By Rachel Caton
WACO — It took some bottom of the ninth heroics, but the Bears walked off West Virginia, 6-5, in the Big 12 opener on Friday evening at Baylor Ballpark.
Davis Wendzel waited until the big moment for his first hits of the day, driving home Nick Loftin who reached on a single to lead off the inning and advanced to second on a sac bunt to give the Bears (14-6) the 6-5 victory in the bottom of the ninth inning.
The Bears were led on the day by Shea Langeliers, who was 3-for-4 , while Wendzel led the team with two RBIs.
The Bears were down early, as a two-run home run with two outs by Marques Inman in the top of the first put the Mountaineers up early. The Bears answered right back, however, plating two runs of their own, first on an RBI triple by Richard Cunningham and a second on an RBI ground out by Andy Thomas.
The Bears added one more in the bottom of the third on a Nick Loftin sacrifice fly, bringing home Josh Bissonette, who tripled to lead off the inning. The run put the Bears up for the first time on the day, 3-2.
Baylor starter Paul Dickens settled in after his first inning of trouble, and struck out a career-high nine batters in 6.0 innings of work. He put up zeroes in the second, third and fourth before hitting some trouble in the fifth inning. The Mountaineers plated three on a bases-clearing double by Inman, making it a 5-3 ballgame. Dickens put up one more zero before the Bears went to the bullpen. He allowed five runs on six hits, walking two and striking out a career-high nine.
Baylor’s bullpen shut things down for the next three frames, allowing the offense to make the comeback.
Jacob Ashkinos entered first in relief, and got the first two outs of the seventh before giving way to Ryan Leckich, who entered for the lefty-lefty matchup. Leckich ended up throwing 2.0 innings, allowing just 2 hits and striking out two. With two out and one on in the top of the ninth, Kyle Hill entered and got the out to give the Bears the ability to complete the comeback in the bottom half of the inning.
Offensively, the Bears chipped away at the deficit, adding one run in the seventh on a sac fly from Wendzel, making it 5-4, Mountaineers.
In the eighth, Shea Langeliers led off the inning with a single, took second on a balk and a sac bunt by Davion Downey put the game-tying run just 90 feet away with one out. At that point the Bears chased West Virginia’s ace, Alek Manoah, who gave way for reliever Sam Kessler. With two out, Bissonette singled to right to make it a tie ballgame.
In the bottom of the ninth against Kessler, the Bears manufactured the game-winning run. Loftin led things off with a single to right and Cunningham laid down a perfect sac bunt to put the game-winning run in scoring position. Wendzel took the 1-0 offering from Kessler back up the middle to plate the game-winning run.
Baylor reliever Kyle Hill earned the win to improve to 3-0 on the year, while Kessler took the loss for West Virginia, falling to 1-1.