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This Date in Baylor History: June 21, 2005

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A look back at one of the great moments in Baylor baseball history

BaylorBears.com

Baylor baseball was in the midst of one of the greatest seasons in program history in 2005, earning a share of the Big 12 regular season title and winning a super regional at home against Clemson to advance to the College World Series for the first time since 1978. The Bears had eyes on a national championship as they arrived in Omaha, but lost their CWS opener to Texas 5-1. BU would need to work its way out of the loser's bracket in a loaded field. Baylor would stave off elimination by knocking off #2 Oregon State 4-3 in extra innings, an Oregon State team led by current New York Yankee Jacoby Ellsbury. This set up another elimination game that would match the Bears against the Tulane Green Wave, the #1 team in the country.

Baylor took the field as the home team on a warm night at Rosenblatt Stadium behind junior lefthander Cory VanAllen. After a scoreless first inning, Tulane went on the attack in the top of the 2nd. A Greg Dini RBI single put the Green Wave on the board first, followed by a Mark Hamilton 2 run homer to right to make it 3-0 Tulane. The inning continued to unravel for Baylor as the aided Tulane with two errors and a walk. By the time the Bears were back in the dugout, they were facing a 6-0 deficit. VanAllen would settle in and pitch into the 5th but the Baylor bats were unable to muster anything against Tulane's J.R. Crowel through the first 6 innings. The Bears trailed 7-0 with 3 innings left to play.

BU finally began to chip away at the lead in the bottom of the 7th. Paul Witt got the Bears off the schneid, scoring on a wild pitch. Michael Griffin and Kyle Reynolds followed with run-producing hits to make it a 7-3 ballgame, knocking Crowel out of the game in the process. Although Baylor wasn't able to get any closer in the 7th, reliever Abe Woody, who entered in the 5th to replace VanAllen, continued to mow down Tulane hitters to keep the Bears within striking distance. In the bottom of the 8th, a 2 out double steal set up Griffin who shot one through the left side of the infield to score Witt and Seth Fortenberry. Heading to the 9th inning, Baylor had drawn to within 7-5. Woody set the Green Wave down in order to complete 4.1 innings of 2 hit, shutout relief to set the stage for the bottom of the 9th.

After Josh Ford and Reid Brees led off with consecutive singles to put the tying runners on base, Zach Dillon squared away for a sacrifice bunt but pulled the bat back and slapped a double up the first base line. Pinch runner Jeff Mandel scored and all of a sudden, the Bears had the tying run at 3rd base and the winning run at 2nd with nobody out. Tulane decided to intentionally walk Kevin Russo after a pitching change to put a force at every base. Fortenberry had the first opportunity to be the hero but popped up to shortstop for the first out of the inning. Paul Witt stepped up to the plate where a hit could win a walkoff win but a ground ball could mean a season ending double play.

On the first pitch of the at bat from reliever Brandon Gomes, Witt hit a chopper back up the middle that initially looked like trouble for the Bears. But Tulane second baseman Joe Holland had to wait back on the ball to avoid taking a short hop. Holland fielded the hop cleanly and touched the second base bag for the second out of the inning. But with Russo bearing down on him, Holland made an errant throw to first as he tried to complete the double play and the ball skipped away from first baseman Micah Owings. Chase Gerdes scored on the forceout and Zach Dillon came screaming around third to beat Owings' throw home to give the Bears the improbable 8-7 win.

The comeback tied for the largest margin overcome in the College World Series since 1960. And the Bears did it against a Tulane team that came in with an incredible 56-11 record and a roster that included five players that would eventually see time in the Major Leagues. Baylor's season would come to an end the following night against their old nemesis from Austin, but they wouldn't have gotten to that point without what is arguably the greatest win in program history.