COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Back-to-back home runs by Cali Lanphear and Nicole Morgan erased a three-run deficit and lifted 16th-seeded Texas A&M to a thrilling 6-5 win over Baylor Saturday afternoon at the NCAA College Station Regional.
The Aggies (41-15) advance to the Regional Championship Series tomorrow beginning at 2:30 p.m. CT on ESPN2. An if-necessary match-up is penciled in for 5 p.m. CT on ESPN. The Lady Bears (40-16) beat Arizona late Saturday evening, and now must beat A&M twice on Sunday to advance to the Super Regional.
“Obviously, I’m really excited about our ball club right now,” Head Coach Jo Evans said. “We didn’t play our best game and we didn’t do great job defensively of getting outs. It’s really tough to win a ball game when you give a team like Baylor so many more outs. For us to stay in and fight…our ball club didn’t quit. Obviously, we wouldn’t have won the game if we had quit in us. I’m proud of all 19 of our kids. They believed we could do this and they just kept fighting.”
After trailing Baylor 5-0 in the sixth, senior Mel Dumezich started the trio of home A&M runs with a two-run shot over centerfield. A three-run seventh-inning bomb by Lanphear knotted the score at five in time for Morgan to go yard over left for the walk-off win.
A&M drew three walks in the first two innings combined but couldn’t get a hit until the bottom of the third when junior Jenna Stark singled up the middle to get on base for the second time.
A Baylor grand slam in the top of the fourth gave the Lady Bears a 4-0 lead after a series of mental mistakes by A&M loaded the bags.
In the bottom of the fourth, freshman Cali Lanphear was hit by the first pitch she faced. The designated player took second on a wild pitch with no outs, but was left stranded when the inning ended.
Baylor’s lead grew to 5-0 in the top of the fifth when a string of base hits and a passed ball scored one unearned run.
Stark reached for the third time of the day in the bottom of the fifth with her second walk, joining junior Taran Tyler on the bags. Tyler entered to pinch run for senior Meagan May after the Aggie catcher pounded a base hit up the middle.
Lanphear reached base for a second time as the leadoff hitter when she chipped a base hit into the gap in right field. The freshman went down on a fielder’s choice that put junior Cassie Tysarczyk at first before Dumezich went yard over dead-centerfield to narrow the Baylor lead to 5-2.
Junior Emily Albus started the one-out, seventh-inning rally with an infield single and was joined on the bags by junior Amber Garza, who singled down the left-field line. With runners on first and second, Lanphear swung on the first pitch and sent the ball sailing over right field to tie the game at five. Morgan took advantage of the momentum and caught a pitch on the screws to homer over left field for the walk-off, 6-5 win.
“I was on deck and I just knew Cali was going to hit it out. There was no doubt in my mind. Once she did that I had a chance to relax. (Whitney Canion) threw me a change-up in my first at-bat, and I whiffed. I ran back saying, ‘I’m going to get it next time.’ She gave it to me again and I sat on it finally, and it was high, but it went out.”
Dumezich (27-7) threw seven complete innings, fanning four batters and giving up four earned runs on 11 hits and four walks for the win. Baylor ace Whitney Canion tossed 6 1/3 frames and allowed six earned runs on eight hits and five walks for the loss.
The Aggies will face Baylor at 2:30 p.m. CT Sunday on ESPN2 in a battle for the College Station Regional Championship. An if-necessary game is slated for a 5 p.m. start on ESPN2. To learn more about Texas A&M softball, log on to AggieAthletics.com and follow @AggieSoftball on Twitter.