Baylor beats Arizona, advances to Fort Worth Regional championship

By Chris Derrett

On Friday, Baylor gave five unearned runs to Arizona in a 10-9 Wildcat victory. Arizona returned the favor in Sunday’s matchup, as the Bears caught a few breaks and supported Willie Kempf’s brilliant outing to win 4-2.

Baylor (36-23) advances to the championship round, where it will try to overcome the fatigue of three hours in 100 degree heat and beat TCU at 7 p.m.

Arizona (34-24) starter Tyler Hale assisted a struggling Raynor Campbell in the seventh inning. Campbell, who dropped to 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position at the Fort Worth Regional, swung at a slider in the dirt for strike three with two outs at Logan Vick standing at third.

The ball skipped to the backstop, and Vick scored while Campbell reached first safely and Baylor tied the game at two.

“I was pretty sure (Campbell) would swing at a hard slider in the dirt. Honestly, there were a couple of really timely breaks,” coach Steve Smith said.

An inning later an intentional walk put Max Muncy on first and pinch runner Chris Slater on second for Josh Turley. Turley smacked a grounder to shortstop Alex Mejia, but Mejia’s misplay left the bases loaded.

Landis Ware sacrificed flied to right, bringing in Slater, and Logan Vick added an insurance run with an RBI double.

Kempf suffered mild struggles through the first two innings, allowing five of his seven total hits. The Wildcats led off the second singling in consecutive at-bats before a Mejia two-RBI double scored both runners. But after consulting catcher Gregg Glime, Kempf settled down for the rest of his career long eight innings.

“In the first couple innings I was really on the side of my cutter,” Kempf said. “After that (catcher Gregg Glime and I) really started locating the fastball well and using the cutter whenever we were ahead in the count.”

The Baylor bats finally awakened in the third inning when Max Muncy blooped a single for his team’s first hit. He scored two batters later via Ware’s sacrifice fly to right.

When the Bears finally took the lead in the eighth, the team was glad to finally line up Kempf for the win.

“It was a huge relief because Willie was doing his job. He only kept them to two runs, so we’re trying to do everything we can to get a lead for him,” Vick said.

Kempf’s final line read 8.0 innings, two runs, seven hits, eight strikeouts and zero walks. He tossed 121 pitches.

Craig Fritsch takes the mound in tonight’s game as Baylor fights for its tournament life.

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