May 29, 2009

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Kempf, Hansen lead Baylor to 5-0 first-round win

By Robert Stewart
Special to

BATON ROUGE, La. — The Baylor bats looked hot early on in the second game of the Baton Rouge regional Friday night when Baylor junior shortstop Shaver Hansen hit a two-run home run in the top of the first inning, his 17th of the season.


But it took a while for them to heat up again.


Timely hitting, good defense and a quality start by junior right-hander Willie Kempf led Baylor to a 5-0 win against Minnesota at Alex Box Stadium.


Hansen led the way at the plate for the Bears, going 2 for 4 with two RBI.


“We saw what [junior designated hitter] Dustin Dickerson found. He was a leadoff hitter and was consistent the whole day,” Hansen said. “We knew their pitcher wasn’t a flamethrower, but he could definitely hit his spots.”


The scoring was minimal for both clubs for a while after Hanson’s home run – neither team scored again until the top of the seventh.


Part of the scoreless drought can be attributed to the performance by both starting pitchers, who each went at least six innings for their respective ball clubs.


“I thought it was an extremely well-pitched game on both sides,” Baylor coach Steve Smith said. “We got a few timely hits. I thought it was well played, but I think the thing that stands out the most for me is just the quality of the pitching.”


Kempf finished with six strikeouts and gave up three hits in six innings of work.


“It was fun out there,” Kempf said. “I had four pitches working for me today that I was able to throw for a strike.”


Minnesota senior right-hander Tom Buske delivered a quality start despite giving up the home run, tossing 7.1 innings and scattering seven hits with three walks and four strikeouts.


Buske said he wasn’t rattled after giving up the early home run, using his outside fastball and keeping his off-speed pitch down in the zone to keep Baylor scoreless from the second to the sixth inning.


“I just kind of went back to trusting my stuff there after the first two innings,” Buske said. “That one home run was a changeup that I left up a little bit.”


But Buske’s offense couldn’t offer him any support, mustering only five hits in the game.


“I thought Baylor’s pitching staff did an outstanding job,” Minnesota coach John Anderson said. “I thought they had explosive stuff – good fastballs and hard breaking balls.”


The Bears had another scoring opportunity in the third inning. Hansen singled and stole second base, and junior right fielder Aaron Miller was hit by a pitch to put two Bears on base with two outs. But Baylor first baseman Dan Evatt struck out swinging to end the inning.


“I didn’t think that we’d go scoreless for however many more innings,” Hansen said. “We definitely didn’t think two runs was going to be enough.”


Both defenses made several spectacular plays to help their pitchers out. Baylor freshman second baseman Joey Hainsfurther threw out Minnesota junior catcher Kyle Knudson on a turn-around jump throw that barely made it to first base in time.


“The middle infielders were making some outstanding plays behind me,” Kempf said.


Baylor turned the offensive drought around in the top of the seventh inning. Catcher Gregg Glime doubled to right field and was brought home on an RBI double by third baseman Raynor Campbell with one out.


The Bears widened the gap with a two-run eighth inning. Hansen struck again with a double off Buske. After a walk by Miller and a sacrifice bunt by Evatt, Minnesota pulled Buske and brought in sophomore left-hander Luke Rasmussen. Rasmussen struck out senior left fielder Ben Booker then was relieved by sophomore right hander Scott Matyas, who gave up a two-run double to junior pinch-hitter Kenton Gedwed for a 5-0 Baylor lead.


“Baylor played excellently,” Anderson said. “They got two or three big hits that we weren’t able to get, and we weren’t able to string enough hits together.”


The Gophers threatened in the bottom of the eighth inning when freshman third baseman Kyle Geason singled and senior designated hitter Matt Nohelty reached on an error by Hainsfurther.

But Baylor sophomore reliever Craig Fritsch retired the next two batters to get out of the jam.

Fritsch pitched two innings, surrendering two hits and striking out two.


“Right now Craig is pitching with a great deal of confidence,” Smith said. “I thought tonight was significant for him because this is a new venue...He’s at a point in his development as a pitcher where everything like that is a step. He took another step tonight.”



Paid attendance for the game was 9,314, actual attendance was 3,247…Baylor will start sophomore right-hander Shawn Tolleson against LSU at 6 p.m. in the winners’ bracket...Minnesota will go with sophomore right-hander Seth Rosin against Southern at 1 p.m. in an elimination game.