BATON ROUGE, La. – Willie Kempf worked 6.0 shutout innings to lead Baylor to a 5-0 win over Minnesota in the second game of the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional Friday night at Alex Box Stadium.
The first six innings of the game were nearly identical to the first game of the day between LSU and Southern. Both games featured a two-run homer in the top of the first, followed by dominant pitching for most of the next five-plus frames.
“It was an extremely well-pitched game on both sides,” Baylor head coach Steve Smith said. “We got some timely hits, and it was well played, but the thing that stands out the most to me was the quality of pitching.”
Baylor’s Dustin Dickerson led off the game with a single, and Shaver Hansen laced a 2-1 offering from Minnesota starter Tom Buske well beyond the right field fence for his 17th home run of the season to give the Bears an early 2-0 lead.
“That was obviously a big hit because it lets the air out of you a little bit,” Smith said. “But it wasn’t like it was a bad pitch.”
Buske settled down and allowed only one hit to the next 20 batters he faced before Gregg Glime and Raynor Campbell hit back-to-back doubles with one out in the top of the seventh to give Baylor a 3-0 lead.
Baylor starter Willie Kempf needed only 77 pitches to work his way through 6.0 shutout innings and pick up the win. He allowed singles in the second, fourth and sixth innings, and no Minnesota runner reached second base against him.
“I had four pitches working for me today that I was able to throw for strikes,” Kempf said. “The middle infielders were making outstanding plays behind me. We got a couple runs early and took the wind out of the sails, and I just threw strikes.”
Craig Fritsch relieved Kempf starting the seventh. He worked around two hits and an error to work scoreless seventh and eighth innings, and Logan Verrett finished the shutout by striking out the side in order in the ninth.
“Their pitching staff did an outstanding job,” Minnesota head coach John Anderson said. “I was impressed with their young team and how they handled the game. We played relaxed, we competed, and that’s all you can ask; we just got beat by a better team tonight.”
Minnesota got its first runner to second base in the eighth after Kyle Geason singled and Matt Nohelty reached on an error with one out. However, Fritsch kept the shutout intact with a groundout and a foul pop behind the plate.
Buske took the loss despite a strong start. He threw 130 pitches and allowed five runs on seven hits with three walks and four strikeouts in 7.1 innings.
“I was pounding the outside fastball,” Buske said. “I was right around the outside corner most of the game, and it took a lot of outside pitches, so that’s why my pitch count was so high in seven innings.”
Hansen led off the eighth with a double, Aaron Miller walked, and both runners advanced on a sacrifice bunt, chasing Buske from the game. Luke Rasmussen came on to get the second out of the inning, then he handed the ball to Scott Matyas.
Smith countered with pinch hitter Kenton Gedwed, who delivered a two-run double to extend Baylor’s lead to 5-0. It was the ninth pinch hit of the season for Gedwed, who leads the Big 12 Conference in that category.
Baylor meets No. 3 LSU at 6 p.m. Saturday with a spot in the championship game on the line. Minnesota and Southern play a 1 p.m. elimination game.