Sunday, June 03, 2007

Houston Regional

Baylor Bears Eliminate Prairie View A&M 9-2!

An adventure was the last thing Baylor baseball coach Steve Smith wanted on Saturday at the Houston Regional.

Smith sent junior Tim Matthews to the mound for his second start of the season, and Matthews delivered the uneventful outing the Bears had hoped for against Prairie View A&M in an elimination game.

Baylor defeated the Panthers, 9-2, at Rice’s Reckling Park to extend its season by at least one more day.

Matthews, who won his only other start this season when he pitched five innings in a 13-4 win over Texas State on April 24, allowed six hits and one earned run in seven innings on Saturday.

“Tim’s seven were just what the doctor ordered,” Smith said. “We’ve kind of laid it out to our players what our plans will be. Obviously, those plans are only as good as the players who are out there.

“Tim did his job. He took the ball, went out there and threw strikes and stayed out of big innings.”

Baylor (35-27) advances to play TCU today at 2 p.m. The Horned Frogs lost to top-seeded Rice, 6-3, on Saturday night. The TCU-Baylor winner will meet Rice at 8 tonight.

Baylor still needs three wins, including two over the winner’s bracket champion, to reach the Super Regional round of the NCAA Tournament.

Baylor’s offense clicked early in the game against Prairie View A&M, helping the Bears keep to the plan of conserving their bullpen.

Baylor leadoff hitter Ben Booker walked in the bottom of the first inning and scored on a ground ball by Chase Gerdes to put the Bears ahead, 1-0.

After adding a run on two hits in the second, the Bears took command with three runs on four hits in the third. Second baseman Shaver Hansen, who went 4-for-4, got his second hit to cap the third-inning rally by driving in Dustin Dickerson.

Hansen then produced another key hit in the fifth, a two-run double to left that scored Beamer Weems and Dickerson to extend the lead to 7-1.

“I thought the key hit for us was Shaver’s two-out double,” Smith said. “That did effect pitching decisions after that and I think we got through this game pitching-wise as well as we could hope.”

Smith said he went with Matthews in part because of the junior’s experience. Matthews started 11 games in 2006, culminating with the regional championship game against Rice at Reckling Park. But he gave up five runs in three innings and lost that game against the Owls.

He’ll have a better memory of Rice’s park after Saturday.

“Being able to come out and get the start, I was very appreciative of it,” Matthews said. “I needed to go out there and have a good game to save the bullpen.”

The Baylor offense did a better job of getting to Prairie View A&M than it did earlier this season.

The Bears needed a two-run home run from Matt Sodolak to overtake the Panthers (34-25) for a 4-2 victory on April 25.

“We came out with a little more of a ‘Let’s go right now’ approach,” Baylor catcher Matt Czimskey said.

Czimskey upped Baylor’s lead to 8-2 with a solo home run in the eighth. He went 2-for-5 and drove in three runs in the game.

Smith said he doesn’t know how he’ll use his remaining starting pitchers today.

The Bears could play two games today if they continue to win. Baylor freshman starter Kendal Volz (6-2) is yet to pitch in the regional, as are Wade Mackey (4-3), Randall Linebaugh (3-5) and Willie Kempf (2-2).

Only using two pitchers could help Baylor make a run at winning the Houston Regional.

“I think it was big, but we’ll find out tomorrow,” Smith said. “It takes guys who don’t normally go seven innings, but they do it. It can be done.”

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