Bases on balls.
Many a baseball coach has opted for early retirement or an early grave because his pitching staff could not throw strikes. Baylor coach Gene Etter has been around long enough to have seen it all before -- twice. But Friday afternoon's walk-a-thon could not have been much more disappointing than it actually was.
Baylor pitchers walked 11 Brentwood Academy Eagles, hit another and saw four of those gifts score in an 8-7 see-saw affair on a frigid Friday at Baylor. Adding insult to injury, the eventual winning run scored on a balk in the top of the seventh after a single, sacrifice and wild put the runner on third.
"It's discouraging, but we still had a chance to go out and win it," Etter said. "That's a tough way to give up a run."
In truth, neither side's pitching did much to impress -- that is, until big Will Haynie came on in the seventh and blew the Red Raiders away in order. Haynie struck out one, but Etter said that the big right-hander twice hit 91 MPH on Baylor's speed gun.
Brentwood Academy coach Buddy Alexander said that Hayne's availability was some good fortune left over from his complete game win on Thursday.
"He worked five innings, threw maybe 59 pitches," the coach explained. "But there was nothing pretty about this game. I thought we had three chances to break the game open and put it away and didn't do it. And you could count on Baylor never going away."
The Red Raiders (6-2) answered every BA challenge but the final one
The visitors jumped on starter Michael Bachus early, as Kyle Conger connected for a two-run homer with two out in the first inning. But Baylor answered it with a two spot of its own -- Blake Layne's two-out, RBI single the biggest clutch hit of the inning.
Bachus failed to make it through four innings, but his relief comforted no one. A four-run BA fourth inning was excruciating for the hometown fans, as it included five bases on balls and a hit batsman. Tyler Swafford also contributed the first of his two RBI singles in the inning.
Baylor's big blow came in the fourth -- a two-run home run from No. 9 hitter Davis Culpepper, well over the centerfield fence. That closed the gap to 6-5, and Baylor finally re-tied the game 7-7 in the sixth.
In the fifth, Brentwood Academy reliever Ryan Victory hit Colton Jumper and Jackson Cooper consecutively and Bryson Crimmins brought the run home on a ground ball. The tying run came in an inning later on back-to-back doubles from Taylor Maxey and Tanner Hulse.
For the Red Raiders (6-2), Hulse and Alex Anderson had two hits and Cooper joined Culpepper with a pair of RBIs. Kyle Conger had the big day for the Eagles with two hits, two RBIs and three runs scored.
Baylor, which is in the middle of its spring break, does not play again until next weekend.
"We're giving them three days off and told them to forget about baseball for awhile," Etter said. "But I don't think they needed us to tell them that."
Brentwood Academy 200 410 1 -- 8 6 0
Baylor 201 211 0 -- 7 7 0
Jackson, Victory (4), Haymie (7) and Haynie, Victory (7); Bachus, Culpepper (4), Hulse (5) and Layne.