Horns Sweep Bears Back To Waco, 5-4

RF Jordan Danks and 1B Chance Wheeless tallied a pair of RBI singles in the bottom of the fifth, lifting No. 6 Texas to a 5-4 win and a series sweep against No. 19 Baylor at Disch-Falk Field Saturday. But the afternoon took on a somber note when Danks suffered a right ankle injury and was carried off the field in the top of the eighth.

Texas coach Augie Garrido said that Danks would be X-rayed late Saturday but the extent of his injury was unknown immediately after the Horns raised their record to 27-12.

"It certainly is a sprain," Garrido said, "but we don't think if it's worse than that."

RHP Kyle McCulloch (5-4) picked up the win after allowing eight hits and three runs (two earned) while fanning six and walking one in five innings. The Longhorns are now 12-2 in league play, enjoying their best start since the 2000 team opened Big 12 action with a 14-2 mark.

"There'll be a way to jinx that," Garrido said, "so let's not get too full of ourselves right now. We've got a long way to go."

The Bears tallied 13 hits while facing four Longhorn pitchers but committed three costly errors. The Horns manufactured their five runs off seven hits while committing one miscue (another at third base). The difference is that Texas came up with the clutch hits while Baylor scattered theirs like fertilizer on an April lawn.

"That probably is the one thing that separated the two teams," Garrido said. "Besides that, I think they looked very much alike."

Danks, leading off for the first time this season, was issued a base on balls in the bottom of the first. The freshman stole second before reaching third on C Zach Dillon's throwing error. Carson Kainer, entering the game with a team-leading 42 RBI, plated Danks on a sacrifice fly to right field to give Texas an early 1-0 lead.

The Bears jumped on top, 2-1, in the top of the third courtesy of three hits and a Longhorn error. SS Beemer Weems got things started with a leadoff single before Dillon's RBI single tied the score, 1-1. 1B Tim Jackson was the third Bruin to single off McCulloch in the inning. With runners on the corner, 3B Bradley Suttle could not cleanly field DH Kyle Russo sharply hit grounder as Baylor took its first lead since the series shifted back to Austin. (Suttle shifted over to the hot corner for this game after regular third baseman Nick Peoples was guilty of two errors Friday, four since Sunday and 12 on the season).

The Horns answered in the home half of the third as SS Chais Fuller tallied Texas' first base hit of the ballgame. He took third on Jackson's two-base fielding error (Baylor's third miscue in as many innings) before Danks' sacrifice fly into left-center made it a 2-2 contest. CF Drew Stubbs would push Texas ahead 3-2, without a Longhorn hit. The junior gradually rounded the bases with a walk, a balk, Chance Wheeless' deep fly, before racing home on Tim Matthews' wild pitch.

"Even if you don't play well the whole game and still come out with a win, you end up feeling pretty good about yourself," Stubbs said,

The bottom of the Baylor order produced back-to-back base hits in the bottom of the fourth. Singles from CF Chase Gerdes and RF Kevin Sevigny put runners on the corners with no outs as the Bears threatened. Weems hit into a double-play but plated Gerdes to knot the affair at three.

Texas answered in the bottom of the fifth. Fuller slapped one down the left field line as the SS got things started with a standup double. Danks' bloop single into center field plated Fuller but the Horns weren't done. RHP Jake Weghorst replaced Matthews on the mound, but Wheeless sent his hanging breaking ball into right field to score Danks. The Horns took a 5-3 lead into the top of the sixth when Kenn Kasparek came on in relief. The big lefty gave up a pair of two-out singles before Stubbs chased down Seth Fortenberry's deep fly ball at the warning track in center field.

Dillon's lead-off single in the top of the seventh was his third base hit of the ballgame. Russo's two-out walk put runners on the corners, bringing the go-ahead run to the plate and LHP Kyle Walker to the hill. DH Jeff Mandel, staring at 1-2 count, hit into a force-out at second to kill the brief Baylor uprising.

Mandel took the mound in the bottom of the frame and issued a one-out walk to Danks. Stubbs' infield single ricocheted off Weems' glove but Danks turned his right ankle as he applied the brakes heading into second. The game was temporarily suspended while the freshman lay with his head on the bag. He was helped to the dugout while Nick Peoples took his place on the base path. The junior also took Danks' place in RF, a spot where he excelled in post-season play during the 2005 national championship season.

Baylor threatened to regain the lead in the top of the eighth, beginning with Sevigny's one-out single. Facing a full-count with two down, Fortenberry launched Walker's breaking ball deep into right field. Against the wall, Peoples' couldn't come down with the third out as the Bears cut into the Texas lead, 5-4. Walker knocked down Dillon's sizzler up the middle, retiring the Baylor SS for the first time on the afternoon and to limit the damage to one run.

C Preston Clark tallied a two-out double into left field in the Longhorn eighth. But pinch hitter Hunter Harris -- the senior who notched the game-winning RBI during Thursday's 13-inning marathon -- grounded out to send the one-run game into the final frame. The middle of the Baylor order faced LHP Austin Wood (who was credited with the 7-6 win Thursday at Waco). For the first time Saturday, the Bears were retired in order. It begs the question if Woods has emerged as a reliable closer, a position once taken for granted in these parts but MIA during an otherwise successful 2006 campaign up to this point.

"Somebody has to step up," Garrido concluded. "(Joseph) Krebs performance (Friday) night was pretty unexpected and a great surprise. He actually felt like he could pitch today. If he bounces back that quickly and continues to perform, it would be great. Wood seems to have found a groove and has found his confidence. He's attacking the hitters and getting good results."

It sets up the biggest series of the season next weekend. Following a Tuesday road-trip to UT-San Antonio, Texas hosts Nebraska for a three-game set beginning Friday, 6:00 p.m. (CDT). The Horns (12-2) hold a one-game lead over the Huskers (10-2) in league standings so the April 21-23 showdown could well determine the Big 12 regular season champ.


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