Seven Baylor Errors Help Horns Put Away Bears

Baylor ace Kendal Volz doesn't usually get much support from his teammates. The Bears offense is scoring 7.3 runs per game this season, but entering this weekend's series against Texas, they averaged just 4.3 in his starts. On Friday, he didn't get any support from his defense, either.

Seven Baylor errors, coupled with an up-and-down performance from Volz, led to a slew of unearned runs and a 12-4 Longhorns victory in Friday night's series opener.

The Longhorns took a 1-0 lead in the first inning after cleanup hitter Kevin Lusson poked a single into right field, bringing home Travis Tucker. Brandon Belt later came around to score on a wild pitch.

The Texas hitters could tell from the beginning that Volz didn't come into the game with his best stuff.

"We saw [Volz] struggling out there and waited for the pitch that we can hit and we hit him," said centerfielder Connor Rowe. "We noticed that as a team and we kind of took control of that. We could tell something was up and something was wrong."

Texas starting pitcher Chance Ruffin kept Baylor off the scoreboard in the second, once again setting the stage for the Texas offense.

Cameron Rupp led off the inning with a single, and Rowe crushed a two-run homer to left-center field, giving Texas a 4-0 lead. The round-tripper was Rowe's fifth of the season, tying him with Belt for the team lead.

Apparently outfielder Morgan Mickan saw it coming from a mile away.

"Morgan Mickan asked me how I hit [in batting practice] today," Rowe said, "and I said I hit pretty well. He was like ‘Yeah, you're going to hit one off the scoreboard tonight.' I was a little short."

Baylor made its first two errors in the third inning, leading to an unearned run.

But the Bears began to fight back off Ruffin, who wasn't at his best on Friday. Aaron Miller belted a solo home run in the third and then he came back with an RBI double in the fifth. First baseman Dan Evatt doubled home Miller, cutting the Longhorns lead to 5-3.

Meanwhile, Volz began to settle down. The talented right-hander held Texas scoreless in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings, allowing Baylor to re-gain momentum and get back into the game.

Texas coach Augie Garrido was impressed with Volz's performance.

"I thought [Volz] pitched a good game," said Garrido. "He's got a good arm, a good breaking ball, and he's got good command. I thought we did a pretty good job in the first three innings and then I thought we got a little defensive at the plate."

Baylor made it a one-run game in the top of the sixth after leadoff hitter Dustin Dickerson singled home catcher Gregg Glime.

Ruffin left the game with the slim lead after six innings, and Garrido liked the way his starting pitcher battled against a good offense.

"I was proud of Ruffin," he said. "He didn't have his best stuff and he went through six innings and put us in position to win. That's hard to do. That is a good pitcher."

Although he had thrown 115 pitches through six innings, BU coach Steve Smith chose to bring Volz out for the seventh.

It didn't go well, but it also wasn't entirely Volz's fault.

The Longhorns put the game away by scoring four runs in the bottom of the seventh on four hits and two more costly Baylor errors. Volz recorded just one out in the frame and ended up throwing 120 or more pitches for the fourth consecutive start.

"You give up a two-strike hit to start that inning and then misplay a ball and that's all it took to turn into a big inning," Smith said. "I was trying to get Kendal to get through the inning. You roll the dice sometimes. We were basically one pitch away in that inning."

The Baylor defense wasn't done. Reliever Reed Woytek recorded the first two outs of the eighth inning before Brandon Loy singled to center. After two consecutive errors brought home one run, Connor Rowe struck once again with a two-run single, giving him a five-RBI night and the ‘Horns a 12-4 lead.

After the game, Smith felt the separation between the two teams was clear.

"I thought the difference in the game -- they played the game well, they played very focused, they were able to perform," he said. "We had a hard time just playing catch. With this group of guys, it's a little too much of an emotional rollercoaster."

Senior closer Austin Wood, who picked up his eleventh save after tossing three scoreless innings in the game, knows the Bears could easily pick up momentum by playing the last two games in Waco. That's why he says it is important to pick up the all-important Friday home victory.

"It's big to start off the series with a win," Wood explained. "Especially doing it against a Baylor team like that in front of our home crowd, it's good. Baylor is a tough place to play. They always bring out a good crowd and it's a hostile environment. We'll see how the young guys handle it."

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