LUBBOCK, Texas – Baylor scored two runs in each of the first three innings Saturday as the 12th-ranked Lady Bears claimed a 6-4 series-clinching victory over Texas Tech at Rocky Johnson Field.
The loss dropped the Red Raiders to 27-11 on the season and 0-2 in Big 12 Conference play while Baylor improved to 26-6 overall and 2-1 now in league action.
“We gave Baylor too many free opportunities with walks and such today,” Tech head coach Shanon Hays said. “I was glad to see us hit the ball better today, but you just can’t fall into that big of a hole early against a good team like that.”
Baylor had its leadoff hitter reach base in six of seven innings with four of those coming via a walk or hit-by-pitch. The free passes led to three of six Baylor runs in the first three innings as the Lady Bears struck first for the second-straight day.
Tech starter Cara Custer (10-5) matched her career high with seven walks as the right-hander earned the loss after allowing six runs, four of which that were earned, off five hits in four innings of work.
Clair Hosack continued her strong weekend at the plate, driving in Baylor’s first run in the first inning off a sacrifice fly before adding her third home run of the series and her ninth of the year with a solo shot that led off the third.
The Lady Bears also picked up a RBI single from Linsey Hays in the first and an Ari Hawkins RBI ground out an inning later to build their early lead. Hays finished the day 2-for-4 at the plate.
The Red Raiders began to mount a slight comeback off Baylor starter Heather Stearns in the fourth as Gretchen Aucoin unloaded a RBI double to right field while Kierra Miles followed shortly after with a RBI single.
Lea Hopson added another run for Tech an inning later with a RBI double of her own that scored Sydni Emanuel. The double extended Hopson’s hitting streak to a season-best nine games.
Sterns (10-1) settled down from there, however, retiring Tech in order in both the sixth and seventh innings to pick up the win in a complete-game effort. She finished with three earned runs against her off six hits while striking out 11 as well.
Two of Tech’s four runs off Stearns were scored by Emanuel, who finished 2-for-4 at the plate with her Big 12-leading 29th stolen base of the year. The performance marked Emanuel’s team-leading 15th multiple-hit game this year.
Both teams finished with six hits apiece as Tech reliever Brittany Talley came on in relief to settle down the Baylor offense over the final three innings. Talley allowed just one hit while plunking one after relieving Custer with no outs in the fifth inning.
Tech will look to salvage the series in Sunday’s series finale that is scheduled for a 12 p.m. first pitch at Rocky Johnson Field.