By Rachel Caton
In their first true road game of the season, the Bears battled the Sam Houston State Bearkats in a back-and-forth contest, but ultimately fell 8-7 Tuesday night at Don Sanders Stadium in Huntsville.
Baylor (13-6) scored a run in the top of the first inning without the benefit of a hit as two walks, a sacrifice bunt and a couple of SHSU errors manufactured a run for the Bears.
The Bearkats (13-5) pulled ahead 4-1 after plating four runs in the third inning, but the Bears answered back in the fourth after beginning the inning with three consecutive walks before Josh Bissonette bounced into a run-scoring 6-4-3 double play. Ryan Bertelsman followed with a pinch-hit bloop single that chased in Davion Downey and brought Baylor within a run.
Richard Cunningham blasted a solo shot in the top of the fifth, his second homer of the year, to tie the score at 4-4.
The score would stay tied as Baylor reliever Jacob Ashkinos tossed a season-high three innings without allowing a run. He struck out the side in the bottom of the fifth, part of his four-punchout outing, another season-high.
The Bearkats edged in front in the bottom of the seventh due to some unlucky breaks for the Bears. An apparent double play was in order, but a throw from Andy Thomas to second base bounced off the runner’s shoulder and into the outfield, allowing SHSU to score the first of their three runs in the inning to go up 7-4.
But once again, Baylor countered in the top of the eighth as Thomas singled to right field and subsequently scored on a Shea Langeliers triple that was laced to the deepest part of the park in straightaway center field. Downey then drove home Langeliers with a sacrifice fly to left that made it 7-6.
Cole Haring restarted the rally with an infield single, went on to steal second and then advanced to third base on a wild pitch. A two-out single by Nick Loftin tied the ballgame at 7-7, but that was all the Bears would get as they stranded two runners on base to end the inning.
The Bearkats landed the final punch in the bottom of the eighth with a triple by Gavin Johnson and an RBI groundout by Reese Johnson to go ahead 8-7.
In the bottom of the ninth, Langeliers ignited a bid for a two-out rally with a double down the third base line. After Downey was intentionally walked, Haring grounded out to third base for the final out.
The Bears will open Big 12 conference play this weekend as West Virginia travels down to Waco for a three-game series. Game 1 will be Friday at 6:35 p.m. and the first 1,000 fans receive a replica 2018 Big 12 Tournament Championship ring.