MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — For three straight days, Baylor's baseball team turned the state tournament into its own extended batting practice.
The Red Raiders capped an impressive run by clobbering Memphis University School 12-4 to win the TSSAA Division II-AA title Thursday afternoon at Middle Tennessee State University.
"We're hard to handle when we swing the bats like we did this week," Baylor coach Greg Elie said. "We told the guys to just keep it up, take the same approach at the plate and we would be fine."
While adding the program's third state title and first since 2006, Baylor pounded out 16 hits against MUS (26-11). Eight Red Raiders had at least one hit in the title game, and six finished with multiple hits.
In their three state tournament wins this week in Murfreesboro, the Red Raiders (24-6) scored 31 runs and totaled 41 hits. The middle of their order — Nos. 3-6 hitters Cooper Kinney, Teddy Lepcio, Stan King and Christian Martin — went a combined 18-for-33 (.545), with 20 RBIs in the last two games.facebook
Similar to Wednesday's win over McCallie, when Baylor scored four runs in the first inning, the Red Raiders jumped out to a commanding lead with five runs in the first and added five more in the third. The first six Baylor batters reached base in the home half of the first, with Lepcio, King, Martin and Danny Corona all driving in runs.
King, a junior left-hander, allowed just one earned run and struck out five batters in 4 2/3 innings while pitching for the win.
"Getting that many runs early really allowed me to just relax and throw strikes," said King, who also drove in a pair of runs. "I have a lot of faith in those eight guys behind me, so I just tried to throw strikes, and if they connected, I trusted that we would make the plays in the field to back me up.
"This team really doesn't get rattled, no matter the situation, so nerves didn't really bother us. We weren't thinking about this being the state tournament or championship game; we just went out and played and tried to take care of business."
One of only three seniors on Baylor's roster, Lepcio drilled a three-run home run with two outs in the third. It cleared the wall in left-center field — 365 feet from home plate — and ricocheted off a light pole beyond the fence.
"I was just looking for something to hit hard," said Lepcio, who finished 2-for-4 with four RBIs. "When I made contact I actually didn't think I had gotten all of it, so I was sprinting to first until I heard our crowd and looked up and saw that it had cleared the fence. That was a great feeling.
"Our whole lineup just mashed the ball today, and really all week. To put 12 runs on the board in the state championship game speaks volumes for how talented this team is. This is really special for our seniors, and there's a lot of talent coming back that I can't wait to watch next season."
Contact Stephen Hargis at email@example.com or (423) 757-6293. Follow him on Twitter @StephenHargis.