Neither did Texas coach Augie Garrido.
"We did feel that there was a good chance he would have to be replaced," Garrido said. "It was completely unexpected that he would be able to finish the game. It's one of those wonderful surprises that, every once in while, comes along."
Consider it a perfectly timed "surprise." Pitchers would be at a premium in this series following the marathon 7-6 win at Waco that nearly reached the wee hours of Friday morning. When starting RHP Adrian Alaniz was lifted after 3-2/3 innings (six runs on five hits, five walks, four Ks), it looked like this IH-35 baseball rivalry was headed toward a high-scoring, down-to-the-wire affair, further depleting the bullpen of both squads. The fact that Krebs' went the distance not only clinched the series' for Texas but also kept Longhorn relievers off the field was "just about essential as it can get," Garrido said. The Texas coach was prepared to go with freshman LHP Kyle Walker, who pitched Thursday, as his closer but "who probably has never closed in his life." That's why Krebs' effort was "as important as a very good, sturdy bridge over the alligator trap," Garrido concluded.
Krebs raised his record to 2-0 but, more important, lifted Texas to 26-12 on the season while Baylor fell to 22-14. The Horns are now 11-2 in Big 12 play, maintaining their first-place lead over 9-2 Nebraska. The Bears fell to 7-7 after holding serve with Texas for most of the contest. Freshman RF Jordan Danks' two-out double gave Texas the lead for good, breaking a 6-6 deadlock in the bottom of the seventh.
Texas jumped on the Bears early with CF Drew Stubbs' two-run homer in the opening frame. The junior crushed LHP Cory Van Allen's 3-1 fastball over the left field wall after RF Jordan Danks reached on a walk. But Alaniz issued two bottom-of-the-order walks in the Baylor second before No. 9 batter Kevin Sevigny responded with a ground-rule double. SS Beamer Weems followed with an RBI single to knot the score at two.
Texas' two-out rally in the home half of the third began when Danks was issued a base on balls and then took second on a wild pitch. Stubbs worked an 0-2 count into a free pass. LF Carson Kainer has been a hurler's worst nightmare as of late (28 RBI in the last 19 games and a team-leading .393 batting average heading into Friday's game). The junior launched a screamer into the parking lot beyond left field, spotting Texas a three-run lead. C Preston Clark followed suit with his third round-tripper of the season, giving the Horns a league-leading 24 homers in Big 12 play.
Texas would need every one of those runs as Baylor immediately answered with a four-spot of its own.
The Bears put runners on the corners after Alaniz surrendered consecutive singles. He forced a Sevigny infield popup before his fifth walk of the contest loaded the bases. That brought LF Seth Fortenberry to the plate and Texas pitching coach Tom Holliday to the mound. Fortenberry launched a 3-2 ball (Alaniz' 91st pitch of the evening) into a deep right field for a three-run triple. Holliday had seen enough, signaling for Krebs. Zach Dillon's RBI single plated Fortenberry to tie the game at six. 3B Nick Peoples has had a heckuva hard time at the hot spot this month. The sophomore was guilty of four errors at Kansas State last weekend and allowed a two-base error on 2B Ben Booker's sharply hit grounder. The inning finally ended when Krebs forced a 1B Jeff Mandel fly-out.
2B Ben Booker's error put runners on the corners with one down, but Kainer hit into a double-play as Texas came up empty in the bottom of the fifth.
Fortenberry was issued a base after Krebs pegged him on the right shoulder, but he was thrown out trying to steal second. It was a pivotal out as the Bears would have plated a run in the top of the sixth had Fortenberry been in scoring position. C Zach Dillon laced the first pitch he saw into right field before People's was guilty of his second error of the game and 12th of the season (this time a throwing error to first) on DH Tim Jackson's grounder. (Question: why isn't Peoples in RF where he played sensationally during the 2005 post-season? Two words: Jordan Danks. This freshman is the next big thing for Texas baseball). Booker took a called third strike on a Krebs fastball before working the count full against 3B Kevin Russo. Peoples' atoned for his miscue by digging out Russo's shot down the third base line and completing the long throw to first to end the inning.
Junior Clay Van Hook replaced Peoples at 3B in the top of the seventh. Sevigny's two-out single was the extent of Baylor's damage as Krebs fanned Weems for his fifth strikeout of the evening.
"(Krebs) got better as he went on," Garrido said. "His last three innings were his best three."
SS Chaise Fuller's one-out double into left field was the first hit that Van Allen yielded since Clark's homer in the bottom of the third. Van Hook's groundout put Fuller 90-feet from home. Danks, who had not been retired all evening, then tagged a 2-2 pitch into center field for a standup RBI double. That made it a 7-6 contest and prompted a Baylor pitching change. RHP Randall Linebaugh (3.15 ERA) served up a 3-2 fastball to Stubbs as Danks got the early jump during the windup. The shot down the third base line carried almost to the warning track, giving Stubbs' his third RBI of the evening and Texas an insurance run at 8-6.
Stubbs is enjoying an All-American season in CF, including an up-against-the-wall grab to end the fifth and a diving catch in the top of the eighth.
Texas will go for the sweep, 2 p.m. Saturday at the Disch with RHP Kyle McCulloch taking the mound for the Horns.