STILLWATER, Okla. – Gordon Gekko made famous the expression, “Greed is good.”
When it comes to winning, Baylor baseball coach Steve Rodriguez wants his team to be as greedy as possible.
In a wild game where the lead constantly yo-yoed between the two teams, Baylor used a three-run eighth inning to move in front for good in an 8-7 win over Oklahoma State Sunday at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium. The Bears (32-17 overall, 11-10 Big 12) completed the series sweep with the win, giving the program its first road sweep in Big 12 play since April 2012 against Kansas State.
It continued a late-season surge for Baylor, which has won 13 of its past 18 games and has taken three of its past four conference series, including the past two on the road.
“We’re finally putting it together when the postseason is about to start, and it’s really exciting,” Baylor closer Troy Montemayor said.
The teams swapped the lead back and forth four times until Baylor pushed in front for good in the eighth. The Bears trailed 7-5 when the inning began, but didn’t show any nerves, as four of the first five hitters of the inning stroked singles.
“Our hitters don’t really freak out or feel pressured, even when they’re behind,” BU pitcher Drew Robertson said.
Josh Bissonette’s single up the middle brought the score to 7-6, then nine-hole hitter Tucker Cascadden followed with a RBI single to left to tie the game.
Oklahoma State (24-24, 6-14) turned to one of its best bullpen arms, freshman Jonathan Heasley, to try to stem the tide. But Levi Gilcrease drew a walk off Heasley to load the bases, then Richard Cunningham added a walk of his own to force home what amounted to be the winning run.
“I tell you what, Oklahoma State is a team with a lot of tenacious fight in them,” Rodriguez said. “I know their record may not show it, but they’ve got some impressive hitters, some good guys on the mound, a great defense. We made some mistakes throughout the game. … But I think it says a lot about our guys watching them come back bigger, show some fight and do the little things it takes to win a ballgame.”
Cunningham got the scoring started in the first inning, tagging a one-out solo home run to give Baylor a 1-0 lead. The Cowboys bounced back in the bottom of the inning with two runs off BU starter Cody Bradford. Garrett Benge ripped a solo shot, then Bradford allowed two straight singles, including an RBI knock from former all-Big 12 outfielder Ryan Sluder.
Baylor grabbed a 3-2 lead in the fourth, as hot-hitting senior Aaron Dodson belted an RBI single. The Bears scored another run in the inning on an OSU error.
They extended the gap to 5-2 an inning later when Shea Langeliers connected for a two-run smash over the left-field wall. The home run was Langeliers’ eighth of the season, tying him with Dodson for the team lead.
But Oklahoma State had another answer. The Cowboys scored two runs in the fifth and three more in the sixth, as Baylor relievers Hayden Kettler and Hunter Seay couldn’t hold onto the lead. The Bears also didn’t help themselves in the field in those innings, committing two errors that aided the Cowboy charge.
“Our theme lately has just been finish,” Cunningham said. “As we look here to the end of the season and the Big 12 tournament and (NCAA) regionals, we know we have to finish strong. We’ve got to have that relentlessness.”
The Bears’ finish was a forceful one. In addition to the eighth-inning rally at the plate, they received some dynamic contributions from their top bullpen arms. Robertson (2-0) pitched a flawless seventh inning on his way to the win, while Montemayor generated a five-out save, his second in two days and his 12th of the season.
OSU pushed the tying run to third base in the eighth, but Montemayor escaped with a clutch strikeout. In the ninth, he issued a leadoff walk, but that was quickly wiped out by a double play. Another groundout closed the book on the Cowboys, which reached the College World Series last season.
Rodriguez said that he’s enjoying the way his team has responded to adversity in recent weeks.
“It’s neat as a coach, you just kind of stay out of their way a little bit, let them play,” the coach said. “They’re feeling free, feeling good and confident, and I like that, because then I don’t have to overcoach and tell them everything they need to do.”
Baylor will play its final road game of the year on Tuesday at UT-San Antonio. Then the Bears, who have already clinched a spot in the Big 12 tournament, will close out the regular season with a home series against Kansas State Thursday through Saturday.