When Baylor combines solid hitting at the top of the lineup and shutdown pitching by Nick Kurtz and Greyson Linderman the powerful Red Raiders get a 3-0 victory over Christian Brothers to reach the Division II-AA state baseball championship game.
The Red Raiders (27-6) followed up a 10-0 thumping of Ensworth on Tuesday with their second straight shutout and roared into Thursday’s title game at 12:30 p.m. at Reese Smith Jr. Field on the Middle Tennessee State University campus.
Christian Brothers (26-11) beat Ensworth, 5-3, later Wednesday to set up a rematch with the Red Raiders. If CBHS gets past Baylor in the first game, it would set up the “if necessary” game at a time to be determined by TSSAA.
Christian Brothers (26-11) was playing Ensworth later on Wednesday to see which team would test Baylor next.
“The only team we can compare this year’s team is last year’s team,” Baylor coach Greg Elie said. “We only have three seniors this year so we’re excited about the future. But we have one more day to be patient about that.”
Well, the fact is last year’s Red Raiders beat Memphis University School, 10-4, for the state championship.
The Wednesday win was Baylor’s third straight sixth in the last seven games.
Kurtz started the game and worked four innings and yielded five hits and, obviously, no runs. He struck out four and walked one.
Linderman came on in relief in the fifth and finished up with a hitless performance over the final three innings. He fanned four and walked none.
“We’re in a good place with our pitching,” said Elie, who is the co-head coach with Mike Kinney for the second year – the two coaches have been at Baylor for four years. “Kurtz pitched great and Linderman, who has been the staple over the last three years slammed the door and you can’t ask for any more than that.”
Elie wasn’t complaining about the top five hitters in the lineup either.
Gehrig Ebel, Daniel Corona, Cooper Kinney, Christian Martin and Kurt were a combined 11 for 17 with three RBIs and three runs scored. Martin went 3 for 3 and Corona was 3 for 4. Kurtz drove in two of the team’s three runs, helping his own cause.
Those five players out-offensed the entire Christian Brothers lineup.
“We sprayed 12 hits around and got 11 from the top five guys,” Elie said. “That’s pretty stellar. They had a really good day.”
Stan King had the other Baylor hit.
Kurtz didn’t need his bat to produce the Red Raiders’ first run: he walked with the bases loaded.
In the two-run third inning, Martin’s single scored Corona and Kinney sent home with the final run with a fielder’s choice.
“We’re in good shape pitching-wise going into tomorrow’s championship game,” Elie said. “We have used three pitchers and we have a lot of confidence in the guys we still have available.”
Christian Brothers 000 000 0 – 0 7 2
Baylor 102 000 x – 3 12 0
Durham and Marable; Kurtz, Linderman and Ebel.
(Contact Larry Fleming at email@example.com and on Twitter @larryfleming44)