Arkansas earns CWS berth by beating Baylor
WACO, Texas (AP) — Jake Wise and Colby Suggs were at the bottom of the pile of Arkansas players in the middle of the infield and enjoying every second of it.
The Razorbacks are headed to the College World Series.
Wise, a sophomore catcher who had entered the game as a defensive replacement, had a two-out RBI single in the top of the 10th and Suggs threw the final two innings in Arkansas’ 1-0 victory over Baylor in the deciding game of their super regional Monday night.
“You get so excited, and when you’re on the bottom you can’t breathe, but it’s a feeling you’ve wanted to feel your entire life,” Wise said. “I’ve waited 20 years to be in a dog pile, and that was probably the best feeling of my life.”
When Suggs (7-0) struck out Dan Evatt to end the game with two runners on base, Wise charged toward his pitcher and they were quickly joined in celebration by the rest of their teammates.
“It’s a great feeling to have everybody on top of you,” Suggs said. “Everybody just celebrating and being so happy together as a team.”
Suggs, the fifth Arkansas pitcher in the combined five-hitter, struck out two and walked two while allowing one hit over the last two innings. The hard-throwing sophomore has gotten all his victories pitching in relief.
It will be the seventh CWS appearance for the Razorbacks (44-20), who play Kent State on Saturday. Arkansas clinched the final available spot in Omaha, where it will join fellow SEC teams Florida and South Carolina.
“We feel very fortunate to get out of here with two wins and have a chance to continue our season,” Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. “At this level, 1-0 in extra innings to go to Omaha, I don’t know if it gets any better. I know baseball purists probably love this game. As a coach, it was very stressful. Thank goodness it’s over.”
Baylor (49-17) last went to the College World Series in 2005.
After failing to win a game in the SEC tournament, the Razorbacks swept through their regional at Houston.
Then after losing the opener of the best-of-three series in Waco on Saturday, Arkansas forced another game by scoring twice in the bottom of the ninth of Game 2 to win 5-4. The Razorbacks took advantage of an error while loading the bases before consecutive batters were hit by pitches with the bases loaded.
Brian Anderson led off the Arkansas 10th Monday against Dillon Newman (4-4) with a single to left, and moved up on a sacrifice bunt by Bo Bigham. Matt Vinson struck out before Wise, who entered the game in the eighth, grounded a ball into left field out of the reach of diving shortstop Steve DalPorto.
Baylor senior starter Tyler Bremer struck out eight and allowed three hits in nine innings, the longest outing of his career.
“It was awesome, it was fun. Yeah, we lost, but no one’s going to take that away from me,” Bremer said. “I’ll remember that for the rest of my life. Whether I have a short pro career, a long pro career, I have something I can really, really be proud of in the game of baseball, and that was that game.”
Baylor had two outs in the 10th before Big 12 Player of the Year Josh Ludy, who had 16 home runs, walked for the fourth consecutive time. Cleanup hitter Max Muncy, who grounded into a double play in the eighth, followed with a single to left before Evatt struck out to end the game.
It was the third time this season Baylor was shut out, the first time in three months.
After scoring three runs in the fifth inning of Game 2 to take a 4-3 lead, Baylor didn’t score again over the final 14 innings in the series. The Bears had their leadoff batter on base six times Monday night, including the sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth innings.
Meanwhile, after a one-out double in the first, Bremer retired 16 consecutive batters and didn’t throw more than 10 pitches in an inning until the sixth.
“I thought we pushed (Bremer) about as far as we could. I don’t really question the decision to take him out,” Bears coach Steve Smith said. “When you’ve gone that much, you’ve done your part. We needed to pick it up for him. And you know, Dillon wasn’t bad. Seeing-eye groundball that gets through.”
Razorbacks starter Randall Fant struck out five and allowed two hits over four innings. Trent Daniel, the fourth pitcher, had 1 1-3 hitless innings before giving way to Suggs.
Baylor had the bases loaded in the fourth against Fant before Lawton Langford struck out. The Bears had the bases loaded again in the fifth against reliever Nolan Sanburn after three walks before Muncy grounded out.