to end the threat.
In the eighth, Boyd got two quick outs, but appeared to injure his groin on a strikeout of Dylan Neuse. Freeman came out of the bullpen to relieve Boyd, and struggled to throw strikes. Freeman issued two walks and gave up a single to load the bases. Baylor coach Steve Rodriguez opted to leave Freeman in the game, and the decision backfired, as Freeman walked Gabe Holt to force in the tying run.
Davis Wendzel gave Baylor an early lead in the third. Nick Loftin led the inning off by reaching on a throwing error from Tech third baseman Parker Kelly that allowed Loftin to go to second. Loftin moved to third on a sacrifice bunt, then scored on Wendzel’s RBI grounder to third.
Baylor scored first, going up 1-0 in the second when Shea Langeliers singled and eventually came around to score on a wild pitch by the starter Micah Dallas. The Red Raiders responded in the bottom of the inning, but it could have been a lot worse. Doug Facendo put a charge into one, drilling the ball deep to center for a sacrifice fly, but Richard Cunningham made a fantastic leaping catch to take away a potential extra-base hit.
That’s the way the score remained until the eighth.
The teams will conclude the series at 2 p.m. Saturday.