MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – The Baylor School baseball team has been on a tear these past couple of weeks as they’ve been averaging double figures in runs scored and base hits.
It's become quite a winning combination.
That trend continued here at MTSU’s Reese Smith Jr. Field on Thursday afternoon in Baylor’s biggest and most important game of the season.
Facing the Memphis University School Owls for the Division II, Class AA state title, Baylor attacked early and often and walked away with an impressive 12-4 victory, securing their third state title in baseball and first since 2006.
And has been the case, the Red Raiders erupted early and often at the plate, scoring five runs in the bottom of the first before adding a single run in the second and five more in the third.
It looked like the mercy rule might be used, but the Owls kept scrapping and scratching and forced the game to go the full seven innings.
“These guys have worked so hard since the first day of the season and we just tried to stay focused on what we’ve doing all year,” head coach Greg Elie said after his team finished its season at 24-6.
“I’m so happy with the way these guys have been playing. This is just a continuation of what we’ve been doing as we’ve had a relentless offense and really good pitching. And once again, they all stepped up.
“We just wanted to come out and play our game, not getting too high or too low. But it all turned out just the way we had hoped and we’re all happy,” he added.
Teddy Lepcio is one of three Baylor players playing their final game as a Red Raider. He made it a memorable finish with two hits, two runs scored and four runs batted in, including a towering three-run homer high off the wall in left in the third.
‘It’s just a surreal feeling right now,” Lepcio replied when asked about his final game.
“I had to keep pinching myself in the seventh inning, trying to get a handle on the fact that this was the last game. To be here and to finish like we did is really unbelievable.
“I just tried to keep hitting the ball hard and I found the barrel a couple of times. I wasn’t really sure the home run ball was hit far enough, but when I saw it sail over the wall, I was elated,” he added.
Southpaw Stan King was the winning pitcher for Baylor as he allowed four runs on six hits before being replaced by Jay Dill with two outs in the fifth. He too had a big day at the plate with a two-run double in the first. He also scored twice.
“We wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for those guys behind me. We knew we had a good chance to win today, but we just had to stay calm and to keep going what we’ve done all season. It feels really good right now,” the 17-year-old junior expressed before more team photos were taken.
The Red Raiders sent 11 hitters to the plate in the first inning when they jumped out to the 5-0 lead.
Bradley Garland and Gehrig Ebel both singled to lead off before Cooper Kinney walked to load the bases.
Lepcio’s first hit drove in the first run before King’s double to left-center made it 3-0. Christian Martin’s single drove in Lepcio before a double-play grounder from Danny Corona allowed King to score.
Kinney led off the second with a walk and later scored on a single by Corona for a 6-0 advantage after two innings.
Then in the third, Baylor batted around again and scored five more with Kinney’s two-run single and Lepcio’s three-run homer doing all the damage.
Jesse Homan’s RBI-single in the fourth allowed MUS to get on the board and Baylor was within three outs of winning in five before the Owls scored three in the fifth.
Hayden Starks drove in the first run with a groundout while Connor Price and Homan both followed with run-scoring singles.
Jay Dill came on in relief of King and put the game away with 2.1 innings of scoreless work.
He allowed a leadoff infield single to Price to start the MUS seventh and he allowed a two-out single to Jeffrey Ince, but the game ended when Maurice Hampton grounded to short to end the game.
Southpaw John Ross Swaim was the loser for the Owls after allowing 11 runs on 15 hits in four innings.
Garland and Martin both had three hits for Baylor as the Red Raiders finished the day with 16 hits.
Ebel, Lepcio and Corona all had two each.
Alex Butler and Garrett Carmichael were the other two seniors playing their final game for Baylor.
Price and Homan both had two hits for MUS as the Owls finished the day with six.
The Owls finish their season at 25-11.
MUS 000 130 0 – 4 9 0
BAYLOR 515 010 x – 12 16 2
Swaim, Wood (5), Stewart (6) and Price; King, Dill (5) and Carmichael.
(email John Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org)