Things got a little tense in the first game of Baylor’s doubleheader baseball game with Memphis University School Wednesday, but it was a cakewalk in the second.
The defending state champion Red Raiders bolted to a 5-0 lead against the Owls in the first inning of the first game, but had to hang on for dear life to prevail by a 5-4 final. The second game wasn’t nearly as close as Baylor’s bats finally came to life to prevail by a 12-1 final.
Baylor improves to 24-6 with the victory and punches its ticket to next week’s Division II state tournament, which will be played at Wilson Central High School in Lebanon.
MUS ends an outstanding season at 24-14.
Senior Greyson Linderman was the winning pitcher for Baylor in the first game, but he wasn’t as sharp as normal as he allowed four hits and four runs in four and two-thirds innings. He also had nine strikeouts and six walks while hitting one.
Cooper Kinney’s run-scoring single drove in courtesy runner Ivan Reap, who was running for catcher Gehrig Ebel, who had led off the Baylor first with a single.
Danny Corona reached on an error, Christian Martin followed Kinney’s single with a walk to load the bases for Colin Ahearn, who cranked the first pitch past the fence in right center for a grand slam and a 5-0 lead for Baylor.
It turned out to be a big day for Ahearn as he was the winning pitcher in the second game by allowing two hits in four innings. He also had five more runs batted in with a bases-loaded double and a two-run homer.
MUS starter Caleb Littlejohn somehow survived that first inning and actually pitched really well, but his teammates just couldn’t get the big hit when the opportunity presented itself.
Lee Linkous got hit by a pitch with one out in the third and eventually scored the first run for MUS when Connor Price singled.
Then in the fifth, the Owls batted around and scored three times. Maurice Hampton had the only hit – a single – in that inning, but MUS got four walks.
Hampton scored the first run on a bases-loaded walk to Jack German while Will Portera walked an later scored on a passed ball. Price reached on a Baylor error and eventually scored the third run on a wild pitch.
Senior southpaw Gage Johnson was called after Linderman’s final base on balls, but he stopped that rally cold by getting a called third strike against Griff Griffin to end the inning.
Johnson allowed a two-out single to Portera in the sixth, but retired the side in order in the seventh to preserve Linderman’s win.
Ahearn’s sixth homer of the season was for sure the big blow for the winning Red Raiders.
“I felt like we had a good approach at the plate and we’re lucky to get those five early runs,” he said before grabbing a sandwich between games.
“I was just happy to help. I knew I had gotten a good piece of it when I hit it, but those runs carried us the rest of the way,” the 17-year-old junior added.
Baylor coach Greg Elie was just happy to hang on in that first game.
“We came out of the gate strong at the start and put some runs up early,” he began.
“That was a big swing by Colin. I thought that Greyson pitched a great game. He had the one bad inning and he walked more than normal, but his adrenalin was really flowing. He was one pitch from getting out of it.
“I can’t say enough about Gage Johnson. MUS is a tough team, but he came in and slammed the door. Most high school kids don’t like getting put in situations like that, but he lives for those chances and has gotten really good at saving us in tough situations,” Elie added.
Ahearn had the biggest hit as six Baylor batters had one hit apiece in that first game.
Jay Dill had a double in the fourth while Nick Kurtz and Taylor Shahan joined Ebel and Kinney with singles.
Hampton was the only MUS player with two hits.
Ebel had three hits and three RBIs in the second game while Corona had two hits and a pair of RBIs. Both also had home runs in that second game.
Hampton’s leadoff homer in the first was the only run for the Owls.
FIRST GAME SUMMARY
MEMPHIS UNIVERSITY SCHOOL 001 030 0 – 4 5 1
BAYLOR 500 000 x – 5 6 1
Littlejohn and Price; Linderman, Gage Johnson (5) and Ebel.
SECOND GAME SUMMARY
MEMPHIS UNIVERSITY SCHOOL 100 00 – 1 2 1
BAYLOR 021 72 – 12 11 0
Camp and Price; Ahearn, Patrick Johnson (5) and Larrea.
(email John Hunt at email@example.com)