AUSTIN, Texas – The Texas Longhorns grinded out a 2-1 win over the No. 7 Baylor Bears on Saturday afternoon at UFCU Disch-Falk Field to wrap up the regular season.
Texas (30-20, 14-10 Big 12) scored the game-winning run in the bottom of the eighth when Jonathan Walsh scored on a wild pitch and rightfielder Mark Payton gunned Adam Toth down at third base for the second out of the ninth inning to seal the deal.
The Longhorns drew first blood in the top of the first inning. Payton rattled a hit into the corner down the rightfield line for a double and scored when Erich Weiss dropped a single down the leftfield line, staking the Longhorns to a 1-0 lead.
The lead held up for three innings, before the Bears pounced in the fifth. With one out, Nathan Orf drew a walk and Max Muncy singled up the middle to put runners on the corners. Logan Vick hit a sacrifice fly to rightfield to plate Orf with the equalizer.
Texas appeared to score a go-ahead run in the seventh inning, but the tally was wiped out with an interference call. Tim Maitland was hit by a pitch to start the inning. With one out, Payton singled through the right side of the infield to put runners on the corners. Weiss hit a slow roller to short and the Bears looked unable to turn the inning-ending double play, which would have allowed Maitland to score, but Payton was ruled to have not slid directly into second base giving Baylor the double play.
The Longhorns would eventually claim the lead in the eighth. Walsh started the inning with a double down the rightfield line. Jacob Felts pushed Walsh to third with a grounder to second base and Walsh scored when Baylor reliever Ryan Smith uncorked a wild pitch, giving Texas a 2-1 lead.
Baylor (42-12, 20-4 Big 12) brewed up trouble to start the ninth inning. Toth laced a ball into the gap in left centerfield. Maitland raced to make the diving play from his centerfield position, but the ball came dislodged from his ground when he made impact with the ground putting Toth on second with a leadoff double. With the Bears knocking on the door, Payton made one of the Longhorns’ top defensive plays of the year. Orf hit a fly ball of medium depth. Toth made the move to third, but Payton threw a one-bounce laser for the double play. Muncy grounded out to second to end the game as Texas staved off the sweep.
Hoby Milner (7-4) worked 4.1 shutout innings of relief to earn the win. He scattered two hits and three walks. John Curtiss pitched 4.2 innings in his first career Big 12 start. He allowed one run on seven hits and two walks while striking out three.
Smith (3-1) was saddled with the loss for Baylor. He allowed one run on one hit over 1.0 innings. Tyler Bremer pitched 4.0 innings, plus one batter, in the start for the Bears, allowing one run on four hits and one walk while fanning four. Dillon Newman worked 3.0 innings of scoreless relief, allowing one hit while striking out two.
Payton led Texas’ offense going 3-for-3 with one double and one run.
Muncy, Ludy and Toth each had two hits for Baylor.
The Longhorns benefitted from five double plays on the afternoon, including four ground-ball double plays. The Bears also stranded 10 runners on the day and had bases loaded in three separate innings resulting in a double play and two flyouts.
Texas returns to action on Wednesday when the Longhorns head to Oklahoma City for the Big 12 Championship at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark. The Longhorns enter the double-elimination tournament as the No. 3 seed and will face the Missouri Tigers at a yet to be determined time.