May 31, 2009

BATON ROUGE, La.-- Third-seeded Baylor rallied for seven runs in the bottom of the ninth, but it was not enough to overcome a 10-run deficit at the inning's start as the Bears dropped a 15-12 decision to second-seeded and 21st-ranked Minnesota in an elimination game Sunday in the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional at Alex Box Stadium. Baylor (30-25) concludes its 2009 season, while Minnesota (40-18) advances to face top-seeded and second-ranked LSU in the championship round.

Baylor 5-3 through six innings, but Minnesota scored 13 runs in the next three innings to take a commanding 15-5 lead. Derek McCallum's two-out RBI double got the scoring started for the Golden Gophers, and Michael Kvasnicka followed with a game-tying, two-run homer. Minnesota took the lead in the eighth on AJ Pettersen's one-out, bases-loaded, two-run single to center. The Gophers tacked on three more runs in the inning and plated five runs on three hits and a Baylor error in the ninth.

However, the Bears did not go away quietly, scoring seven runs on eight hits and getting the potential tying run into the on-deck circle in a ninth-inning fueled by the team's four seniors. Ben Booker opened the frame with a double, and Drew Bias followed with an RBI single to right-center. Brooks Kimmey and Adam Hornung followed with consecutive singles to load the bases, and Dustin Dickerson delivered an RBI single to center.

That set the stage for Kenton Gedwed's pinch-hit grand slam that pulled the Bears to within four runs at 15-11. It was Gedwed's first career home run and his Big 12-leading 10th pinch hit of the season. Baylor continued the rally as Shaver Hansen followed Gedwed's blast with a single through the right side. Minnesota reliever Luke Rasmussen retired the next two batters on groundouts before Booker scored Dickerson with his second knock of the inning.

Baylor could get no closer, though, as Rasmussen induced a game-ending groundout from Bias, the last remaining member of Baylor's 2005 College World Series team.

Minnesota starter Chauncy Handran (8-3) earned the victory in a yeoman's effort. He allowed nine runs on 11 hits and two walks with seven strikeouts over 8.0 innings, running out of gas after facing four batters in the ninth and using 135 pitches.

Baylor starter Jon Ringenberg did not factor in the decision despite one of the best outings of his career. He worked a 6.2 innings and notched nine strikeouts, both career bests. Ringenberg, who left the game after Kvasnicka's game-tying homer in the seventh, allowed five runs - four earned - on nine hits and no walks. Reed Woytek (1-1) took the loss, allowing two runs on no hits and a walk with one strikeout over two-thirds of an inning.

McCallum's one-out, two-run homer in the top of the first gave Minnesota the game's first lead. Baylor tied the game in the bottom of the inning on Booker's two-out, two-run single. The Bears scored three runs on four consecutive hits in the fourth. Don Lambert delivered a two-run single, and Gregg Glime followed with an RBI double.

Booker shone in his final Baylor game, going 4-for-5 with a double, three RBI and two runs scored. Dickerson was 2-for-5 with two runs and an RBI. Hansen was 1-for-3 with two runs and two walks.

NOTES: Baylor leads the all-time series 9-4, including a 3-2 advantage in NCAA Tournament meetings. ... Baylor is 34-32 all-time in NCAA Tournament play, including a 28-21 mark at the regional level.