By Cameron Stuart | Reporter
LOS ANGELES — After scoring three total runs in their previous three games, Baylor kept their 2019 season alive in emphatic fashion with a 24-6 victory over the Omaha Mavericks on Saturday.
The hit parade started in the first inning when senior center fielder Richard Cunningham doubled just before junior catcher Shea Langeliers hit a two-run homer to put the Bears on the board. Needless to say, Langeliers was just gearing up for take off.
The Gold Glove-winning backstop would follow up his home run in the first with a solo shot in the third and a three-run homer in the seventh. He even added a single, a double and a walk to finish the day 5-for-6. The 11 runs Langeliers drove in against Omaha set the single-game Baylor and NCAA postseason record.
Head coach Steve Rodriguez had high praise for his junior catcher.
“I had a talk with Major League Baseball teams today and I told them he’s one of the best young men off the field as well as on the field that I have ever coached,” Rodriguez said.
When asked to rate Langeliers on a scale from one to 10 in terms of the best hitters he has ever coached, Rodriguez said, “he’s about an 11.2.”
Even with Langeliers’ historic day taking the limelight, Baylor dominated offensively from the top of the order all the way down to the bottom. Seven Bears had hits and junior designated hitter Andy Thomas, like Langeliers and senior second baseman Josh Bissonette finished just a triple short of the cycle and added four RBIs. Cunningham brought three hits to the table and sophomore shortstop Nick Loftin drove in two runs of his own with three hits as the Bears scored in eight of the nine innings. Langeliers gave credit to the rest of the lineup, noting that the win was a product of the team’s effort and not just his own.
“One through nine, everyone believes in each other on this team, anybody is capable of doing what I did personally today,” Langeliers said. “That’s a team accolade.”
Arguably the most surprising offensive output of the game, however, came from Baylor senior closer Kyle Hill. The first team All-American pinch hit in the ninth inning without having ever hit in his college career. Hill drove in an RBI double to the opposite field and has now driven in more runs (one) this year than he has given up on the mound.
“I’ve had a rule in my whole coaching career that if we score 20 runs, I give a senior pitcher the opportunity to hit,” Rodriguez said. “I believe he now has the highest batting average in the country.”
Baylor was able to save their bullpen arms as well, only having two pitchers appear in the game. Junior starter Paul Dickens went 6.2 innings and allowed six earned runs on seven hits with five strikeouts. Junior righty Hayden Kettler finished the final 2.1 innings, shutting out the Mavericks the rest of the way.
The Bears will await the loser of Saturday night’s game between the host UCLA Bruins and Loyola Marymount. Sunday’s elimination game will start at 2 p.m. CT.