LEBANON, Tenn. – It will be another Baylor-McCallie battle here at Wilson Central High School Wednesday afternoon at 12:30 in the winner’s bracket of the Division II-AA baseball state championship.
Baylor opened play with an 8-2 victory over Christian Brothers while McCallie posted an impressive 5-1 win over Memphis University School in the second game, despite having to sit through a pair of rain delays that spanned about two and a half hours.
Christian Brothers is now 24-17 following Tuesday’s loss while MUS falls to 24-10. They play Wednesday’s first game at 10 a.m. (CST) with the loser being eliminated. The winner then advances to play the Baylor-McCallie loser on Wednesday at 5 while the Baylor-McCallie winner will wait until 12:30 Thursday to play the championship game at MTSU’s Reese Smith Jr. Field.
BAYLOR 8, CHRISTIAN BROTHERS 2: The Purple Wave scored single runs in the second and third innings for a 2-0 lead before the Red Raiders took charge with a four-run third.
Hanging onto that 4-2 lead for the next couple of frames, Baylor then put a little insurance on the board with four more runs, all coming with two outs.
Senior right-hander Alex Butler was the winning pitcher for Baylor as he went the distance and scattered five hits and allowing both runs, only one of which was earned. He also struck out seven and walked two as he stranded single Christian Brothers runners in each of the first three innings.
“I struggled a little bit at first as I wasn’t used to the mound being so high, so it took a while for me to settle in,” the 18-year-old senior said after improving to 7-2 for the season.
“We were able to figure out their guy and just kept adding to it, but it’s always nice to get that first one out of the way,” he added.
Chris Marable’s RBI-double in the second gave Christian Brothers the early lead before adding an unearned run in the third.
Then in the bottom half of that same inning, Baylor sent eight hitters to the plate and half of them scored.
Taylor Shahan led off with a single while Bradley Garland beat out an infield hit and Gehrig Ebel dropped a perfect bunt to load the bases. Cooper Kinney reached on a fielder’s choice as Shahan was gunned down at home, but Teddy Lepcio and Stan King followed with run-scoring singles to tie the score before Christian Martin’s single allowed two more to score.
Then in the fifth, Kinney singled to lead off before Lepcio popped to first. King singled to put two own before Martin grounded to third for the second out.
Danny Corona when ripped a two-run single to right before Garrett Carmichael concluded the scoring with a towering two-run homer off the light pole in left.
Caden McCarty led off the seventh for the Purple Wave with a single, but Butler coaxed pinch-hitter Gino Spiotta into a perfect 6-3 double play before striking out Reid Voss to end the game.
“We swung it today,” said Baylor coach Greg Elie after his team had improved to 22-6 in a game where every starter had at least one hit.
“Alex Butler pitched a gem, although it took him a while to get going. And then Garrett Carmichael hit his first home run of the year, so it’s an exciting time for us.
“This sort of sets the tone for what we want to do, but everybody’s goal is to win the last one. We hit it hard as we kept attacking the baseball, but this was a really nice start for us,” he added.
Garland, Ebel and Martin all had two hits apiece while Martin, Corona and Carmichael all had two RBIs.
Jarret Fowlkes was the only Christian Brothers player with two hits.
While Butler was the winning pitcher, Avery Hastings was the loser after allowing all eight runs on 13 hits. He struck out two and didn’t walk anybody.
McCALLIE 5, MUS 1: The Blue Tornado only had five hits for the game, but they proved you don’t have to get hits to score runs.
Dane Beard lived on the edge the entire game as he stranded 10 Owls in the first four inning alone, but he dodged one bullet after another as the Blue Tornado defense made some spectacular plays, especially in the outfield.
Beard allowed nine hits and six walks before being pulled with two outs in the seventh.
Holden Shell came in to get the final out as losing pitcher Connor Hobbs was gunned down at second after leading off the seventh with a single.
“I haven’t pitched in a while and I struggled a little bit here and there, but somehow was able to get out of trouble almost every time,” the 17-year-old Beard explained.
“I just had to keep my pitches low as they have a pretty good hitting team, but it’s always big to win the first one,” he smiled.
McCallie coach Tim Costo felt like Beard’s performance sort of set the tone for the entire McCallie team.
“That was huge,” he said when asked how important it was for his team to win the first game of the tournament.
“Dane went out and threw strikes. He gave us a lot of confidence with his pitching and we also had some pretty good situational hitting. These guys really love each other and we have each other’s backs. We had a little adversity with the long delay at the start, but we’ve handled adversity pretty well this season.
“I know that Baylor swept us this year in the three games we played, but I like our chances tomorrow,” Costo concluded on a positive note.
Cameron Costo reached on a one-out error in the first and went to third on a wild pitch before scoring on a throwing error by the MUS catcher. Ethan Bain then made it 2-0 with a single to left to drive in Chad Marsh, who had walked.
The Owls scored their only run in the third when Will Portera walked to lead off and later scored on an infield single by Hobbs with one out. Beard then escaped further trouble when Jess Homan grounded into a 1-2-3 double play with the bases loaded to end the inning.
Daalen Adderley had an infield hit to lead off the McCallie third. We went to second on a balk and then to third on a wild pitch before scoring on a grounder to second by Costo.
Then in the fifth with the Blue Tornado holding onto that slim 3-1 lead, the winners added two more runs without a hit.
Marsh reached on an error to lead off before Max Reimer got hit with a pitch. Both advanced on a wild pitch before Marsh scored on a sacrifice fly to left. Courtesy runner Caleb Jones then scored the second run on another wild pitch.
Hayden Stark singled to lead off the MUS seventh before Beard got the next two on long flies to left and right. Hobbs then walked before the McCallie starter was replaced by Shell, who quickly fired two strikes before Hobbs was gunned down by Riemer trying to steal second.
Marsh was the only McCallie player with two hits while Hobbs was the only Owl with two.
CHRISTIAN BROTHERS 011 000 0 – 2 5 0
BAYLOR 004 040 x – 8 13 1
Hastings and Marable; Butler and Carmichael.
MUS 001 000 0 – 1 9 4
McCALLIE 201 020 x – 5 5 2
Hobbs, Littlejohn (6) and Price; Beard, Shell (7) and Riemer.
(email John Hunt at email@example.com)